Richard Wee joined Kuala Lumpur-based MahWengKwai & Associates in 2016, where he established and now heads the firms Sports Law Practice Group. Recognized locally and regionally for pioneering this niche, in this Q&A with Asia Law Portal he describes what makes Sports Law unique, what motivated him to become a lawyer, and how his practice serves as a a resource for clients:
Describe your legal practice for us and what drew you to the practice of law?
I am currently leading the Sports Law Practice Group, the Real Estate Practice Group as well as a fellow Partner for Dispute Resolution at MahWengKwai & Associates (MWKA). My past experience and practice in the last 18 years of practice has been predominantly based on litigation. Over the last few years, my career has also evolved to include legal services for corporate matters.
As to what drew me to the practice of law, I have always been intrigued to it. If I were to identify one defining factor, it would be the influence of my parents. My Dad was a police officer and my Mum, who although was a homemaker, constantly advised me to do the right thing and be fair in everything I did. Growing up, I always admired them for their strong sense of justice.
You’re a recognized expert in Sports Law. What makes sports law unique?
Thank you for acknowledging our expertise. Yes, we at MWKA are very familiar with Sports Law.
Effectively, sports law has its own jurisprudence and rule of law. An example of this is the standard of proof in dispute resolutions at Sports Tribunals. As is to common knowledge, the standard of proof in criminal matters is beyond reasonable doubt. As for civil matters, the standard of proof is on the balance of probabilities. However, in sports disputes, the standard of proof is that the Arbitrator or the members of the tribunal must be comfortably satisfied of the allegations therein to decide one way or the other. This is a unique standard of proof. When it comes to “comfortable satisfaction” in Sports Law, it really is just a matter of the arbiter or members of the tribunal being comfortably satisfied to make a particular decision. This standard of proof is rather subjective.
You recently joined MahWengKwai & Associates as a partner after a highly successful legal career. What’s in store for you and your colleagues at Mah Weng Kwai going forward?
MWKA is a well established law firm. Formed in 1985, it is a grand old law firm within the legal community.
In recent years, under the leadership of Raymond Mah, the firm has reinvented itself. That attracted me to join MWKA and with me were my team members from Messrs Richard Wee & Yip.
As a fellow partner in Dispute Resolution, we take on matters such as corporate disputes, employment matters, contractual cases, and matters involving negligence. Despite being fairly general in litigation, we do cater to a few unique clients such as logistics and warehouse, retail, and sports disputes. Recently, Legal500 acknowledged the MWKA Dispute Resolution Team and upgraded us to a Tier-3.
Since taking over the Real Estate Practice Group, the work process was tweaked and adjusted to cater for a larger pool of clients. I am proud to share that Legal500 also upgraded our status to a Tier-2 firm for Real Estate and Construction services in Malaysia. This is a reflection of the dynamism of the Real Estate Practice Group.
As for Sports Law, other than servicing our clients, the Sports Law Practice Group strives to develop this area law. We continue to broaden the horizons of the law and hope that one day, Malaysia will be a Sports Law Hub of the region.
Malaysia is a prime focus for foreign investors. Among them, real estate developers and sporting event sponsors and organizers. How can you help them navigate the local legal and business market?
This is an interesting question. With our intricate knowledge in property law and real estate, foreign investors coming to Malaysia and engaging us will be able to tap into our internal and local knowledge. We will be able to process documents, and submit the necessary applications, and deal with the relevant authorities with regards to real estate. In fact, with our knowledge and experience in Sports Law as well, we are able to also help those wanting to invest in sports events. For example if someone wants to organise a world cup in Malaysia or a tournament, we definitely have the know-hows to be able to support and advice.
What should general counsel and corresponding law firms around the world be thinking about when they are considering referring work to you in Malaysia?
We are always pleased and honoured if anyone wants to engage us, especially lawyers and general counsels from outside of Malaysia. We offer ease of accessibility and try to always be there whenever our client needs us. We strive to always improve our services and always search for ways to innovate and aspire ahead. With our in-house trainings and our lawyers attending relevant and strategic courses and seminars to enhance their skills, we want our clients to feel that they are in good hands.
We can also tap into the knowledge and experience of people like Raymond and our consultant, Dato’ Mah Weng Kwai; each with their own areas of expertise, experiences and accolades. Their input enhances the quality of our advice.
We are also an old traditional firm that has been around since 1985. Our goodwill is firmly attached to the brand of the firm. We want our potential clients to know that if they come to MahWengKwai & Associates, they will receive services based on tradition, innovation, values, and be able to tap into our aspirations to maintain practice in an ethical way.
What do you enjoy doing when not practicing law?
I am a huge sports fan and whenever possible, I try to take part in sports and also watch sports at stadiums or on the television. Among my favourite sports are football and badminton. As a football fan, other than supporting the Malaysian National Team, I also support Everton Football Club in England.
For more information about Richard Wee and the MahWengKwai Sports Law Practice, please see the firm’s website: http://www.mahwengkwai.com/