Interview with: Wong Mun Hoe, Founder and principal partner

Munhoe & Mar | View firm profile

Founder and principal partner Wong Mun Hoe discusses current and future trends in litigation, the area of commercial law and legal services.

What do you see as the main points that differentiate Munhoe & Mar from your competitors?

As a boutique legal firm focusing on dispute resolution, Munhoe & Mar provides customised dispute resolution solutions to its clients. This itself has distinguished Munhoe & Mar from others. More often than not, when it comes to appointment of legal representative for dispute resolution, clients will choose an individual lawyer based on his/her relevant experience, advocacy or persuasiveness and work ethic, and not solely based on which legal firm the individual lawyer/counsel is currently attached to.. This enable us to tailor-make practical solution to each client by knowing all the little details that matters to them.

Based on the requirements of different matters, different departments in Munhoe & Mar will work together as a team in one matter. The working team will consist of lawyers of relevant expertise required in the matter, be it dispute resolution or real estate, in order to ensure personalisation of our legal service to clients.

The result-driven mentality and flexibility that Munhoe & Mar provides to clients has positioned us as a legal firm that provides creative and viable solutions to our clients.

Which practises do you see growing in the next 12 months? What are the drivers behind that?

Though corporate & commercial dispute resolution is not a new area of law and it has been very settled for the last 5 decades in Malaysia, this area of law is not just here to stay. It will continue to grow rapidly simply because of the implementation of the new Companies Act 2016 in Malaysia (which came into forced in January 2017) that has substantially changed the legal landscape of company law in Malaysia. During this transitional period, the ambiguities with respect to the statutory interpretation and application of the new Companies Act 2016 will increasingly be litigated in the Malaysian Courts.

There is another factor that could contribute to the growth in the area of law. A company is usually used as a vehicle to hold business for startup. During the initial stage, a lot of startups in Malaysia do not have proper documentation to set out the rights and liabilities of the shareholders and investors. The startup scene has been tremendous for the last 2 decades globally and for Malaysia, it has been growing for the last 5 to 10 years. It has come to a stage whereby most of the startups have begun to face issues due to the lack of documentation during the initial stage with their investors or shareholders and disputes may arise therefrom.

Other areas of law that will grow due to the enactment of new laws in Malaysia include bankruptcy law and competition law.

Is technology changing the way you interact with your clients, and the services you can provide them?

Besides the conventional way of sending emails to clients, I understand there are lawyers who use communication application such as WhatsApp etc to communicate with clients. That seems to be the most convenient and fastest way to convey a message to client.

Munhoe & Mar is about to change that. We are developing an e-platform. The main feature of the e-platform is e-court minutes/status, where the lawyer who attends the case in court or attend a meeting will key in the court minutes or meeting minutes on the e-platform. The status of the cases or files will also be updated on this platform. Client will be given a login name and password beforehand and will be able to access to the minutes/status of the case/file from any part of the world almost instantaneously upon the same being keyed in. More features will be introduced by stages.

This e-platform will not just reduce clients’ waiting time for the update of information and the clients will be able to see what transpired previously for the case/file at one glance without the need to do their own recording or to request the same from their solicitors.

We hope besides convenience, we also could provide effective communication and accountabilities to our clients.

What’s the main change you’ve made in the firm that will benefit clients?

Besides providing the e-platform in the near future that promotes effective communication, convenience and accountabilities to our clients, we have tried to establish a client to client network and a network between clients with our professional contacts.

Sometimes, what clients need is not a just a legal solution but a practical solution. We believe by establishing the network between the clients, the clients will be able to assist each other in achieving their goals.

Can you give us a practical example of how you have helped a client to add value to their business?

One of the examples that I always give is that in a case where initially it was a pure drafting of a shareholders’ agreement, the counterpart who chose to use a template agreement has initially refused to have a shareholder’s exit clause with exit mechanism. The dispute resolution lawyer who was involved in the working team has provided practical views on pitfalls of the shareholders’ agreement without such clauses. After explaining how exit clauses can avoid litigation or reduce the length of litigation if it does go to litigation, both parties agreed to have the clause. These pre-emptive measures which derived from real-life experience have given clients so much commercial advantage as both parties could focus on the solution instead of litigating it if dispute does arise in the future without affecting the business relationship.

Are clients looking for stability and strategic direction from their law firms? – where do you see the firm in three years time?

Yes. Munhoe & Mar has been advocating that whoever in business must be ‘legally disruptive’ (the acumen to always have legal apprehension to achieve competitive edge). The direction of Munhoe & Mar is to continue to ensure the public, whether an individual or business owners or even companies’ directors to always have the legal apprehension.

Startups and SMEs clients who have worked with us comprehend the importance to be ‘legal disruptive’. These clients know in order to progress to the next level, the being ‘legally disruptive’ is as important as their companies’ missions and must cascade down to each level of the hierarchy. With our assistance, we are confident that our clients are able to instill such attitude.

For our clients which are the MNCs, GLCs and PLC as they appreciate the value we can generate for them, our presence will continue to safeguard such ready attitude.

Munhoe & Mar has expanded since our establishment and we hope that we can continue to expand. For the next 3 years, we are looking to enlarge and form other department(s) to ensure all our clients’ demand are met.