Dato’ W.S.W Davidson

Dato’ W.S.W. Davidson DSDK, began his career in London in 1957 before serving as Crown Counsel and legal draughtsman in the Attorney General’s Chambers, Hong Kong from 1960 to 1963. He came to Malaysia and began practice in 1964. He was the senior partner of the Ipoh office of Lewis & Co prior to the firm’s merger with Azman & Co in 1981. From 1986 to 2000, he was a member of the Brunei Bar and a partner in the firm of Abrahams, Davidson & Co in Brunei. During that period he has appeared in several major cases in the Brunei High Court, Court of Appeal and twice before the Privy Council.

Career Highlights

In a varied career, I have received most professional satisfaction from cases which I have fought through the courts often to the apex Federal Court and three appearances before the Privy Council in London, two from Brunei and one from Malaysia.  Not all were ‘big’ cases involving huge sums. I have also gained satisfaction through settlements of disputed claims out of court (e.g. the Highland Towers case referred to above).

I have not succeeded in all my cases, but satisfaction comes from a job well done, even though I might have been on the losing side.

Over a period of well over 50 years I have appeared in the higher courts of Hong Kong, Malaysia and Brunei on many diverse subjects.  In no particular order a few of the issues of law are mentioned below:-

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  1. The different purposes of the derivative action on minority oppression petitioner in company law. Rinota Construction Sdn Bhd v Mascon Rinota Sdn Bhd & Ors [2018] 1 MLJ 141 (Federal Court); and Kejutaan Holdings Sdn Bhd v Magnum 4D (Perak) Sdn Bhd  & Ors [2010] 3 MLJ 827 (Court of Appeal).


  1. The application of the anti-avoidance provisions of s. 140 of the Income Tax Act and the differences between the avoidance act and tax mitigation. Sabah Berjaya Sdn Bhd v Ketua Pengarah Jabatan Hasil Dalam Negeri [1999] 3 MLJ 145 (Court of Appeal); and Syarikat Ibraco-Peremba Sdn Bhd v Ketua Pengarah Hasil Dalam Negeri  [2017] 2 MLJ 120 (Court of Appeal).


  1. The origin and application of the principle that the court will not lend its aid to a man who founds his case of action upon an immoral or illegal act. Norman Disney & Young v Afifi Hj Hassan [2011] 1 CLJ 210 (High Court); and Foo Jong Wee & Ors v Hj Afifi Hj Hassan [2016] 6 CLJ 696 (Court of Appeal).


  1. Performance guarantees in construction law. Whether they are payable without proof of default merely on demand. Ho Hup Construction Co Bhd v Government of Madagascar and another  [2011] 3 MLJ 694 (Court of Appeal).


  1. Whether the rights of a named beneficiary under a will who has survived the deceased but died subsequently before distribution lapses or remains effective.Also the application of the principle of res judicata. Tan Sri Dr M Mahadevan v Dr Jeyalakshmi Ratnavale & Others [2017] 6 CLJ 49 (Court of Appeal).


  1. The circumstances in whether a Malaysian Insurer was liable to satisfy a judgment obtained by a passenger victim of a Malaysian registered vehicle in Singapore even though the motor insurance policy issued by the insurer did not cover passenger liability. Iskandar bin Mohd Nuli v AmGeneral Insurance Bhd [2017] 5 MLJ 25.  (Federal Court); and AmGeneral Insurance Bhd v Iskandar bin Mohd Nuli [2016] 1 MLJ 818. (Court of Appeal)


  1. whether a lease or sublease (exceeding 3 years) is rendered void by reason of want of registration under the provisions of the National Land Code or does the lease or sublease become:-(i) a tenancy at will and if so for what period;
    (ii) an equitable sublease and if so, for what period.
    S&M Jewellery Trading Sdn Bhd & Ors v Fui Lian-Kwong Hing Sdn Bhd [2015] 5 MLJ 717 (Federal Court);


  1. the application of equitable principles under the FMS Land Code or its successor the National Land Code. Devi v Francis [1969] 2 MLJ 169 (Civil Appeal);


  1. the principles which govern winding up petition under s. 218 (i)(f) of the Companies Act. Fairview Schools Bhd v Indrani a/p Rajaratnam & Ors (No 1) [1998] 1 MLJ 110 (Court of Appeal);


  1. the rules applying floating charges and fixed charges under the National Land Code. Re Sama Corporation Sdn Bhd; CI Holdings Bhd v Jabatan Pemegang Harta [1992] 2 MLJ 251;


  1. the principles applying to an application for stay of proceedings under the Arbitration Act (1950). Perbadanan Kemajuan Negeri Perak v Asean Security Paper Mill Sdn Bhd [1991] 3 MLJ 309 (Supreme Court);


  1. the priority to  be given to Registrar’s caveats under the National Land Code. Development & Commercial Bank Bhd v Land Administrator, Wilayah Persekutuan & Anor [1991] 2 MLJ 180 (Supreme Court);


  1. the construction of powers of attorney and the duty of care of Banks and Finance Companies relying on them. Magnum Finance Bhd v Ling Sing Ping [1988] 2 MLJ 403  (High Court Kuala Lumpur);


  1. the construction of a conveyance and the applicable law for its construction in Penang prior to their National Land Code. Re application by Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin bin Tengku Ibrahim [1984] 2 MLJ 231. Penang High Court);


  1. The basis of distribution of the assets of the Malaysian Mining Staff Provident Fund on its dissolution. Lim Yee Cheong v Haji Mokty Bin Datuk Mahmood & Ors [1984] 2 MLJ 308 (Federal Court);


  1. The applicability of the Code on Take-Overs and Mergers, 1981. Petaling Tin Bhd v Lee Kiain Chan & Ors [1994] 1 MLJ 657 (Supreme Court);


With more than 50 years at the Malaysian Bar, Dato’ Davidson’s vast experience includes the following highlights:

  • Legal adviser for drafting and negotiation of production-sharing agreements, joint operating agreements, farm-outs, etc. in oil and gas matters. The production-sharing agreements had important implications for Malaysia as an oil-producing country.
  • Drafted Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) and related documents for numerous projects including cement plants. Also acted in construction litigation and arbitrations as counsel and arbitrator.
  • Was appointed to the Panel of Eminent Persons in 2005. The Panel was established by the Malaysian Bar Council, the International Bar Association, LawAsia and Transparency International to investigate and report on the 1988 judicial crisis.
  • Sat as arbitrator in international and domestic arbitrations.
  • Commercial litigation includes over 40 years of appearing in High Courts in Hong Kong, Malaysia and Brunei on various cases and on occasions before the Privy Council in London.
  • Advised on taxation matters.
  • Advised on joint ventures.
  • Advised and acted for insurers on insurance claims involving contractor’s all risk, professional indemnity, industrial all risk.

Contact Details

  • +603 2164 0200
    ext no. 128
  • bill.davidson@azmandavidson.com.my

Areas of Practice

  • Arbitration
  • Energy
  • Taxation


  • LLB (Hons) (Belfast) (1956)
  • Barrister at Law, Gray’s Inn (1957)
  • Advocate & Solicitor, High Court of Malaya (1964)
  • Advocate & Solicitor, Supreme Court of Brunei (1989)


  • Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators
  • Fellow of the Malaysian Institute of Arbitrators
  • Panel Member, Kuala Lumpur Regional Centre for Arbitration (KLRCA)
  • Panel Member, Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC)