GK Ganesan Kasinathan, or ‘GK’ as he is known at the Bar, is something of a maverick. His antecedents are fascinating as they are impressive.
He has been an advocate and solicitor of the Malaysian Bar for over a quarter of a century.
Hailing from a Tamil school in Seremban, Negeri Sembilan, he spent his formative years at Sekolah Dato’ Sheik Ahmad. In 1976, after an open competition, he was accepted into the famed Royal Military College. At the end of his high school education, in 1979, he began his tertiary education at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, and completed a degree in Nuclear Science. He was commissioned a second lieutenant in 1983; and upon his graduation, was promoted to the rank of captain.
His love for the law drove him to read law even while he was serving the Armed Forces. In 1988 he was accepted into the University of Nottingham, UK, where he obtained his LL. B(Hons).
At Nottingham University he received the Raja Azlan Shah Prize for his ‘Outstanding Contribution to the life, work and well-being of the Department and to its capacity to operate successfully as a multi-cultural community.’
On his return to Malaysia in 1992 he successfully completed the Certificate in Legal Practice. The now retired Federal Court judge, Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram then accepted him as a pupil. GK was called to the Bar in 1993 and served with Messrs Sri Ram & Co; before opening his own firm, Messrs. GK Ganesan. He completed the LL. M (Master of Laws) at Universiti Malaya in 2001, specialising in commercial law.
His rise at the Bar has been meteoric. Within a short number of years, in 2000, he wrote a book entitled ‘Bankruptcy law in Malaysia and Singapore: a Sourcebook.’ It continues to receive the approbation of judges from all courts: See the Federal Court in Akira Sales & Services (M) Sdn Bhd v Nadiah Zee bt Abdullah  2 MLJ 537, the Court of Appeal in Affin Bank v Abu Bakar bin Ismail  2 MLJ 88, Lee Chao Yong v Siteman Construction Sdn Bhd  MLJU 526, Re Richard Dilaan Morais v. ex parte Ampang Centre Management Sdn Bhd  MLJU 991; High Courts in: Ng Soon Tee ; Ex-Parte: CIMB Bank Berhad  MLJU 631; Re Naspu bin Daud; ex p Affin Bank Bhd  5 MLJ 767, Re Siow Ah Moi @ Seow Yin Fong; ex p United Orient Leasing Co Bhd  3 MLJ 713.
One judge, Vincent Ng J called his work ‘an opus’: see Tan Ah Tong v Dato Seri Dr Kuljit Singh  6 CLJ 484. He is considered a leading authority on insolvency law.
He is credited with creating history in two major bankruptcy cases at the Federal Court : Ho Ken Seng v Progressive Insurance Sdn Bhd –  2 MLJ 335; and Dato Lim Huah Leong 03-4-09/2016(W). In other areas he has made history as well. In September 2015– he argued at the Court of Appeal that damages must be paid in vitro fertilisation (IVF) for victims injured in accidents. That point had never been allowed before. On 02 September 2015, the Court of Appeal accepted his arguments and awarded the victim RM70,000.00 (see Star Online).
GK regularly argues complex commercial and civil cases.
He has argued capital offence criminal cases before the Federal Court and the Court of Appeal: (See the Federal Court case of Mehmet Ucaner Oktay v PP ; Court of Appeal in Md Nurhidayat bin Md Ali v Public Prosecutor –  5 MLJ 182, Mohammad bin Abdullah v Public Prosecutor  4 MLJ 549; PP v. Pisco [SAHC 45-90-2007], PP v. Cenepo [SAHC 45-90-2007][Drug Trafficking]; PP v. Murugesan Muniandy  1 LNS 867 [Murder]; PP v. Rajendran (MT2-45-2-2006) [Murder]).
In the year 2007 he represented the accused in various sedition and public offence trials in the HINDRAF cases.
Numerous cases in which he has appeared as counsel at the appellate courts are published in the law jounals.
A retired High Court judge, Dato RK Nathan, has described him as ‘one of the most courteous and devastating cross examiners he has seen’.
After the 13th General Elections he drafted, appeared with a group of lawyers to argue numerous election cases in the Perak Election Courts and at the Federal Court.
He specialises in international commercial arbitration and regularly appears as an appellate advocate at the Federal Court and the Court of Appeal.
A good example of his active practice in corporate law was when he helped facilitate the corporate restructuring of one of the largest public listed companies in 1997-2000.
In 2010, he completed a Diploma in Commercial International Arbitration in a course organised by the UK Chartered Institutive of Arbitrators. It was conducted at Keble College, Oxford in 2010. He was made a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators in 2011.
He is a sought-after arbitration counsel and has had numerous forays arguing international ICC arbitration cases at Munich, Singapore and Switzerland. He has also been appointed as an international arbitrator. Currently he is active as an arbitrator in a large building construction dispute. He has just completed an arbitration involving the Federal Government and a main contractor. The award which was more than 200 pages was successfully defended through various stages of court litigation.
He tutors lawyers on legal professional training on numerous occasions. In 2002 he attended a training organised by the English Bar at Keble College, Oxford. He was only one of the two specially invited counsel from Malaysia for this rigorous and highly sought-after training. The course, entitled ‘Advanced International Advocacy Course’ was conducted by sitting judges of the English courts.
He is also a trainer of trainers in the Hempel method of advocacy .
GK regularly gives talks on various areas of the law at local universities, Bar Council and state bar committees in both Peninsular and East Malaysia. Currently he is engaged in amending his Bankruptcy Law book to accommodate the latest revisions to the Insolvency Act 1976.
He regularly lectures of the local universities and teaches civil and criminal procedure at the Judges College (Institut Latihan Kehakiman).
He is currently the chairman of the Professional Indemnity Insurance Committee of the Bar Council and advises the Bar on matters relating to professional indemnity, and risk management. He is one of the senior members of the Legal Profession Committee of the Bar Council. He sits as a member of the Legal Profession ‘Amendment’ Committee, Subcommittee on Arbitration and Building Construction Arbitration.
He also sits as Chairman of Disciplinary Committee which conducts investigations over solicitors.
He is an avid reader and writer, and has contributed numerous articles at the Bar (e.g. in 2005, ‘If you are prepared to learn, I am prepared to teach’). In 2005, he wrote a deeply researched article that urged the government to drop the death sentence (Death Penalty: Time to inter state-sponsored killings’: KLBar, Relevan, 2015). In the year 2007 he began a campaign to change the Legal Profession Act 1976. He called for an EGM asking to amend it. More than 3,800 lawyers turned up (a rare occurrence in those days) and endorsed his proposals. Working in an Ad hoc Committee chaired by the retired Court of Appeal judge Tan Sri VC George, he helped draft the current amendments to the Act. He contributed to various chapters of Lexis-Nexis’ Malaysian Court Practice.
He writes regularly. His mission is to arm the man on the street with a working knowledge of the law. In the recent weeks, he wrote numerous articles: ‘Time to reform the relation judiciary,’ ‘Reconsider status, role and appointment and function of the Attorney General,’ ‘Is any ex-Prime Minister immune from criminal prosecution?’ and ‘Does the AG need to be a Malay or a Muslim? Does the AG have to advise on Syariah law?’.
His recent articles elicit a thorough understanding of the inner workings of the Federal Constitution.
Equipped with ‘speech dictate’ technology, he is able to translate his thoughts into words quickly, and efficiently, just with a help of a Bluetooth headset and a good flow of thoughts.
GK enjoys classical music and Broery Marantika.