World News

Court dismisses Malaysia Airlines' bid to strike out MH370 suit

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - A Malaysian court on Wednesday dismissed a bid by national flag carrier Malaysia Airlines Berhad (MAB) to throw out a suit filed by relatives of three passengers who went missing on flight MH370, opening the way for other relatives to sue the airline.

Family members of passengers onboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 which went missing in 2014, walk past the logo of Malaysia Airlines as they leave its Beijing office after their gathering on the second anniversary of the disappearance of MH370, in Beijing, China, March 8, 2016. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-hoon

MH370 disappeared on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, 2014, with 239 passengers and crew on board.

More than 50 suits have been filed in the Malaysian courts over the plane’s disappearance, while others have been filed in the United States, Australia, and China.

The Kuala Lumpur High Court ruling is likely to come as a relief for relatives, many of whom had feared they would not be able to get compensation from Malaysia Airlines Systems (MAS) after it transferred all its assets and operations to MAB in a restructuring exercise last year.

MAB had argued that it had no liability as it was set up eight months after the aircraft disappeared.

But the court did not accept that, instead ruling that MAB’s liability would be determined in a trial, government lawyer Alice Loke Yee Ching told reporters.

“It was not plain and obvious that MAB is not a proper party (to the suit). That should only be determined by the full trial,” she said.

The suit ruled on on Wednesday was filed by two teenagers whose parents and older brother were on the plane on the ill-fated flight.

It will be the first case against the airline to be heard in Malaysia, more than two years after the plane went missing.

The court, however, dismissed the teenagers’ bid to also hold the Malaysian government and two of its entities liable for the plane’s disappearance.

The family’s lawyer, Sangeet Kaur Deo, told reporters the court had ruled that while the government had a duty of care to the plaintiffs, “there was no breach of that duty”.

She said the family would appeal the court’s decision.

Reporting by Rozanna Latiff; Editing by Robert Birsel