Progress on liberalisation of Malaysian legal services market
03 Oct, 2013
Following the latest talks between the Law Society and the Malaysian Bar Council and the Attorney General’s chambers in Malaysia, Malaysian Bar Council President Chris Leong has this week confirmed that progress has been made on liberalisation of legal services in Malaysia.
At a Law Society hosted roundtable meeting with the Malaysian Bar Council and representatives of a number of City firms on Tuesday (1 October), Chris Leong confirmed that long-awaited amendments to the Legal Profession (Amendment) Act 2012 were tabled and passed by Malaysian Parliament’s Dewan Rakyat (lower house) on the 24 September. The amendments to the Act remove the controversial clauses in the Legal Profession (Amendment) Act 2012 that sought to prohibit fly-in/fly-out legal services provided by foreign lawyers. They also seek to clarify the provisions on foreign lawyers acting in Malaysian arbitrations.
Nankunda Katangaza (pictured), Head of International Policy at the Law Society, said: “The passing of these amendments marks the next step towards liberalisation of the Malaysian legal services market.
“UK law firms are highly regarded around the globe. The success of these talks is good news for both our members and the Malaysian profession. We look forward to continuing to work with colleagues in Malaysia so that Malaysians will soon see the benefits of more choice of high-quality legal services.”
The Act is expected to be tabled and passed by the Dewan Negara (upper house) in the coming month and gazetted shortly. Implementing regulations will be published at the same time.
Mr Leong also confirmed that the Bar Council was open to receiving applications for licences in advance of the implementation date and keen to work with firms and the Law Society to build its capacity to regulate foreign lawyers and to ensure liberalisation benefits the Malaysian legal profession.
It is expected that foreign law firms should be able to be up and running by the second quarter of 2014. The application process, for which the rules are available on request from the MBC, will open as soon as the amended Act has been passed.