In January 2019, the Bar Council of Malaysia submitted to the Attorney General the proposed reforms to the Legal Profession Act (LPA). One area that will be amended will be the provisions involving foreign lawyers and foreign law firms entering Malaysia to advise clients. I have written about Malaysia’s liberalisation of legal services previously.
The liberalisation of the legal market in Peninsular Malaysia to allow for the entry of foreign lawyers has been the subject of discussion stretching as far back as 1999.
Various amendments to the law came into force on 3 June 2014 and this allowed foreign law firms and foreign lawyers to practice in Peninsular Malaysia. One year on, I analyse what changes there have been and what the future possibly holds.
Part B. Three Entry Routes and Permitted Practice Areas
Underpinning the push for this liberalisation of the legal services was Bank Negara’s desire to allow foreign lawyers and foreign expertise to enter and to develop Malaysia into an international Islamic financial centre.
There are three entry routes for foreign lawyers:
(1) Qualified Foreign Law Firm (QFLF) – the stand-alone model where the foreign firm must demonstrate relevant legal expertise and experience in the permitted practice areas;
(2) International Partnership (IP) – the joint venture model with at least 60% equity by a Malaysian firm and not more than 40% by the foreign firm; and