Thursday June 14, 2012
Foreign lawyers must ensure transfer of expertise, says Liew
FOREIGN lawyers who want to practise in the country must ensure the transfer of expertise, said Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong.
He said the Legal Profession (Amendment) Bill, which was passed after three days of heated debate, also aimed to liberalise the legal profession to develop Malaysia into an international Islamic financial hub and expand its industrial expertise.
“According to Bank Negara, there is positive indication that demand for Islamic finance is on the rise worldwide and now worth around US$100bil (RM300bil).
“With this amendment, Malaysia can secure its position as one of the key players in the Islamic finance sector,” he said in his reply to issues raised during debate.
Liew said foreign lawyers who wanted to practise in the country on a short-term basis would have to obtain permission from the Attorney-General's Chambers and apply to the court.
The Bill, he added, was crucial in ensuring the local presence of foreign legal firms, adding that one of the stipulated requirements would be for a senior partner to be based here and for him to be in the country for at least 182 days a year.
Liew said foreign law firms which practised without a licence could be fined up to RM100,000, adding that a selection committee would recommend to the Bar Council on the granting of licences to international partnerships, qualified foreign law firms and Malaysian legal firms employing foreign lawyers.
He said foreign lawyers could only work in the permitted areas of practice, which would be determined later, and licences would only be issued if conditions were met.
“International law firms which want to be based here must have a good reputation, not have any disciplinary action taken against them or be involved in criminal or civil proceedings,” he said.