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Trowers & Hamlins becomes first foreign law firm to secure branch licence in Malaysia

Trowers & Hamlins becomes first foreign law firm to secure branch licence in Malaysia

Trowers & Hamlins is delighted to announce that it has become what it believes to be the first foreign law firm to be granted a Qualified Foreign Law Firm (QFLF) licence in Malaysia.  The licence was approved by the Malaysian Bar Council and is effective from 4 April 2015.

The QFLF licence will allow Trowers & Hamlins to operate independently in Malaysia and advise on international legal issues, subject to certain restrictions.  Firms with a QFLF, and firms that enter into International Partnerships licensed by the Malaysian Bar Council, will not be permitted to advise on Malaysian Law, which remains the preserve of the local law firms.  The QFLF licence will last for three years and is renewable.   

Jennie Gubbins, Trowers & Hamlins' senior partner, commented:  "We are delighted to have been awarded a QFLF licence, which builds on our existing presence in the region and our wider, global footprint across the Far East, Middle East and UK.  This is an important development for the firm and will position us to meet better the needs of our clients across the ASEAN region." 

Prior to receiving its QFLF licence, Trowers & Hamlins operated a non-trading representative Regional Office in Kuala Lumpur following approval from the Malaysia Investment Development Authority (MIDA).  When the office opened in July 2012, Trowers & Hamlins was the first foreign law firm – and the only UK law firm – to establish a representative Regional Office in Malaysia. 

Regional managing partner Nick White, who has been based in Kuala Lumpur since 2012, said:  "Having a presence on the ground in Malaysia over the last three years has really helped us strengthen and grow client relationships.  From Kuala Lumpur we have access to the entire ASEAN region, and now, with a QFLF licence, we will be able to grow additional capacity to further advance our reach and capabilities here."

Following Malaysia having announced its plans to liberalise its legal market and the passage of the Legal Profession (Amendment) Act 2012, the rules and regulations allowing foreign law firms to apply for a QFLF licence came into effect in June 2014.  At the moment, the Malaysian Bar Council has stated that only five QFLF licences will be made available. 

Partner Nicholas Edmondes, who will now be based in Kuala Lumpur alongside Nick White, added:  "The Malaysian Government has made it clear that one of the main reasons for liberalising the legal market was to attract foreign firms and help boost the country's Islamic finance market.  Only firms with strong Islamic finance practices are being considered and it is a testament to the strength of our practice that we have been selected as the first QFLF recipient." 

Trowers & Hamlins has advised numerous Malaysian clients over the years on their activities outside Malaysia, including significant inward investment deals by these clients into the UK and business activities in the Middle East.  From its UK, Middle East and Far East offices, the firm offers a comprehensive range of advice on corporate and commercial transactions, projects and dispute resolution.