Effective 3 June 2014, the Legal Profession (Amendment) Act 2012 came into force which seeks to amend the Legal Profession Act  1976. It also aims to liberalise the Malaysian legal services market and to allow the entry of foreign law firms and lawyers which in turn  would enable the Malaysian law firms to compete with the same on a level playing field.

Simultaneous with the coming into force of the Amendment Act, the following Acts and Rules have also come into force (a) the Legal Profession (Amendment) Act 2012 (Amendment) Act 2013; (b) the Legal Profession (Amendment) Act 2013; and (c) the Legal Profession (Licensing of International Partnerships and Qualified Foreign Law Firms and Registration of Foreign Lawyers) Rules 2014.

One of the significant amendments found in the Legal Profession (Amendment) Act 2012 is the insertion of the new Part IVA which deals with international partnerships, qualified foreign law firms and registration of foreign lawyers. International partnerships, qualified foreign law firms and foreign lawyers are only allowed to practice in the permitted practice areas and the Legal Profession (Licensing of International Partnerships and Qualified Foreign Law Firms and Registration of Foreign Lawyers) Rules 2014 provides a guide as to how they may go about in doing so.

There are, however certain practice areas which are excluded under the Rules and these include:

  • Constitutional and administrative law;
  • Conveyancing;
  • Criminal law;
  • Family law;
  • Succession law, including matters relating to wills, intestate succession and probate and administration;
  • Trust law, in any case where the settlor is an individual, and the law relating to charities and trust foundations, whether established by an individual or a corporation;
  • Retail banking, including corporate or commercial loans to small and medium enterprises;
  • Registration of intellectual property.