Singapore set to relax practice restrictions

The Singapore government is about to give the green light to foreign lawyers to practise local law.

When passed, the amendments to the Legal Profession Act currently before the Singapore parliament could open a floodgate for firms wishing to strengthen their Asia operations.

Foreign firms with offices in Singapore are currently unable to practise local law.

But the country's parliament is set to allow lawyers to practise local law through joint ventures and formal alliances.

Ashurst Morris Crisp's head of Asia Alan Kitchen believes the move will be highly attractive to non-national firms.

He says: “The proposals are very interesting and I think it is going to give rise to a lot of opportunities for foreign law firms.

“It is a sign of how things are changing as a whole in Asia.”

“When you practise local law it provides a much more solid base for your practice.”

A range of UK firms already have operations in Singapore, including Watson Farley & Williams, Allen & Overy and Freshfields.

Foreign lawyers will answer to Singapore's attorney-general. It is expected they will not be able to act in litigation.