Three British law firms – understood to be City practices – have applied for a special licence to allow them to practice in Malaysia.
The Bar Council there is reportedly strongly opposed to the entry of foreign lawyers but the final decision rests with the Malaysian Attorney-General, Tan Sri Mohtar Abdullah.
The A-G has been empowered to issue special certificates to admit foreign lawyers to practice in Malaysia since the relevant section of the Legal Profession Act (LPA) came into force in February.
The UK Law Society is also pushing for British solicitors to be allowed to give advice on English law in the region, but Abdullah says the LPA only permits foreign lawyers to be attached to a local law firm or the Government.
The applications – which include one from an American firm – are currently being processed but apparently no decision has yet been made because the lawyers did not provide adequate information.