Legal Profession (Group Law Practice) Rules 2018 Came into Operation on 30 June 2018

Circular No 166/2018
Dated 6 July 2018

To Members of the Malaysian Bar

Legal Profession (Group Law Practice) Rules 2018 Came into Operation on 30 June 2018

We refer to Circular No 189/2017 dated 23 Aug 2017, Circular No 225/2017 dated 11 Oct 2017, and Circular No 021/2018 dated 19 Jan 2018, informing Members of the Bar Council’s initiative, through its Small Firm Practice Committee, to introduce rules to permit law firms to practise and operate through a Group Law Practice.

The Legal Profession (Group Law Practice) Rules 2018 (“Rules”) drafted by the Bar Council was approved by the Attorney General on 12 June 2018, gazetted on 25 June 2018, and came into operation on 30 June 2018.  A copy of the Rules (in Bahasa Malaysia and English) is attached, and is also accessible here.

The Rules essentially allow small law firms to practise and operate as a group by sharing premises and facilities while remaining as separate entities.  Under the Rules, the features of a Group Law Practice would include the following:

(1) A Group Law Practice shall consist of between two to five small law firms.  A small firm is one with not more than five advocates and solicitors, and that does not have branches;
(2) A Group Law Practice is not a legal entity, is not operated as a partnership, and cannot have a branch;
(3) The law firms in a Group Law Practice are to operate from shared premises at a common address, and may share facilities such as a library, furnishings and equipment;
(4) A Group Law Practice shall bear a name — which includes the words “Group Law Practice” — that has been approved by the Bar Council.  The law firms in the Group Law Practice shall use the Group Law Practice name, along with the law firm’s name, in their operations; and
(5) The law firms in the Group Law Practice may operate a common bank account to meet the common expenses of the Group Law Practice.  Each law firm shall maintain its own office account and its client accounts.

In line with the introduction of Group Law Practice, Ruling 7.03 of the Rules and Rulings of the Bar Council relating to the sharing of office or premises has been amended, as marked below:

Bar Council Ruling 7.03: Sharing Office or Premises

Where an Advocate and Solicitor shares an office or premises with another person (“Person”), whether an Advocate and Solicitor or not, the office or premises must be partitioned off with separate and distinct entrances, with no connecting door between the 2 offices or premises.

This Ruling shall not apply to:

(a) Advocates and Solicitors of the same law firm; or

(b) an Advocate and Solicitor, or a partner or partners of his/her firm who has/have an interest in the Person, and the Person carries on such business as is permitted under Ruling 5.13A; or

(c) a law firm that is part of an international partnership that has been granted a licence under section 40F of the Legal Profession Act 1976; or

(d) a law firm that is part of a Group Law Practice established under the Legal Profession (Group Law Practice) Rules 2018;

provided always that the law firm, and the international partnership and the Group Law Practice preserve and observe at all times the duty of confidentiality in respect of privileged information owed to their respective clients.

The amended Ruling 7.03 took effect on 30 June 2018.

A Group Law Practice is a cost-effective alternative mode of practice for small law firms.  Members are encouraged to take advantage of this option, which is intended to reduce operating costs for small law firms and to increase their efficiency and competitiveness.

If your law firm wishes to apply to establish a Group Law Practice, please complete the “Application Form for Setting Up a Group Law Practice”, which is available here on the Malaysian Bar website.  Applications may be submitted in hard copy to the Bar Council Secretariat, or by email to membership@malaysianbar.org.my.

We will provide additional information in due course, and will conduct briefings to increase awareness regarding practising through a Group Law Practice.

Should you have any enquiries, please contact the Membership Department by telephone at 03-2050 2191, or by email at membership@malaysianbar.org.my.

Thank you.

R Jayabalan
Chairperson
Small Firm Practice Committee

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