Legal Business Blogs

Licence to operate: HSF latest to enter Kuala Lumpur as market liberalises

Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) announced today (13 January) it will open in Kuala Lumpur as part of its South East Asia expansion strategy. The firm has obtained a Qualified Foreign Law Firm licence from the Malaysian Bar Council, allowing it to practice without an association.

Subject to regulators, the new office is expected to open in May 2017, and will include transactional, contentious and Islamic finance capabilities.

Kuala Lumpur will be HSF’s ninth outpost in Asia, alongside Beijing, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo, Seoul, Bangkok and associated offices in Jakarta and Singapore. It will also be HSF’s 27th office globally.

The opening is in line with HSF’s expansion strategy in Southeast Asia. Alongside Singapore, Jakarta and Bangkok, the new office will handle matters for clients in all 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

HSF Asia & Australia managing partner Justin D’Agostino said: ‘Our Kuala Lumpur team is looking forward to contributing to the Malaysian legal, business and local communities as we grow our practice.’

D’Agostino (pictured) added: ‘Developing local talent is one of our key priorities, and we intend to continue working with Malaysian law firms, with whom we already have very strong relationships.’ he added.

Malaysia, which is a strong market for Islamic banking, construction and arbitration, has been popular with UK law firms in recent years since the introduction of the Legal Profession (Amendment) Act 2012, which has liberalised the market and encouraged foreign firms to join together in an international partnership or practise law as a qualified foreign law firm.

In April last year, Trowers & Hamlins became the first foreign law firm to secure a Qualified Foreign Law Firm (QFLF) licence in Malaysia, while in the same month DAC Beachcroft applied to the country’s Bar council for a joint venture (JV) licence with Kuala Lumpur-based association firm Gan Partnership.

Subscribers can read more in: ‘Consumed – Can burning ambition from Down Under recast Herbert Smith for the global stage?’