Legal Business Blogs

Opening up new markets: Trowers applies for foreign firm licence in Malaysia

Trowers & Hamlins has chosen to build on its representative office in Malaysia, following the country’s legal market liberalisation, by applying for a qualified foreign law firm (QFLF) licence.

The move comes as the firm plans to expand its Asia footprint, and follows changes to the Legal Profession Act, which in June 2014 opened the country’s doors to allow foreign firms to practise law as a QFLF or international partnership.

Trowers & Hamlins was the first foreign firm to launch a representative office in Kuala Lumpur in 2012 after it received approval from the Malaysia Investment Development Authority. Jennie Gubbins, senior partner, said: ‘We have submitted an application to be accepted as a QFLF under the recently introduced regime in Malaysia relating to liberalisation of the legal profession. We do not yet know the outcome of our application, so it would be premature to say any more at this stage, other than that we do very much hope that the application will be successful.’

The firm anticipates a status update on the application in March.

According to The Law Society, interest in legal services opportunities between Malaysia and the UK has soared given the recent liberalisation of the Malaysian legal services market. At the time, the Law Society of England and Wales president Andrew Caplen said: ‘With Malaysia opening its legal services market and both countries pledging to double the value of bilateral trade to £8bn by 2016, we also have every reason to talk business.’

At the end of the 2013/14 financial year, Trowers unveiled mixed financials with net profits up almost 15% to £18.1m, while global revenue was down by 1.4% to £77.2m. At the time, the firm blamed its marginal drop in revenue on exchange rate differences, but singled out its real estate practice as the star performer of the year, citing inward investment from the Middle East and Far East as a contributor in its real estate practice generating around 43% of the firm’s overall turnover.