Our first trade mission to Malaysia

We helped our firms gain an understanding of the market and insight into the opportunities available during our first trade mission to Malaysia.

Trade mission to Malaysia

The purpose of the mission was to support our members in building business connections and understand the market, and to engage with the Malaysian Bar Council on practice rights issues.

What we did

Eight firms of different sectors and sizes from across the UK joined our trade mission in July.

We met with three Malaysian law firms:

  • Izral Partnership – boutique law firm
  • Shearn Delamore & Co – the largest full-service law firm in Malaysia
  • GM Tan & Co – the founder and employees of sole-practitioner

The firms told us about developments in the courts and legal services in Kuala Lumpur.

As a result, our members have said that they're likely to do business with the Malaysian firms that we met on a number of issues.

In a private meeting, the president and senior officeholders of the Malaysian Bar Council discussed the legal services sector, the economy, and operating as an advocate in Malaysia.

The British High Commission in Malaysia also gave a briefing on the current market for foreign law firms featuring a partner of one of the two foreign law firms in Malaysia.

At our joint seminar with the Malaysian Bar Council, delegates also spoke at a panel discussions on:

  • safeguarding intellectual property: case studies from Asia and the UK/Europe
  • foreign direct investment: issues and opportunities in Malaysia and the UK

Other speakers represented Foong Cheng Leong and the Malaysian Investment Development Authority.

More than 30 Malaysian lawyers attended the event at the Asian International Arbitration Centre (AIAC).

Our international team also met separately with senior officials of the Malaysian Bar Council to discuss the opportunity given by the attorney general to propose amendments to the Legal Profession Act 1976.

We're continuing to engage with the Malaysian Bar Council on this development.

Malaysia market insight

Since the Asian financial crisis, Malaysia has built up a strong economy. It has averaged around 5% growth since 2010 and is aiming to become a high-income nation by 2024.

The largest sector of the economy is services, accounting for around 54% of GDP. Trade is driven by China, Singapore and the UK, with the US as the largest trading partner.

In 2019, international arbitration and foreign investment are the major focus of the legal services market. The recently relaunched AIAC has heard 779 cases in 2018, an increase of 39% on the previous year.

Ongoing Belt and Road projects, such as Forest City, the East Coast Rail Link and Banda Malaysia, are a large source of foreign investment.

There is a great deal of two-way investment between Malaysia and the UK, particularly in education.

What they said

Feedback we received from our delegates has been extremely positive:

  • “100% attendance from both sides made for a very powerful opening meeting. Very impressive” [meeting with Malaysian Bar]
  • “An important meeting for those like me with an arbitration practice. A good introduction to the relatively new centre. I shall certainly follow up” [meeting with AIAC]
  • “I was gratified to see that the meeting was well attended by many of their lawyers, and I was particularly impressed by the head of their China desk who usefully shared his experience in working with Chinese lawyers” [meeting with firms]
  • “An excellent forum for sharing experiences and concerns common to both sides. It was a very open discussion that led to the sharing of useful ideas” [meeting with Malaysian Bar]
  • “It was an excellent choice to cater for delegates from UK and Malaysian law firms of different sizes, instead of favouring large international law firms. This ensures that the trip is beneficial for everyone regardless of the size of their firm. The organisers did a good job to ensure that the mission covered as many areas of law to ensure no one was left out”

We wish to thank the delegates for their contribution to our inaugural mission and our colleagues in Malaysia – and in particular, the Malaysian Bar Council – for their assistance in arranging this event.

We look forward to receiving a reciprocal visit.

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