The Bar Council has taken note of the newspaper articles appearing in The Business Times on 13 April 2013 and The Star on 18 June 2013, together with the radio interview on BFM 89.9, pertaining to Answers–in–Law (“AIL”) and its service model.
As background information, AIL’s operations have been of grave concern to the Malaysian Bar since 2010, and Bar Council has been taking active steps to address the matter over the last two years.
AIL is operating under a company named Index Continent Sdn Bhd (“Index Continent”). In November 2010, several Members of the Bar had written in to ask the Bar Council if the “arrangement” proposed by AIL was sanctioned by the Bar Council. It was decided at that juncture that it was not, as Index Continent was deemed to be an “unauthorised person” under section 37 of the Legal Profession Act 1976 (“LPA”).
The Malaysian Bar brought injunction proceedings against Index Continent in July 2011 for a declaration that the company is an “unauthorised person” under sections 36 and 37 of the LPA, and sought an injunction to restrain the company from advertising and carrying on such services. An interim injunction was granted by the High Court in November 2011, and the injunction was finally granted in January 2012. Index Continent, through its lawyers, appealed against this decision. The High Court dismissed the argument, but on appeal in June 2012 the Court of Appeal allowed the company’s appeal and overturned the High Court’s decision.
The Malaysian Bar filed an application for leave to appeal to the Federal Court in July 2012. The application has yet to be disposed of, as it is pending issuance of the written grounds of judgment by the Court of Appeal.
In the interim period, Index Continent applied to the High Court to strike out the Malaysian Bar’s suit based on the Court of Appeal decision, and the application was allowed by the High Court. However, a stay order was granted pending issuance of the grounds of judgment by Court of Appeal and the outcome of the Bar’s application for leave to appeal to the Federal Court.
Remedial steps are being taken by the Malaysian Bar to address these concerns.
Karen Cheah Yee Lynn
Legal Profession Committee
22 July 2013