Article and photos contributed by Kenneth Ang, Director, Special Projects & International Liaison, Bar Council Secretariat
Bar Council Malaysia organised two legal market visits to China in as many months: Dalian (Liaoning Province) on 18 June 2019, and Hainan (Hainan Province) on 22 July 2019. The visits were the Bar Council's first official business development missions to each of these provinces. The market visit to Dalian was led by the President of the Malaysian Bar, Abdul Fareed Abdul Gafoor, while the Hainan market visit was led by the Vice–President of the Malaysian Bar, Roger Chan Weng Keng.
The market visits received encouraging support from Members of the Bar, with the participation of 17 Members from 11 law firms. These law firms generally have existing Chinese clients and / or are looking for new work opportunities with Chinese firms and lawyers.
The highlight of the mission was the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding ("MOU") between the Malaysian Bar and the Dalian Lawyers Association.
Signing ceremony of MOU between President of the Malaysian Bar, Abdul Fareed Abdul Gafoor, and President of the Dalian Lawyers Association, Yang Jiajun in Dalian, China on 18 June 2019.
The Malaysian Bar has inked MOUs with six lawyers associations from China in the span of three years, namely the China Law Society, Guangxi Lawyers Association, Guangdong Lawyers Association, Shenzhen Lawyers Association, Hainan Lawyers Association, and now the Dalian Lawyers Association.
These MOUs have paved the way for the Malaysian Bar to work with the various lawyers associations. One of the successful Bar–to–Bar programmes is the lawyers exchange programme. Bar Council Malaysia has conducted two series of such programmes –– with Guangxi (in 2017) and Guangdong (including Shenzhen and Qianhai) (in 2019), with a total participation of 14 Malaysian lawyers. On the basis of reciprocity, the Malaysians' law firms hosted 20 lawyers from Guangxi and Guangdong.
The Bar–to–Bar MOUs aside, the law firms that took part in the market visits signed cooperation agreements with their counterparts in Dalian and Hainan. The non–binding cooperation agreements signify that firms from both jurisdictions will regard each other as "business partners" and support their mutual clients' needs. Malaysian and Chinese firms that have signed the cooperation agreements have enjoyed promising opportunities for collaboration, ranging from business and client referrals to end–to–end legal work support, and are continuing to build their own networks both in Malaysia and China.
The Bar Council had, in the beginning of 2019, imposed a condition whereby Members of the Bar who wish to join its market visits have to pay a RM1,000 deposit to secure a place. The deposit –– which will be refunded upon the Member's successful completion of the mission –– is to help to ensure that Members who have registered do not withdraw without sufficient reason as this deprives other Members from an opportunity to participate, since places are limited.
We are encouraged that even with the imposition of this condition, the response from Members continues to be remarkable. We thank the Members who participated in these missions and hope that the visits were valuable. We look forward to seeing them and other Members of the Bar in our future missions.
(1) Market Visit to Dalian (18 June 2019)
(2) Market Visit to Hainan (22 July 2019)