Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) for lawyers: Be tabled in July Parliament session.

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Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) for lawyers was introduced in 2012 by the LLP Act 2012, that came into force in Dec 2012. However, apparently, an amendment to the Legal Profession Act 1976 (LPA) was needed to be made to avail LLP to lawyers. This was not done.

Before the last Parliamentary session in March 2018, the amendments had been drafted by the Bar Council and approved by the AGC for tabling in the March session. However, the then AGC missed that.

LLP for lawyers has become a norm in many established jurisdictions such as UK, Singapore, Hong Kong, etc. Lawyers there commonly practice as LLP. Their liability in practice is limited to the assets of the LLP and they do not bear personal liability beyond that. This is unlike the conventional partnership, which is still the only mode of practice available for law firm partnership in Malaysia, where partners take unlimited liability. If and when LLP is implemented, the position will change and liability will be limited to the assets of the firm.

Today, many lawyers in Malaysia still practice as sole proprietors. It is not uncommon that many corporates will not give matters to sole proprietors as they want firms to be partnership in order to be in their panels. One of the biggest barriers in those sole proprietors forming partnership is the fear of one having to take liability for others.

While it was expected that the amendments will be tabled in the upcoming Parliamentary session in July 2018, the Bar Council and the AG now seemingly propose a revamped LPA to be drafted instead of getting tabled the ready amendment in the July session.

While the revamped LPA may be a welcome affair, that is a gigantic and time consuming affair. There is no assurance as to how long will take nor is there a good reason why the ready amendments should not be tabled at once. It is unlikely that this tabling will take up any substantial time of the Parliament as this amendment-bill will by all likelihood go un-debated. Delaying, particularly delaying without a definite timeline, is against the spirit of the election manifesto of the new government, which has promised many matters within 100 days.

Accordingly, this petition to impress upon the Bar Council, AG and Law Minister to get tabled the ready-amendments to the LPA to implement LLP-for-Lawyers.

If necessary, an EGM may be called to take the views and votes of lawyers on this issue.

For members to call an EGM, 150 members must sign the requisition. At the EGM, the quorum required is 500 members. In such event, the agenda and motion will be that the Bar Council calls upon the AG and Law Minister to table the ready amendments in the July session, which will start on 16th July 2018.