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Peninsular lawyers not completely ‘barred’ from Sabah, S’wak

almost 2 years ago jayeff

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Joseph Francis

joseph@asklegal.my

If a party in any legal proceeding requires legal representation of a lawyer from outside Sabah, that party can get the lawyer concerned to apply for ‘ad hoc’ admission to practise in that matter.

BAR The Sabah Law Association (SLA) begs to differ with those who continue to criticize a Federal Court decision on 7 December 2015 on whether a lawyer called to the Sabah Bar may represent a party in arbitration “proceedings conducted and heard in Sabah”. “The Federal Court decision laid any doubt to rest.”

The decision, said a spokesman, reaffirms and reinforces the “exclusive right” of Sabah lawyers to practise in Sabah as stated in section 8(1) of the Advocates Ordinance (Sabah cap. 2).

The SLA expressed confidence that “Sabah will not lose out in arbitration business” following the Federal Court decision.

“The decision of the apex court further strengthens the notion that ‘unqualified lawyers’ from outside Sabah are not entitled to perform any form of legal work whether outside or in the courts. Otherwise, they would be committing an offence pursuant to section 16(1) of the Advocates Ordinance of Sabah,” said the spokesman. “This includes legal services such as conveyancing works, banking documentation, drafting agreements, and corporate and advisory works performed in Sabah.”

The spokesman reminded that by a Joint Press Statement with the Advocates Association of Sarawak (AAS), the SLA had raised this issue on 19 October 2015 in stating that “legal services conducted in either Sabah or Sarawak are an exclusive right of lawyers from either of the two Borneo states respectively”.

The SLA position on the Federal Court decision comes with a caveat.

Notwithstanding the Federal Court decision, added the spokesman, the SLA would like to reiterate that the prohibition was not absolute. “The door is not tightly shut to lawyers from outside Sabah,” said the SLA. “Thus, if a party in any legal proceeding requires legal representation of a lawyer from outside Sabah, that party can get the lawyer concerned to apply for ‘ad hoc’ admission to practise in that matter pursuant to section 10(c ) of the Advocates Ordinance.”

The discretion to allow such as application was wholly within the purview of the Chief Judge of the High Court of Sabah and Sarawak, continued the spokesman. “For example, such permission was obtained recently by a litigant who sought to engage Geoffrey Robertson QC for a matter heard in the Federal Court in a case originating from Sabah.”

Sabah lawyers would greatly benefit, said the SLA, from the Federal Court decision in that it would put a stop to non-Sabah lawyers entering Sabah just to represent parties in arbitration proceedings without applying for “ad hoc” admission. “Such a practice would definitely take away the arbitration market business from Sabah lawyers.”

This article is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as legal advice. Every situation is unique and dependent on the facts (ie, the circumstances surrounding your individual case) so we recommend that you consult a lawyer before considering any further action. All articles have been scrutinized by a practicing lawyer to ensure accuracy.
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