MH370: Bar considers action against 'illegal' foreign lawyers

MH370: Bar considers action against 'illegal' foreign lawyers
Bar Council president Christopher Leong
KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Bar is considering action against foreign lawyers if they continue to provide legal services to family members in the MH370 tragedy in Malaysia.

Bar Council president Christopher Leong said that it is illegal for foreign lawyers to be providing any kind of legal services in this country – including legal advice—as it would be contravening Malaysian laws such as the Legal Profession Act 1976.

“The Bar will take action against them if the news report is true and they continue to provide further legal services in Malaysia,” said Leong to Astro AWANI on Saturday.

On Saturday afternoon, US law firm Spagnoletti & Co, held a session at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur supposedly to meet with families of victims of MH370.
Although many local and foreign media were present at the event, a local representative of the firm said that the lawyers did not want to meet with the media.

It was unclear if the legal firm met any family members, although a few unidentified persons were seen entering and leaving a meeting room.


There had been several reported meetings held with foreign lawyers in the country, including US firm Ribbeck Law Chartered and Australian-based Shine Lawyers.

Referring to a legal proceeding that Ribbeck filed in the US, Leong said that it was found to be premature and wrong, and “invited strong criticism and rebuke from an American court”.

'Public should be careful'

Meanwhile, Leong reminded the public to be careful as they might not be protected if such foreign lawyers were to provide any wrong or negligent legal services.

“Members of the public should be careful to check if the professional indemnity or insurance policies of such foreign lawyers would cover for any wrong or negligent legal services provided by such lawyers, where such services are provided in contravention of Malaysian law,” he said.

Leong said that the Bar was checking if foreign lawyers have also contravened laws against touting or ‘ambulance chasing’.

Ambulance chasing is the practice of soliciting victims of accidents, encouraging them to sue for damages; it is illegal and unethical in Malaysia as well as in the US.

It was understood that the Bar could may take foreign firms to court or file a complaint with the regulatory body in that firm’s country.

Under the Legal Profession Act, a person found guilty of being an unauthorized advocate or solicitor can be fined up to RM2,500 or up to six months, or both.