Recently, the Legal Profession Act was passed, permitting foreign lawyers to practice in the Maldives under a special regulation formulated by the Bar Council.
The regulation was made public on 2nd September and states that foreign lawyers should provide information related to them and the case they are working on to the Bar Council before they are allowed to practice.
The regulatory body will also be seeking relevant documents if necessary, which are to be provided upon request. Further, only lawyers with a clean criminal record and have a valid license will be permitted to practice.
According to a local lawyer with over 20 years experience in the field, the permission is given to the foreign lawyers in an “unusual situation”. “I believe that foreign lawyers are allowed to practice when they provide an insight into something we don’t usually know or have expertise in.”
The guideline states that foreign lawyers can be hired only in the case that technical and capable lawyers for the specific case are not available in the Maldives, or if a limited number of lawyers are available for such cases.
However, a young lawyer in the country believes that although the quality will improve here, big law firms in the country are likely to disagree with this law. This is because there could be fewer opportunities for them and they might lose control of big clients.
In Singapore, after passing the Foreign Practitioner Examinations, a foreign qualified lawyer can be registered with the Legal Services Regulatory Authority (LSRA) as a foreign practitioner and practice permitted areas of Singapore law. Permitted areas of Singapore law include banking law, corporate law, intellectual property law and maritime law.
The Maldives is also charging a special fee from foreign lawyers to obtain the permit. MVR 2,000 will be charged for permits to practice at lower courts, while MVR 5,000 will be charged to practice at the High Court. MVR 10,000 will be charged for practice at the Supreme Court.
So, with an effective guideline, it is believed that the country will benefit by allowing foreign lawyers to practice in the country.