Information on ABS and Gaikokuho-Jimu-Bengoshi
Amendments to the “Basic Rules for Duties of Gaikokuho-Jimu-Bengoshi” and the “Basic Rules Concerning Foreign Special Members” became effective as of April 1, 2018
1. Summary of Amendments
Since around 2011, Alternative Business Structure (ABS), a type of law firm that allows non-lawyers to own or hold voting rights, has been authorized in other jurisdictions, such as the United Kingdom.
In Japan, bengoshi (attorneys) are not permitted to share fees with non-lawyers and this rule applies equally to gaikokuho-jimu-bengoshi (registered foreign attorneys). When a gaikokuho-jimu-bengoshi who belongs to an ABS outside of Japan handles legal services in Japan, it may constitute a violation of such rule.
Under the amended JFBA Rules stated above, when registering as a gaikokuho-jimu-bengoshi, foreign lawyers will be prohibited from belonging to Investment-type ABS in foreign jurisdictions. As for Multi-Disciplinary Practice (MDP) type law firms, foreign lawyers will only be permitted to belong to an MDP which satisfies certain specified conditions. The amendments came into force as of April 1, 2018.
* 1 Investment-type ABS (a law firm that allows non-lawyers who do not participate in the services provided by such law firm to hold an equity interest)
* 2 MDP-type law firms (a law firm that allows other non-lawyer professionals who provide services offered by such firm to hold an equity interest)
Basic Rules on the Duties of Foreign Special Members (PDF file; 799KB)
Changes Under the Amendments
- Restrictions are related to foreign law firms to which a gaikokuho-jimu-bengoshi belongs.
A gaikokuho-jimu-bengoshi shall not be permitted to provide legal services in Japan as a gaikokuho-jimu-bengoshi while belonging to an Investment-type ABS. Belonging to an MDP-type law firm in a foreign jurisdiction shall only be permitted with respect to an MDP that satisfies certain specified conditions.
- A person who is expected to be newly registered as a gaikokuho-jimu-bengoshi after April 1, 2018, and who will continue to belong to a law firm in a foreign jurisdiction after registration, shall be required to register the matters and submit the documents set forth in the box below at the time of registration, in addition to the matters currently requested for registration.
- A person who is already registered as a gaikokuho-jimu-bengoshi and belongs to a law firm in a foreign jurisdiction will be required to register the matters set forth in the box below concerning such foreign law firm in the Roll of Registered Foreign Lawyers by submitting a report on the change of the registered matters, accompanied by the required documents, within two (2) weeks from April 1, 2018. as of April 1, 2018
Matters to be Registered
(1) Name of the law firm in foreign jurisdiction to which the gaikokuho-jimu-bengoshi belongs
(2) Country and address of the law firm to which the gaikokuho-jimu-bengoshi belongs
Documents to be Attached
Documents Required under Article11-4 of Basic Rules Concerning Foreign Special Members
English version for reference
Form9-2(English) (Excel File;66KB)
Note：For applicants’ convenience, the JFBA has revised the Form 9-2 (as of February 2020).
2. Consultation prior to submission (Foreign lawyers who intend to apply for qualification to become GJB with the Ministry of Justice and GJB)
- If the foreign entity to which you belong is in any of the jurisdictions specified in the blue box in the above chart, no prior consultation is necessary. Please submit the documents (Form 9-1, Form 9-2) set forth in Article 11-4 of the Basic Rules Concerning Foreign Special Members together with the registration application.
- If the foreign entity to which you belong is not in any of the jurisdictions specified in the blue box in the above chart, prior consultation with the JFBA is recommended. Please submit drafts of the documents (Form 9-1 and Form 9-2) set forth in Article 11-4 of the Basic Rules Concerning Foreign Special Members together with the application for prior consultation.
- It is recommended to apply for prior consultation at the earliest possible time in consideration of the time required for our reviewing process.
Application for Prior Consultation (Word Document Attached) ＊Only available in Japanese (Word File;40KB)
Frequently Asked Questions (PDF File;262KB)
3. Sample of Document Certifying the Pledged Matters (Form9-2)
＊ Samples are examples of filled in Forms. Please make sure to confirm the most recent laws and regulations of the jurisdiction of the foreign entity to which you belong regarding the applicable laws and regulations prior to submitting the documents.