Statement on Proposed Amendments of the Legal Profession Act in Malaysia
The Japan Federation of Bar Associations (“JFBA”) was informed that the Government of Malaysia intends to amend the Legal Profession Act (“LPA”) and that the Malaysian Bar Council strongly opposed the amendments as it would seriously damage its independence and self-governance. The JFBA is aware that the amendment could include provisions that would grant the Minister in charge of legal affairs the powers (1) to appoint two members of the Bar onto the Bar Council to represent the Government and (2) to make rules and regulations with respect to the conduct of the elections to the Bar Council and of the Office Bearers of the Bar.
The “Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers” (1990) (the “Basic Principles”), adopted by the Eighth Crime Prevention Congress of the UN, guarantee lawyers’ activities, provide that lawyers shall be entitled to form self-governing professional associations, and that the executive body of such associations shall be elected by its members and shall exercise its functions without external interference (Principle 24). Also it is common understanding that the independence of lawyers and bar associations is an integral part of the rule of law. Any interference from the government with this independence and self-governance is not acceptable.
Therefore, the JFBA is deeply concerned about the scheduled amendments of the LPA in Malaysia and supports the ongoing independence of Malaysia’s lawyers. In line with the Basic Principles, the JFBA respectfully requests that the independence of lawyers’ professional associations be guaranteed without any restriction imposed.
September 30, 2016
Japan Federation of Bar Associations