Singapore’s Law Ministry has deferred the decision to renew the licenses of four law firms in the island city-state. Instead of renewals, the Law Ministry has granted four law firms in Singapore extensions which are temporary.
In 2020, the Law Ministry is going to revisit the matter of these law firm’s licenses and decide whether or not the law firms should get the renewals that the firms want. The four law firms in question are QFLP firms. QFLP stands for “qualifying foreign law practice”. These firms received licenses with five year limits back in 2013. The licenses could possibly have been renewed this year, as they are slated for expiry during 2018. However, the firms didn’t do well on their “report cards”. This means that they didn’t meet the initial commitments that they made years ago.
While the Law Ministry acknowledges that these four law firms did help Singapore’s legal services niche to grow, by increasing revenue to work offshore and doubling the amount of employees in their Singapore branches, the law firms experienced downturns which are linked by weak growth in the Asian market. As well, drops in the prices of commodities and decreases in acquisitions and mergers made it harder for these law firms to access profits and grow. The overall demand for legal services in the region has gone down over the past couple of years.
The decision to wait until 2020 before granting renewals (or refusing to grant renewals) will give the ministry more time to ponder the performance of these four law firms. Their contribution to Singapore will be evaluated carefully. As well, the proposals of each law firm will be examined in detail.
The law firms in question are Jones Day, Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, Sidley Austin and Linklaters. The QFLP setup is designed to foster development within the legal industry in Singapore. It’s designed to boost economic growth in the most important economic sectors. As well, it’s meant to provide extra opportunities to lawyers who are Singaporeans. Under the terms of the QFLP scheme, Foreign Law Practices are entitled to operate in Singapore, practicing Singaporean law, but they are restricted from taking care of litigation-related legal tasks and general practice legal tasks.
QFLPs are able to practice in permitted Singapore law areas only, via lawyers who are qualified in Singapore. The lawyers need certificates to practice. Foreign lawyers need to have valid foreign practitioner certificates.
How Many QFLP Firms Are There?
Right now, nine law firms have QFLP status in Singapore. Five of these firms were licensed as QFLPs before the others. The five law firms received their licenses during 2009. All renewed their licenses in 2014. These five firms are Clifford Chance, Norton Rose Fulbright, Allen & Overy, Latham & Watkins and White & Case.
In the future, the Singapore government may decide to renew the licenses of the four QFLPs who received temporary extensions instead of full renewals. It probably will depend on how much money these firms bring into Singapore before 2020.
About the Author
Morris Edwards is a content writer at CompanyRegistrationinSingapore.com.sg, he writes different topics like Singapore Fintech Hub Will Open India Office and Singapore’s Economy Is Expected to Grow This Year and all topics related to Business and Economy, if you are interested about Company Registration in Singapore visit our website.
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