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KUALA LUMPUR, April 12 — Law firms in Malaysia have been asked not to reopen during the movement control order (MCO) where all non-essential activities have to be paused, the Malaysian Bar has said in conveying a minister’s message.
In a circular yesterday to its members, the Malaysian Bar said it would provide further updates once more information is available.
“The President of the Malaysian Bar received a telephone call from YB Dato’ Takiyuddin Hassan, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law), yesterday, and this was followed by an official email from his office requesting that law firms remain closed during the MCO period.
“The reason advanced by YB Dato’ Takiyuddin seems to suggest that based on his conversation with YB Dato’ Seri Azmin, the MITI media statement lacks specifics and a clear definition of “legal services”,” the circular signed off by Malaysian Bar secretary AG Kalidas read. MITI is the acronym of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry.
“The Bar Council was informed that the Government will provide clarification and a standard operating procedure for the legal sector to Members of the Bar, upon discussion with the National Security Council (‘NSC’).
“The Bar Council will monitor the situation and inform Members once there is more clarity in relation to this matter,” the circular added.
The circular was issued after the government’s announcement on April 10 via Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Seri Azmin Ali of a list of additional sectors or services that would be allowed to operate during the MCO.
Law firms were previously not classified as essential services that can remain open during the MCO, and the MITI list attached to Azmin’s April 10 announcement did not state law firms as a category by itself that would be allowed to operate.
But included in the MITI list was the category science, professional and technical services including research and development, with the statement that this was limited only to legal-related services, oil and gas-related services, R&D services related to Covid-19, lab tests for sectors that were allowed to operate.
The announcement was made on the same day as the government’s announcement of its decision to extend the MCO for the second time, with the additional two-week extension meaning that it would go on until April 28.