Foreign Firms and Lawyers Now Welcome in Malaysia

A press release from the Malaysian Bar this morning announced amendments to the Legal Profession Act and Legal Profession Rules that open up Malaysia to foreign firms and lawyers. “The opening up of Malaysia to foreign law firms and foreign lawyers is a natural progression as world and regional economies become more integrated in trade in goods and services,” the statement opens.

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The new legislative changes include allowances for international partnerships between Malaysian and foreign firms, for foreign forms to register as stand-alone firms, and relaxed entry standards for foreign lawyers traveling to the country in order to represent Malaysian clients. The new legislation represents a shift forward in the gradual and continued reforms to the nation’s legal services.

The CEELI Institute has a particular interest in legal reforms in this region due to our ongoing programs in Burma and trainings with the Myanmar Lawyers Network.

Conference of the Chairmen of the Supreme Courts of Central and Eastern Europe

The Conference of the Chairmen of the Supreme Courts of Central and Eastern Europe began yesterday, June 23, in Tbilisi, Georgia. The conference, launched by the CEELI Institute in 2007, is now a self-sustaining program dedicated to eliminating judicial corruption by sharing experiences and discussing issues occurring at the highest levels of the region’s justice systems. CEELI Executive Director Christopher Lehmann is attending the conference, along with Board member Judge John Walker, who has attended and shepherded the project since its conception in 2007. Judge Walker is pictured below alongside Judge J. Clifford Wallace, of the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and Justice Vesna Medenica, President of the Supreme Court of Montenegro. Read more about the conference here.

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CEELI Concludes Judicial Roundtable

Yesterday marked the end of the Central and Eastern European Judicial Exchange Network Roundtable, which took place June 16 and 17 at the Villa Gröbovka. The morning session tasked the participants with discussing “Balancing Independence with Accountability to Civil Society.” Preceding the discussion, Ms. Bilyana Wegertseder, Director at the Bulgarian Institute for Legal Initiatives, gave a fascinating presentation on the database her organization has put together profiling Bulgarian judges and prosecutors.2014-06-16 09.05.07

Ms. Wegertseder gave a virtual walk-through of the database, discussing the benefits and difficulties of trying to gather public information from potentially difficult sources and giving the public accurate pictures of the people the organization profiles. This presentation led to an involved debate on how much information the public should have about the private lives of judges and how to balance judge privacy and security with accountability and transparency. 2014-06-16 08.45.56

After the coffee break, Judge Bohdan Poshva, of the Trial Chamber of Criminal Cases of the Supreme Court in Ukraine, presented on the legislative difficulties the judiciary faces in his country and outlined the reforms he would like to see effected to change the judicial structure. The discussion following this presentation focused then on the structures of Central and Eastern European judiciaries and the role of the European Court of Human Rights for individual judges. 2014-06-17 08.12.28

The group then broke for lunch and was welcomed back after the break with a lecture by Dr. Levente Simon, from the National Judicial Council of Hungary. Dr. Simon gave a focused, informative lecture on his country’s experiences with developing an official code of ethics for judges and prosecutors. The conversation expanded beyond questions of how to develop a code of ethics (a particularly interesting topic because of the difference in cultural expectations citizens around the region have) to a discussion of which countries an official code of ethics is desirable for. This topic of building judicial integrity became the final talking point of the day. Judges Tunheim and Westhoff alongside CEELI Institute Executive Director Christopher Lehmann congratulated the participants, handing each one a certificate for completing the intensive two-day conference. 2014-06-17 09.47.59

Once again, the CEELI Institute would like to thank our faculty for their leadership and guidance during the conference, in addition to all our participants. This was a lively, knowledgeable, and thoroughly engaged group of individuals committed to preserving judicial integrity and independence, and we are grateful you all could join us. To see the full album of pictures from the event, and to stay updated on our upcoming programs, like our page on Facebook!