A new proposal by the Indonesian bar association will prevent foreign lawyers wishing to practice in the country unless they can pass an ethics exam….in Indonesian.
Although they are banned from practising Indonesian law and can only work as international legal consultants, the proposal is bad news for Jakarta-based partners at top international firms such as Norton Rose Fulbright, SSEK, ZTE, Herbert Smith Freehills and Allen & Overy.
It is unlikely that the people working at these top legal firms will have the time to brush up on their Indonesian, so it is likely that they will need high quality legal translation services. Indonesian or ‘Bahasa Indonesia’ has 23 million native speakers and 140 million second language speakers. It is a standardised register of Malay, an Austronesian language that has been used as a lingua franca in the Indonesian archipelago for centuries.
Legal firms will need top quality legal translation from Indonesian to English that is carried out by someone who understands not only the two languages, but the specific legal language that will go into an ethics exam if they are to be allowed to continue practicing law in Indonesia.
Commentators have speculated that this is simply economic protectionism from the Indonesian government that presides over the second fastest growing G-20 major economy, behind only China.
The British government will hope that the proposals don’t go through, as they have begun to champion the work that British legal firms do for the economy by hosting the first ever UK global law summit from 2015.
Secretary of State for Justice Chris Grayling said: “The Global Law Summit 2015 will be a world class conference showcasing the UK’s unrivalled legal expertise, based on a long history of freedom and justice.
“I am determined to help UK law firms and lawyers succeed in the global race and develop the business opportunities created by their world class reputation.
“We will be working with legal professional bodies and business to champion one of the UK’s greatest exports, our legal system. The summit will also mark 800 years of the Magna Carta, a tradition that still provides the foundation for the best commercial and legal environment for business to flourish.”
The Global Law Summit will be held from the 23rd-25th February 2015 at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Westminster London, and is an independent legal business conference founded by the Ministry of Justice, the City of London Corporation, the Bar Council of England and Wales and the Law Society of England and Wales.
Sir David Wootton, Co-Chair of the Global Law Summit Board and Lord Mayor of London 2011-12 said: “I am delighted to co-chair the Board, alongside Henry Bellingham MP, for the Global Law Summit, which will be a key event in the 2015 international legal calendar. The year 2015 represents a unique opportunity to celebrate 800 years of legal history, and the Global Law Summit will be a fantastic way of showcasing the UK as a world leader in legal services and business, and promoting the Rule of Law.”
The planned event is a timely one as the British government is looking for more foreign investment and better cross-border business relations to be established, particularly in the successful legal sector.