International firm Herbert Smith Freehills is to become the second UK-based practice to open in Malaysia following moves to liberalise the country’s legal services market. 

The Kuala Lumpur office, expected to open in May, will provide advice on transactions, disputes and Islamic finance.

The firm was granted a qualified foreign law firm licence from the Malaysian Bar, which allows foreign firms and lawyers to practise non-Malaysian law there. So far Trowers & Hamlins is the only other firm to have obtained such a licence.

It will be Herbert Smith Freehills’ ninth office in Asia, and its 27th office worldwide. The firm already has a presence in three south-east Asian jurisdictions, with offices in Singapore, Jakarta and Bangkok.

Sonia Leydecker, chief executive of Herbert Smith Freehills, said in a statement this morning: ‘After working with Malaysian clients for over 20 years, we are delighted that we can now offer them legal expertise on the ground in Kuala Lumpur, providing easier local access to our international network for their overseas business.

‘The new office will also be welcomed by our many international clients with existing operations and investments in Malaysia, and by those planning expansion into south-east Asia.’