UK firm Trowers & Hamlins has become the first foreign law firm to be granted a qualified foreign law firm (QFLF) licence in Malaysia.

The QFLF licence is valid for three years with an option for renewal and will allow Trowers to work on a stand-alone basis advising on international legal matters. However, while the firm can operate without partnering a local firm, it will not be permitted to advise on Malaysian law.

Nick White, regional managing partner at the firm said: "Having a presence on the ground in Malaysia over the last three years has really helped us strengthen and grow client relationships. From Kuala Lumpur we have access to the entire ASEAN region, and now, with a QFLF licence, we will be able to grow additional capacity to further advance our reach and capabilities here."

Trowers & Hamlins operated a non-trading representative regional office in Kuala Lumpur since July 2012. With the new development, Islamic finance co-head and projects partner Nicholas Edmondes - the firm’s Islamic finance co-head and projects partner - will join Nick White at the local office.

Malaysia’s QFLF system was implemented in June 2014 following amendments to the Malaysian Legal Profession Act 1976 (LPA). An earlier amendment to the LPA designed to open up the legal services market to foreign law firms allowed foreign lawyers to work in the country for up to 60 days.

Strongly oriented to Islamic finance, Trowers & Hamlins was the only UK firm to have an official non-trading representative office in Malaysia. The firm has offices in the UK and the Middle East, with Kuala Lumpur as its sole office in Asia.