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Types of Licence or Registration

The table below provides an overview of the key features of each type of licence or registration. For full details of the applicable requirements, privileges and conditions, please read the Legal Profession Act (Cap. 161), Legal Profession (Law Practice Entities) Rules 2015, and other relevant subsidiary legislation. Please note that the LSRA does not give legal or commercial advice. You should seek independent legal advice if required.

 

For more information, please refer to our FAQs.

 

 

Type of Licence or Registration

Description

Singapore Law Practice – Law Firm, Limited Liability Law Partnership or Law Corporation

Sections 131, 138 and 153 of the Legal Profession Act (Cap. 161)

A Singapore Law Practice (“SLP”) is allowed to provide in or from Singapore:

  • Singapore law-related legal services in all areas of legal practice; and
  • Foreign law-related legal services in all areas of legal practice that the SLP is competent to offer.

 

An SLP can be structured as a sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability partnership or company, and is required to apply for a law firm licence, limited liability law partnership licence or law corporation licence as applicable.

 

An SLP must satisfy the threshold requirements set out in rule 3 of the Legal Profession (Law Practice Entities) Rules 2015 for so long as its licence remains in force.  The threshold requirements include limits on the number of foreign lawyers who can practise in, or be directors, partners or shareholders in, or share in the profits of, the SLP.

Foreign Law Practice

Section 172 of the Legal Profession Act (Cap. 161)

A Foreign Law Practice (“FLP”) is allowed to provide in or from Singapore:

  • Foreign law-related legal services in all areas of legal practice that the FLP is competent to offer; and
  • Singapore law-related legal services only in the limited context of international commercial arbitration or in relation to the Singapore International Commercial Court (“SICC”), through certain types of registered lawyers. 

Qualifying Foreign Law Practice

Section 171 of the Legal Profession Act (Cap. 161)

The Qualifying Foreign Law Practice (“QFLP”) scheme was introduced in 2008, and allows foreign law practices which obtain a QFLP licence to provide in or from Singapore: 

  • Foreign law-related legal services in all areas of legal practice that the QFLP is competent to offer; and
  • Singapore law-related legal services in the “permitted areas of legal practice” through certain types of registered lawyers.

 

The QFLP licence is awarded after an application and selection process.

 

The QFLP scheme is not open for application currently and there are no details available regarding further rounds of applications.

Joint Law Venture

Section 169 of the Legal Profession Act (Cap. 161)

A Joint Law Venture (“JLV”) is a legal entity formed between a Singapore Law Practice (“SLP”), and either a Foreign Law Practice (“FLP”) or a Qualifying Foreign Law Practice (“QFLP”).

 

A JLV is allowed to provide in or from Singapore:

  • Foreign law-related legal services in all areas of legal practice that the JLV is competent to offer; and
  • Singapore law-related legal services in the "permitted areas of legal practice" through certain types of registered lawyers.

 

However, it should be noted that the constituent FLP/QFLP can only practise law in or from Singapore through the JLV, and not through the constituent FLP/QFLP. 

Formal Law Alliance

Section 170 of the Legal Profession Act (Cap. 161)

A Formal Law Alliance (“FLA”) is an arrangement between a Singapore law practice and a foreign law practice which enables them to collaborate while remaining freestanding law practices. An FLA arrangement allows the member law practices to share office premises, resources and client information as well as co-brand and bill for permitted matters. However, the member law practices remain distinct entities and may only provide legal services that the respective law practices and their lawyers are allowed to provide under the Legal Profession Act. 

 

The FLA scheme was conceived as a means to facilitate cooperation between two or more independent law practice entities that are capable of dealing with each other as equal partners. The relevant legal framework for approval of these applications is interpreted and applied by the LSRA in this context.

 

For further information, please refer to our list of Frequently Asked Questions (PDF, 565 KB) on the FLA scheme.

 

Group Practice

Part 5 and Division 6 of Part 6 of the Legal Profession (Law Practice Entities) Rules 2015

A Singapore Group Practice is an arrangement between one or more Singapore Law Practices (“SLPs”), while a Foreign Group Practice is an arrangement between one or more Foreign Law Practices (“FLPs”) and/or Qualifying Foreign Law Practices ("QFLPs").

 

The Group Practice structure enables two or more law practices to collaborate as freestanding law practices with the benefits of co-branding, and sharing of office premises, resources and client information.

 

A Group Practice is a grouping of law practices and cannot offer any legal services as a Group Practice. The member law practices remain distinct entities and may only provide legal services that the respective law practices and their lawyers are competent to provide.  

Representative Office

Section 173 of the Legal Profession Act (Cap. 161)

A Representative Office (“RO”) is set up by a law practice based outside Singapore to undertake only liaison or promotional work in or from Singapore.

 

An RO is not allowed to provide any legal services or conduct any other business activities in Singapore. In particular, it is not allowed to provide legal advice, conclude contracts or open or negotiate any letters of credit. 

 

Last updated on 30 Aug 2018