This article is brought to you in part by Answers-in-Law.
Being a new expat in Malaysia can sometimes be a little overwhelming. There are so many things you need to think of; property, your job, where to shop and eat, getting reliable cable service, and so much more. But it is also important to find out more about your legal options, so that when the need arises, you can be assured that you have the right source to turn to for help.
Answers-In-Law (AIL) is a reliable legal service focused on providing residents and expats with legal services through a network of established independent law firms. This service will assist you with your questions, help you figure out your legal options, and provide you with access to the right kind of legal aid, based on your legal concerns.
Entrusting your legal concerns to a service can be intimidating if you are new and have questions about the service itself. To help clear your doubts, here are some questions you may have in mind about Answers-In-Law, together with the answers you need.
1. How does Answers-In-Law’s service benefit expatriates?
Expatriates may not be fully aware of the laws of this country. In the event of an unexpected incident or situation, e.g. a motor vehicle accident, theft, robbery etc. expatriates may not know what they should do and/or what are the procedures to follow, especially when they are already traumatised by the situation or incident. Answers-in-Law aims to empower expatriates with access to professional legal service providers to make informed decisions, safeguarding their interest and welfare.
2. Why was this business/service conceived?
Answers-In-Law was conceived as there was a real need among residents (citizens and foreign nationals) for access to legal professionals to make informed decisions. Whilst preventive diagnostics and medicine are available for healthcare, hence, reducing the need for treatment, access to similar services for legal matters is a rarity, therefore, resulting in people only seeking legal professionals when a legal matter has arisen. This results in a higher cost and anxiety in dealing with the situation. AIL seeks to bridge this gap by ensuring people have access to legal professionals from the onset, hence, reducing, if not, preventing legal matters from arising.
3. How does Answers-In-Law operate?
AIL has 2 tiers of law firms, Advising Law Firms (ALF) and Partner Law Firms (PLF).
ALF’s operation is similar to General Practitioners or Medical officers in the healthcare delivery system, and are the first points of contact for members requiring legal assistance. ALF will diagnose the matter and advise the member on the legal consequences faced, and provide the member with options to pursue to address their legal matter.
PLF’s operation is similar to that of Specialists or Surgeons in the healthcare delivery system. PLF undertakes the legal matters subsequent to the subscriber’s consultation with ALF above. PLF will work closely with the subscriber and initiate all necessary actions to address the subscriber’s legal matter.
4. How different is AIL from a legal service provider?
AIL does not directly provide legal services and neither does AIL employ legal professionals to provide any form of legal services to subscribers. Rather, AIL is a conduit that facilitates subscribers with access to experienced legal professionals (law firms registered with the Malaysian Bar), indemnifying the subscriber the cost of the initial legal services extended by legal professionals chosen by the subscriber themselves, under the plan subscribed.
5. Could you describe a typical phone consultation?
Subscribers are able to contact AIL via phone or log-in directly to AIL’s website. Then, they must state or select the legal matter that they require assistance with, and a list of law firms will be provided to them. They are required to select the law firm they want, and the selected law firm will contact them within 24 hours of the request.
6. Expatriates can consult lawyers directly instead of accessing AIL’s services. What is the difference?
AIL is able to provide expatriates access to law firms and their lawyers who are knowledgeable in the area of law that the expatriate requires assistance in. Furthermore, AIL is able to offer the individuals the option of consulting a lawyer in their preferred language (presently limited to English, Bahasa, Tamil and Mandarin) and also select a lawyer based on gender.
7. How are AIL’s panel of lawyers selected?
AIL’s panel consist of law firms registered with the Malaysian Bar, with the Managing Partners having a minimum of 8 years practising experience. AIL’s panel does not consist of individual lawyers, but rather law firms, in which they are required to undertake the necessary professional indemnity insurance etc.
8. Can expatriates subscribe to AIL’s services in their home country and start using the services?
AIL’s services are presently confined to Malaysia and is subject to the prevailing laws in Malaysia. Expatriates can subscribe to the services from their home country; however, the service can only be used for legal matters in Malaysia.
9. If an expatriate has already engaged a law firm, is there a need for the expatriate to sign up with AIL?
Individuals (including expatriates) typically engage a law firm to address a legal matter. If the matter has since been resolved, the relationship no longer exists. In the case of AIL, they typically work side-by-side with the individual throughout the year(s) of subscription, in which the individual could refer to them for all matters. They can consider AIL as part of the organisation albeit with a much smaller cost.
10. Empowering expatriates to make informed decisions. Can you elaborate on this?
The modus operandi of AIL is to empower individuals to have the means to access Legal Professionals at all times and for all matters in order for them to make informed decisions. Whether it is a financial, family, employment or related matters, Individuals would have the privilege of consulting a legal professional experienced in the area of law that the Individual require assistance with. This will place the individual in a better position when dealing with the relevant authorities and parties, further protecting the interest of the individual and family members.
11. What are the common issue(s) faced by expatriates requiring legal advisory?
Common issues faced by Expatriates include:
a. Employment & work related matters
b. Dealing with relevant authorities eg. Immigration
c. Landlord/Tenancy matters
d. Family matters including matters affecting Malaysian spouses
e. Matters affecting expatriate children’s education
f. Banking & Insurance matters
g. Vehicle ownership, leasing, maintenance matters, etc
12. What is the turnaround time for an expatriate to be in touch with a lawyer?
Depending on the plan subscribed, the maximum turnaround time is 24 hours, in which the law firm that the Expatriate selected will contact him/her within 24 hours of the request being made.
13. If an expatriate is already experiencing a lawsuit, how will AIL’s services address the issue?
Expatriates are able to consult a law firm that will be able to provide the individual with options to pursue the legal matter. The individual can then decide if they want to continue utilising their subscription to AIL to pursue with the matter. If they wish to do so, and, depending on the plan subscribed, the cost relating to the initial legal services relating to the subject matter, handled by a legal professional chosen by the individual, will be borne by AIL.
14. If expatriates can approach law firms directly, why do they need to subscribe to AIL’s services?
For a start, Expatriates would not know which law firm would be knowledgeable in the area of law that they require assistance. Furthermore, it would be prudent for the individual to get preliminary advice on their legal matter before deciding on their next course of action, including, but not limited, to approaching a law firm. In addition to this, if the individual were to approach the law firm directly, and, subsequent to the initial advice, decide not to proceed with the legal matter, they will already have incurred a cost. Multiply this by the number of times the individual face similar situations and the cost would be substantial. AIL aims to mitigate this by providing Expatriates access to legal professionals at all times and for all matters, at an affordable rate
15. AIL is equipped with advanced ICT. How this is beneficial to expatriates?
The ICT infrastructure deployed by AIL enables Expatriates to source, identify and request for legal professionals based on the following criteria:
a. Area of law
b. Location of law firm
c. Gender of lawyer
d. Preferred language (limited to English, Bahasa, Tamil & Mandarin)
…the above can be done by calling AIL’s customer service and/or requesting online
16. If an expatriate doesn’t use the services within a year, can they carry forward or will it lapse?
AIL’s services are limited to 12-months from the date of subscription. Unutilised services cannot be carried forward and will lapse at the end of the 2-months period.
17. Can AIL’s services be extended to expatriate’s family members/relatives residing in Malaysia?
Expatriates who signs up for AIL’s service can use the service to enquire any legal matter affecting an immediate family member. However, this is limited to phone consultation only, and the consultation will solely be with the member and not the affected family member. It would be better for the affected family member to sign up to enjoy the full services of AIL.
18. Do expatriates still need to pay legal fees after subscribing to AIL’s services?
AIL services are confined to initial legal services only. Many of the legal matters could be addressed within the benefits provided under the plan subscribed (Re. the initial legal services) hence, not requiring any additional charges. However, if the matter were to pursue beyond the initial legal services, a separate fee would be applicable depending on the matter in question. The expatriate would nevertheless be privy to the fee to be incurred, before deciding to pursue with the matter. The fee and discussions/negotiations pertaining to the same would be directly between the individual and the law firm that he/she has chosen, and will not involve AIL. Fee would likewise be paid directly to the chosen law firm and not AIL.
The questions and answers above should be more than sufficient for subscribers to be assured that Answers-In-Law is a reliable service providing legal help in Malaysia. Should you have more question, contact them at 1800-18-19-20 or [email protected]. You can also check out www.answersinlaw.com to learn more.
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