This article is an English translation of Dapatkah Advokat Asing Mendirikan Kantor Hukum di Indonesia? which was written by Dian Dwi Jayanti, S.H. and was published on Monday, 30 January 2023.
This article below is the second update of the article entitled Can Foreign Legal Consultants Establish Law Offices/ Law Firms in Indonesia? (Dapatkah Konsultan Hukum Asing Mendirikan Kantor Hukum di Indonesia?) which was first written by Bimo Prasetio, S.H. & Pamela Permatasari, S.H. and first published on Monday, 19 August 2013, and was first updated on Wednesday, 28 October 2020 by Erizka Permatasari, S.H.
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In order to answer your question, we will adjust the terms used in the laws and regulations, among others, by referring to legal consultants as advocates, and law firms as advocate/ law offices.
Provisions for Foreign Advocates in Indonesia
Before discussing foreign advocates, we should first address the requirements of becoming an advocate in Indonesia. According to Article 1 Number 1 Law Number 18 of 2003 on Advocates (“Law 18/2003”), an advocate is a person who provides legal services, both in and out of the court, and who meets the requirements.
Legal services provided by advocates are in the form of legal consultations, legal assistance, exercising power of attorney, representing, accompanying, defending, and taking other legal actions for the legal interests of clients.
In order to become an advocate, a person must have a bachelor's degree with a high education background in law and have attended Advocate Profession Special Education Program (Pendidikan Khusus Profesi Advokat/ "PKPA"), which is organized by an advocate organization in cooperation with law universities (high educations) or law schools whose accredited at least B.
Meanwhile, foreign advocates are foreign advocates who carry out their professions in the territory of the Republic of Indonesia based on the requirements of laws and regulations.
Article 23 Section (2) Law 18/2003 and Article 2 Section (1) Regulation of the Ministry of Law and Human Rights Number 26 of 2017 on Requirements and Procedures to Employ Foreign Advocates and Obligations for the Provision of Pro-Bono Services to the Legal Education and Research Sector (“Regulation 26/2017”) allow foreign advocates to work as employees or experts in the field of foreign law in Indonesian advocate offices.
The foreign law sector in question is the law of the country of origin or international law in the fields of business and arbitration as well as out-of-court dispute settlement.
In order to employ foreign advocates, several provisions must be considered, namely:
- The advocate office concerned must submit an approval for the employment of foreign advocates to the Minister of Law and Human Rights;
- Foreign advocates are required to obtain work permits from the Minister of Manpower;
- The number of foreign advocates who may be employed in an advocate office is determined based on the total number of Indonesian advocates working in the said office with a ratio of 4 Indonesian advocates to 1 foreign advocate, provided that there are a maximum of 5 foreign advocates for each advocate office. However, if there are only 3 Indonesian advocates in an advocate office, then the office may be given the opportunity to employ 1 foreign advocate;
- Foreign advocates are required to provide free legal services to the sector of legal education and research, or to government agencies;
- Foreign advocates are prohibited from speaking in court, practicing, and/or establishing legal service offices or their representatives in Indonesia.
However, in relation to provision number 1 above, it should also be noted that the provision of Article 81 Number 4 Regulation of the Government in Lieu of Law Number 2 of 2022 on Job Creation (“Regulation of the Government in Lieu of Law 2/2022”) that amended the provisions of Article 42 Section (1) Law Number 13 of 2003 on Manpower (“Law 13/2003”) states that:
Every Employer that employs Foreign Employees is required to have a Foreign Workers' Employment plan, approved by the Central Government.
Can Foreign Advocates Establish Law Offices in Indonesia?
As stipulated in Article 23 Section (1) Law 13/2003 and Article 19 Section (1) Regulation 26/2017, foreign advocates are prohibited from speaking in court, practicing, and/or establishing legal services offices or their representatives in Indonesia.
In response to your question, it is clear that based on the abovementioned provisions, foreign advocates cannot establish legal services offices/advocate offices in Indonesia.
Therefore, the establishment of an advocate office in any form is not permitted in Indonesia if it is established by a foreign advocate, as well as the representative office.
Then, based on the information you have provided, it has been discovered that one of the foreign advocates in question has an employee who is licensed as an Indonesian advocate. The alternative that could be taken is for the Indonesian advocate to establish a law office first, then the foreign advocates may work in the Indonesian law office. Therefore, foreign advocates may join the Indonesian law office, while still subject to the provisions which we have outlined previously.
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These are the answers we can provide, we hope you will find them useful.
- Law Number 18 of 2003 on Advocates;
- Law Number 13 of 2003 on Manpower;
- Regulation of the Government in Lieu of Law Number 2 of 2022 on Job Creation;
- Regulation of the Ministry of Law and Human Rights Number 26 of 2017 on Requirements and Procedures to Employ Foreign Advocates and Obligations for the Provision of Pro-Bono Services to the Legal Education and Research Sector.
Constitutional Court Decision Number 95/PUU-XIV/2016.
 Article 1 Number 2 Law Number 18 of 2003 on Advocates (“Law 18/2003”).
 Article 2 Section (1) Law 18/2003 jo. Constitutional Court Decision Number 95/PUU-XIV/2016 (p. 43).
 Article 1 Number 8 Law 18/2003.
 Article 2 Section (2) Regulation of the Ministry of Law and Human Rights Number 26 of 2017 on Requirements and Procedures to Employ Foreign Advocates and Obligations for the Provision of Pro-Bono Services to the Legal Education and Research Sector (“Regulation 26/2017”).
 Article 4 Section (2) Regulation 26/2017.
 Article 4 Section (1) Regulation 26/2017.
 Article 3 Regulation 26/2017.
 Article 17 Section (1) and (2) Regulation 26/2017.
 Article 23 Section (1) Law 18/2003.