Legal Market Overview
Brunei has a stable economy. The government has continued to drive forward various initiatives to modernise the economy by investing in technology, tourism, banking and business services. It remains keen to promote public-private partnerships.
Until recently the country had not been as adversely affected by Covid as some other South-East Asian countries. However, in August 2021 due to a surge in the number of Covid infections, restrictions were put in place in the country. The travel restrictions meant that potential investors were not able to come into the country for business purposes. This has led to some projects and developments being put on hold. Due to the economic uncertainty as a result of the pandemic, some firms have also noticed increased instructions in restructuring work and in distressed financing.
However, Brunei remains an attractive country to invest in. Chinese investors, in particular, are still eyeing up the market. The country’s strategic position and abundant natural resources together with its foreign direct investment schemes and tax incentives provide plenty of investment opportunities for foreign entities. The country has retained its strong economic ties with Singapore and the Philippines.
Brunei has a legal system that is based on the British common law with a parallel Sharia law system for Muslims- this supersedes the common law system in areas such as family and property law. Local law firms are well-placed to provide a full service to international clients. There are number of international law firms that have been active in the market in recent years and are gaining a strong foothold in the market for their work on major projects and foreign investment issues. Eversheds Harry Elias LLP; Herbert Smith Freehills LLP and Ashurst LLP are among those that are currently well-regarded in the country.