But Bar Council chairman Christopher Leong said legal assistance would be provided without charge as per its normal practice under the Legal Aid Scheme.
"The Bar Council Legal Aid team will be able to render preliminary legal advice to the family members of those onboard the plane if they require it," he told The Malaysian Insider.
Leong said legal advice would include issues pertaining to insurance, liability, procedure, possible causes of action and limitation period.
"If and when the families are ready to commence legal action, they will have to obtain the services of a legal firm which is prepared to take their case.
"The assistance by the Bar Council Legal Aid team will not include the filing of a civil suit or representing them," he added.
Leong said the availability of the council’s legal services would be conveyed to acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein and the Chinese embassy so that the information could be relayed to the families.
Leong also said the Bar Council would act against American law firms if reports about them offering their services in Malaysia were true as it was illegal for them to provide any kind of service in Malaysia, including legal advice.
The foreigners would have violated Malaysian laws, including the Legal Profession Act, he said.
Last month, a Chicago-based firm reportedly sought to represent aggrieved families from China and Malaysia.
Last Saturday, a Houston-based law firm attempted to meet families at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur but the meeting cancelled at the last minute with no reason provided.
An advertisement calling on families to attend the meeting had earlier appeared in a local daily.
Leong pointed out Malaysia had laws against touting and the Bar Council would be looking into the conduct of these foreign firms.
The Malaysia Airlines jetliner left the KL International Airport bound for Beijing at 12.41am on March 8 but disappeared from radar about an hour later while over the South China Sea.
A total of 154 of the passengers were Chinese nationals and 50, including the crew, were Malaysians while the rest were from 13 other countries.
A multinational search for the Boeing 777-200 (9M-MRO) aircraft is ongoing in the southern Indian Ocean following satellite data revealing that the plane’s last position was in the middle of the Indian Ocean, west of Perth, Australia,
Meanwhile, family and estate lawyer Jane Tai said the Montreal Convention, estate administration and probate issues would be relevant when the families obtained legal advice.
"One does not need to wait for seven years to obtain a death certificate," she said.
Tai said as long as there was credible evidence that someone who was missing would in all probability not be located again, then an application to court may be made.
She said the seven-year rule was only a presumption in a dispute whether a person was dead.
Tai said the government could also conduct an inquiry into missing persons like what was done when the lightning arrestor on top of Menara Umno in Penang toppled in June last, killing two people.
An inquest was held to investigate the circumstances of the death of one of the two people killed, whose body was never found.
"The Registrar of Births and Deaths must take into account the decision of a coroner in the inquiry," she added. – April 21, 2014.