Hong Kong’s robust legal services sector includes more than 10,000 practising solicitors and about 1,500 practising barristers, of which 106 are Senior Counsel, as well as around 1,600 registered foreign lawyers from 32 jurisdictions. Many major international law firms have offices in Hong Kong.
As a global trade, finance and business hub, Hong Kong has a wealth of legal expertise in areas such as banking and finance, shipping, maritime, construction, intellectual property, and information technology.
International legal professionals bring with them additional experience in the areas of civil and commercial law, complementing the existing talent pool of local legal professionals with expertise in raising capital, drafting and negotiating contracts, and advising on intellectual property rights protection in Hong Kong.
They also bring international perspective and experience in handling international transactions so that commercial disputes can be dealt with fairly and effectively.
The Hong Kong Bar Association and the Law Society of Hong Kong are the two major legal representative bodies of the legal profession in Hong Kong.
TO THE MAINLAND
Close and long-standing links between the legal sectors of Hong Kong and the Mainland have helped develop business opportunities since the opening up and reform of China’s markets.
The Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) – a free trade pact – between Hong Kong and the Mainland provides enhanced and first-moved advantage for Hong Kong law firms into the Mainland market.
Many of the market access measures are piloted in adjoining Guangdong Province, which has long been a test-bed for economic reform in the Mainland.
For example, under CEPA:
- Hong Kong and Mainland law firms may be established in the form of a partnership association
- Mainland legal firms may employ Hong Kong legal practitioners for certain kinds of legal work
- Hong Kong legal practitioners meeting certain requirements can apply to practise as lawyers in the Mainland
A number of reputable international and regional organisations specialising in legal or dispute resolution services have set up offices in Hong Kong. They include the Asia Pacific Regional Office of the Hague Conference on Private International Law, the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution Asia Pacific Limited, the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (jointly operating the Mainland-Hong Kong Joint Mediation Center with the Hong Kong Mediation Centre), the China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission Hong Kong Arbitration Center, the China Maritime Arbitration Commission Hong Kong Arbitration Center, the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre as well as the Secretariat of the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce Asia Office.
Reflecting the government’s emphasis on the rule of law and legal services in Hong Kong, a prime site in the heart of the city has been set aside to accommodate offices of the Department of Justice alongside local, regional and international law-related organisations (LROs). Part of the West Wing of the former Central Government Offices (now renamed as Justice Place) and the nearby heritage-listed French Mission Building (which previously housed the Court of Final Appeal), are being converted into space for LROs. Together with offices of the Department of Justice in the Main Wing, the East Wing and part of the West Wing of the Justice Place, the whole area will form a Legal Hub. With these LROs moving into the new offices in the legal hub, the synergy and operational efficiency of the legal services sector will be enhanced, and Hong Kong’s position as a centre for dispute resolution and legal services in the Asia-Pacific Region will be further consolidated.
LROs and the major international law organisations and dispute resolution bodies in Hong Kong include:
- Asian Academy of International Law (AAIL)
- Asia Pacific Regional Office of the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH)
- CEDR (Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution) Asia Pacific Limited
- Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb) (East Asia Branch)
- China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission Hong Kong Arbitration Center (CIETAC – HK Arbitration Center)
- Hong Kong Maritime Arbitration Group (HKMAG)
- Hong Kong Mediation Accreditation Association Limited (HKMAAL)
- Hong Kong Mediation Centre (HKMC)
- International Advocacy Training Council Limited
- Joint Mediation Helpline Office (JMHO)
- Secretariat of the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce Asia Office (ICC – ICA)
- Vis East Moot Foundation Limited (Vis East Moot)