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CE promotes legal services in Policy Address

The Chief Executive, Mrs Carrie Lam, released her Policy Address "Treasure Hong Kong: Our Home" on October 16, 2019.

The Policy Supplement - a new document this year - contains more details under the various policy areas including progress made, challenges and new initiatives.

On the legal aspect, the Government has made progress on:

The Judiciary
  • The Judiciary has established a central steering committee to oversee the implementation of the new High Court and District Court projects. The statutory rezoning procedures for the latter’s development site commenced in May 2019.
  • Introduced the Judicial Officers (Extension of Retirement Age) (Amendment) Bill 2019 into the Legislative Council (LegCo) in March 2019. The Second Reading debate of the Bill is expected to be resumed at the beginning of the 2019-20 legislative session.

Legal Aid
  • Since July 1, 2018, the work on formulating legal aid policy and housekeeping the Legal Aid Department was transferred from the Home Affairs Bureau to the Chief Secretary for Administration’s Office, thereby underlining the independence of the legal aid system.
  • Implemented a series of measures, including substantially increasing duty lawyer fees with effect from April 1, 2019, as well as opening an additional office for the Legal Advice Scheme for Unrepresented Litigants on Civil Procedures at Wanchai Tower, with a view to enhancing free legal advice services.

Legal Services
  • The Mediation Mechanism for Investment Disputes was established in accordance with the Investment Agreement signed under the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement framework. The lists of designated mediation institutions and mediators for the Mediation Mechanism as mutually agreed by the two sides were announced on December 14, 2018. Mediation rules drafted by the Department of Justice and adopted by designated mediation institutions and mediators in Hong Kong were also published.

New initiatives include:

Legal Services
  • Explore the feasibility of establishing a regional arbitration centre of the Asian-African Legal Consultative Organisation (AALCO) in Hong Kong.
  • Explore the possibility of hosting the 59th Annual Session of AALCO in 2020 and inviting international legal bodies such as the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) to host inter-sessional meetings in Hong Kong.
  • Plan to consult the public on a mechanism with the Mainland for mutual recognition of and assistance in corporate insolvency matters, so as to offer better legal protection to stakeholders in Hong Kong and on the Mainland and further optimise the business and investment environment of both places.
  • Provide training and support for Hong Kong legal talent to participate in international organisations, including international legal bodies such as the Hague Conference on Private International Law and UNCITRAL, and encourage and support local legal talent to take up leading positions in international organisations which Hong Kong participates as a member such as taking up the position of Chair of the Economic Committee of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation.
  • Launch a Pilot Professional Exchange Programme to facilitate cross-fertilisation of knowledge and experience among lawyers in the private sector and the Government to enhance mutual understanding, co-operation and collaboration, with a view to widening the experiences and horizons of the industry and consolidating Hong Kong’s status as a legal hub, a leading centre for international legal and dispute resolution services in the Asia-Pacific region and a legal platform for deal-making and dispute resolution.
  • Discuss with the Hague Academy of International Law the proposal to organise annual capacity building courses in Hong Kong for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and the neighbouring jurisdictions, and actively explore collaboration opportunities with international bodies to promote rule-based trading system, such as co-organising a conference on the 40th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods with the UNCITRAL, and to enhance the promotion of the rule of law and anti-corruption education in the neighbouring regions. We also propose to conclude a cooperation arrangement with the Ministry of Commerce and the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council for establishing a permanent communication platform between Mainland enterprises and the Hong Kong legal profession.
  • Launch an initiative in 2020, namely, “Vision 2030 for Rule of Law” for the promotion and education of the rule of law. As a long term commitment towards 2030, a dedicated inclusive platform will be established for stakeholders, including youth, practitioners and experts, to take forward the initiative through academic and professional exchanges, research, capacity building and activities to promote and reinforce the rule of law.

Legal Aid
  • Propose to increase the financial eligibility limit (FEL) of the Ordinary Legal Aid Scheme by about 30%, i.e. from the current level of $307,130 to $400,000; and increase the FEL of the Supplementary Legal Aid Scheme by about 30%, i.e. from the current level of $1,535,650 to $2,000,000.

Policy Address Website