After the handover, the principle of “One Country, Two Systems” has been implemented in Hong Kong, under which Hong Kong’s legal system remains intact. The Courts of Hong Kong are celebrated for maintaining a strong English common law tradition, adhering to the rule of law. The judicial system continues to operate independently. The rule of law and judicial independence are the core values of Hong Kong and the cornerstone of Hong Kong's success, of which we are proud.
Hong Kong is a part of China and a cosmopolitan city. Mainland China and Hong Kong share a common language. Under the “Two Systems” principle, Hong Kong enjoys a common law system that is different from the legal system in the Mainland. Under the “One Country” principle, we need to know more about our native land, especially its history, culture, recent development and changes. On the other hand, we are also happy to explain Hong Kong’s rule of law and judicial system to the Mainland, to deepen understanding between the two, and to encourage cross-fertilisation and mutual learning.
The Standing Committee on Greater China Affairs under the Hong Kong Bar Association was established in 2000 and is responsible for promoting the Hong Kong Bar to Mainland China, Taiwan, and Macao, communicating with law-related professional institutions and judicial officials, and maintaining and promoting friendly relations with the profession in the region.
Each year, the Hong Kong Bar Association receives hundreds of Mainland officials, including many officials from the Ministry of Justice and prosecuting officials. The Basic Law has clearly defined the relationship between the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary, as well as their relationship inter se; there is therefore clear separation of powers. The Hong Kong Bar Association and the Mainland officials would compare and exchange views on the two legal systems, enhancing mutual understanding.
In addition, the Hong Kong Bar Association makes regular official visits to Beijing to exchange views with Mainland officials on matters that concern both Mainland China and Hong Kong. These exchanges have facilitated the development of the rule of law in the two places.
The Hong Kong Bar Association visits lawyers' associations in Mainland China from time to time to organise moot courts, lectures and seminars for the legal professionals in the Mainland. Through these exchanges, the Hong Kong Bar Association shares its experience in self-disciplining, Code of Conduct, and procedure for disciplinary penalty with our counterparts in the Mainland . It demonstrates the Bar's constant striving for perfection and promoting the spirit of the rule of law as a model for the legal industry in the Greater China.
The Hong Kong Bar Association has also entered into cooperative agreements with the lawyers’ associations in a number of provinces and cities, further facilitating the cooperation and business interaction with the Mainland legal profession.
In recent years, we have seen a growing number of lawyers' schools established by universities and provincial justice bureaus in the Mainland providing vocational training in advocacy, ethics, practice and law firm management for lawyers. Members of the Hong Kong Bar are invited to teach in the Mainland. The establishment of lawyers' schools evidences the professionalisation of Mainland China's legal industry.
In the past eight years, we have launched a "Common Law course" for undergraduate and postgraduate students at Peking University. The Hong Kong Bar Association has offered scholarships to outstanding students who have taken the course. The awardees were invited to come to Hong Kong to observe the daily work of barristers and to experience the operation of common law in Hong Kong. The purpose is to enhance Mainland law students’ understanding of the common law system in foreign jurisdictions and thereby facilitating Mainland China’s integration with overseas countries and enabling the Mainland to catch up with well-developed countries.
Following China's “One Belt, One Road” initiative, it will become a norm and an inevitable trend for Chinese enterprises to “go global” and "connect with the rest of the world".
A sound and stable judicial system is conducive to business development. The “going global” process often entails facing complex and unfamiliar business environment. It is essential that Chinese Enterprises should understand commercial law, contract law and international trade customs. With the benefit of having a system of law under which the requisite elements of a valid and enforceable contract are clearly stated so that the parties could perform their obligations in accordance with the terms of the contract, Hong Kong is well poised to serve as a platform for parties to resolve commercial disputes. This will greatly increase the parties' confidence in entering into agreements and complying with contractual terms.
The economic and trade development in the Mainland will add further impetus to the need for Chinese enterprises to have access to high-quality international legal services, especially services in relation to international arbitration and mediation. The Hong Kong Bar can provide professional legal services in commercial disputes involving foreign elements.
Hong Kong enjoys a unique competitive edge under the principle of “One Country, Two Systems”. Further, Hong Kong has a sound legal system and a large pool of legal professional talents. These advantages, coupled with the fact that Hong Kong is geographically convenient, make Hong Kong a neutral and ideal forum for arbitration.
In light of the above, the Hong Kong Bar Association established the Standing Committee on China Practice Development in July 2015. The Special Committee aims at promoting the provision of high-quality legal services by Hong Kong barristers to Chinese enterprises.
For your ease of reference, we have provided in this website the links to the websites of some relevant governmental departments and bodies in Mainland China.