Good news for small and medium-sized law firms

Earlier this year, I signed a Record of Meeting with the Minister of Justice, Mr Fu Zhenghua, during his visit to Hong Kong. I am pleased to learn that some of the liberalisation measures in respect of legal services in the Mainland have been implemented. The Department of Justice of Guangdong Province announced the "Trial Measures of the Department of Justice of Guangdong Province on Hong Kong Law Firms and Macao Law Firms Operating in the Form of Partnership Association with Mainland Law Firms in Guangdong Province (2019 Revision)”. The Trial Measures have been implemented on August 1 and will last for three years.

The notable measures include the removal of the minimum capital injection ratio of 30 per cent by Hong Kong partner firms in the partnership associations set up in the Guangdong Province, legal practitioners from Hong Kong, Macao and Mainland can be employed in the name of the partnership associations, partnership associations may handle and undertake administrative procedure legal work and years of establishment, work performance and other qualifications of both the Hong Kong and Mainland partner law firms can be counted towards the qualification of the Mainland business of the partnership associations. These measures provide flexibility in the setting up of and employment by partnership associations.

Hong Kong’s legal and dispute resolution services are highly regarded. Our legal professionals are experienced in various specialised areas of law. The Trial Measures encourage more partnership associations to be set up by Mainland and Hong Kong law firms, especially by small and medium-sized law firms, to provide one-stop shop of cross-jurisdictional legal services. This will bring more opportunities for the legal sector in the Greater Bay Area.

My colleagues and I will continue to maintain close contacts with the Ministry of Justice and other departments with a view to early implementation of other liberalisation measures.

Lastly, I would like to express my gratitude to my colleagues for their devotion in the discussions with the Mainland authorities to implement the measures. Also, my heartfelt thanks to the Law Society of Hong Kong and representatives from the local small and medium-sized law firms for their valuable opinions in making the measures more effective and responsive to the needs of the legal sector.

August 1, 2019