GBA exam creates opportunities for Hong Kong legal sector

I am delighted to learn that the inaugural Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA) Legal Professional Examination (GBA Exam) was held successfully in Hong Kong today. I am truly grateful to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) for its policy on implementing the GBA Exam and related training, and its dedicated efforts all along.

The GBA Exam originally scheduled to be held earlier this year was postponed due to the pandemic. The MoJ then decided to set up new examination venues in Hong Kong in addition to those in Shenzhen and Zhuhai, and signed a memorandum of understanding with the Department of Justice (DoJ) for the DoJ to co-ordinate with the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority to handle examination-related work. Such arrangement has brought great convenience to Hong Kong candidates.

Thanks to the MoJ's staunch support all along, the GBA Exam was set up in response to the suggestions and aspirations of the Hong Kong legal sector. It will no doubt provide an extensive arena for the sector's development in the Mainland. Relevant pre-examination legal training was organised by the MoJ for candidates sitting the GBA Exam. For those who have passed the GBA Exam, practical training courses on Mainland laws, to be arranged by the DoJ in co-operation with Mainland organs like the Supreme People's Court, will be provided to enhance their practical knowledge on Mainland courts' handling of different areas of civil and commercial matters.

The GBA Exam is a liberalisation measure under the CEPA. After passing the examination and obtaining the relevant practice certificate, Hong Kong legal practitioners, including solicitors and barristers, with accumulated legal practice experience of five years or above, are allowed to provide legal services in the nine Mainland municipalities in the GBA on specified civil and commercial matters (including litigation and non-litigation matters) to which the Mainland laws apply. They will also enjoy the same privileges and under the same obligations as Mainland lawyers. In the nine Mainland municipalities in the GBA, they can be retained by Mainland law firms and partnership associations of Mainland law firms and Hong Kong or Macao law firms, and can become partners of Mainland law firms.

The GBA Exam not only offers significant opportunities and practical experience for the Hong Kong legal sector in the GBA, but also provides clients in the GBA (including wholly-owned Hong Kong enterprises) Hong Kong and Mainland legal services and safeguards, which are conducive to the enhancement of legal services and the building of rule of law environment in the GBA, thereby promoting closer integration of legal services in the area to attract more investments. The GBA Exam has also laid a foundation on co-operation channels in the future and deepened the exchanges between the legal sectors of both places, thereby achieving the goal of mutual benefits.

If the results of the GBA Exam are satisfactory, I hope that the coverage of the Exam will be further extended.

Once again I would like to express my wholehearted thanks to the MoJ for creating opportunities for the Hong Kong legal profession. I hope that very soon our legal practitioners will have better developments in the Mainland, and at the same time, they will contribute to the building of rule of law for our country.

July 31, 2021