Hosting important legal conferences to consolidate Hong Kong’s role as international hub

One of the major initiatives of the Department of Justice (DoJ) in the Policy Address is to develop Hong Kong as the centre for international legal and dispute resolution services in the Asia-Pacific region in order to fully complement national development. To this end, we have adopted a multi-pronged approach, seeking opportunities for local, the Mainland and international co-operations.

I am pleased to see that a number of important international legal events have already begun to take place in Hong Kong. It not only reflects the support of the Central People’s Government (CPG), but also showcases the fruitful results of DoJ’s efforts in promoting international legal co-operation and exchanges, as well as our determination in holding decision-making meetings in Hong Kong by international organisations.

A hybrid intersessional meeting of UNCITRAL Working Group III, co-organised by the DoJ, the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) and the Asian Academy of International Law (AAIL), was held in Hong Kong over the last two days to discuss reform plans for investment mediation, making it the first time for the UNCITRAL Working Group to meet in the city. Though the intersessional meeting has been delayed for a year as a result of the pandemic, a groundbreaking virtual pre-intersessional meeting was held in Hong Kong last year setting the directions on strengthening the use of mediation.

In fact, we have been at the forefront in Asia in partnering up with leading international institutions in offering Investment Law and Investor-State Mediator Training Course for government officials and legal as well as mediation practitioners around the world since 2018. The DoJ also co-organised with the AAIL the ISDS (investor-state dispute settlement) Reform Conference in 2019, contributing to the ISDS reform discussion and facilitating relevant policy-making in the Asia-Pacific region.

The intersessional meeting acknowledged the importance of participation in mediation involving international investment disputes. As a reference for the international community, Hong Kong and the Mainland signed the CEPA Investment Agreement which provides for promotion and protection of investments between the two jurisdictions. It is noteworthy that investment mediation is the mechanism for resolving investment disputes under the agreement which expressly sets out the details in its rules.

Following the intersessional meeting, another flagship event of the DoJ - Hong Kong Legal Week 2021 - will be held next week. Experts from legal, dispute resolution, deal-making, business and government sectors are going to bring informative and insightful discussions on various topics, ranging from new normal after the pandemic, international criminal law, maritime dispute resolution, cross-border dispute resolution, arbitration and mediation, as well as rule of law. Among the programmes, a workshop on online dispute resolution for ASEAN trade will be arranged to explore ways to settle cross-border disputes.

The Hong Kong Legal Week, which is held in the first week of November starting from 2019, is a not-to-be-missed opportunity for you to keep abreast of the latest legal developments. So, act fast and register now!

With CPG’s support, the DoJ also successfully secured the hosting of another important international meeting - the 59th Annual Session of Asian-African Legal Consultative Organization (AALCO) - in Hong Kong in form of hybrid from end of November during which important international law topics will be discussed.

Significant international meetings are conducive to the development of legal and dispute resolution sectors by providing them with a better understanding of prevailing international practices and broaden their international horizons. The DoJ will keep pursuing co-operation with international organisations and hosting important events in Hong Kong, with a view to consolidating our role as an international legal, deal-making and dispute resolution centre.

October 30, 2021