Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen,
- Access to justice is one of the important elements of the
rule of law. It strives to provide affordable and efficient system that
allows justice to be accessed and to be administered. It is very
important that we have this system that would allow the rule of law
to be upheld and for all of us to be able to resolve our disputes in a
fair and impartial manner.
- In recent two decades, with the rapid development and
popularization of technology, IT has been an integral part of our
social economic and legal life. I believe when I was still in private
practice, I have been already using the real-time transcript computers
and using the iPad to do cross-examination and maybe two or three screens with the documentation that are provided. I hope this would
become more and more of practice in the legal sector in Hong Kong
very soon. I think with the participation and enthusiasm that is shown
around the room, I see that would be coming very shortly.
- In 2015, the International Telecommunication Union
predicted that 3.2 billion people, that is about half of the global
population, will be online by the end of that year. Obviously, IT
offers great potential for innovative ways to enhance access to justice.
In this regard, I would like to share with you a few major activities
taken by Hong Kong to facilitate access to justice through the use
of information technology.
- The Department of Justice (DoJ) is committed to
providing an updated, reliable and searchable online consolidated
legislation database with legal status. In the past, the only source
of consolidated legislation is the hard copy loose-leaf edition of the
Laws of Hong Kong. Whilst we have made the legislation
available electronically on the Bilingual Laws Information System, which I am sure you all have access to, it is more for information
only and does not have any legal effect. Last year, we launched a
new electronic legislation database, namely, the Hong Kong
e-Legislation (HKeL), to provide a convenient and free public
access to the bilingual versions of the Laws of Hong Kong with
- Hong Kong e-Legislation has provided improved
functionality for users to advance viewing and searching functions.
In addition to the desktop model, there’s also a mobile version
available to reflect the trend of users for viewing and for searching. I
am sure you would all appreciate that no one really sits so much at
the desktop, but perhaps to actually use the mobile device.
- Under the Legislation Publication Ordinance, verified
legislation on HKeL, given legal status, it would transform access to
legislation by replacing the bilingual information system that we
- I would like to look over and over to see Hong Kong and
look beyond. At the international level, Hong Kong has tried also to
participate in InnoTech Law in this way. We have been actively
participating in the discussion and promotion of a Work Plan
endorsed by the APEC Economic Committee for developing a
framework for online dispute resolution of cross border business to
business (B2B) disputes involving Micro, Small and Medium
Enterprises (MSMEs). Expansion into international markets is
crucial for MSMEs, as they have called, and one of the biggest
hurdles for them is the access to justice in cross border transactions.
A recent APEC study found that dispute resolution was one of the
greatest challenges for MSMEs when trading across borders where
83% reporting that efficient and consistent dispute resolution was a
problem1 , and hence the need for looking at online dispute
resolution. In this regard, the Work Plan includes building a pilot
scheme that would, no doubt, be partnering with various hosts that
will put the system into use.
- In the meantime, I am very happy also to say, that the
private sector domestically in Hong Kong has also been striving to
set up an online resolution platform called “eBRAM.hk”. This is to
provide a full eArbitration and eMediation services cloud
technology and the information technology that is being adopted.
Through the particular platform, services will be provided for users,
arbitrators and mediators from Belt and Road jurisdictions and
beyond to resolve disputes.
- Hong Kong, we hope, through the launching of online
resolution system, will put ourselves to the next level in the
provision of international legal service as well as dispute resolution
service. The Judiciary also, as you may know, is embarking on a
very important project called the e-submission, which also looks at
how to use IT to enhance and provide affordable and efficient access
to justice in the courts. That system under the e-submission project
is being undertaken right now. No doubt we will be able to take on
board to use and develop something that will be very useful for the
legal system in Hong Kong.
- Ladies and Gentlemen, utilization of legal technology is
still, we may say, rather a nascent stage in some places but it has full
potential. And it’s important that we explore those potential to meet
the access to justice. Some may even say that AI very soon will be
replacing lawyers. Some AI technology I know is being used in the
development of certain video recording system, to allow efficient
provision of justice in courts in some places or in arbitration. I think
needless to say, the issue that could arise will be important but no
doubt also very important that we must not allow problems to stop
us from developing in this particular area. With heightened
awareness and engagement from the public and with the
participation of the competitors here, I am confident and I believe
that technology will very soon become an inevitable and
indispensable tool that will advance the legal and dispute resolution
services in providing affordable and efficient access to justice in
- If I may again, thank you very much for all of you, for
your attention and in particular to thank all the supporters and
organisers in putting this event together.
- Thank you very much.
ABAC, USC Marshall, Driving Economic Growth Through Cross-Border E-Commerce in APEC:
Empowering MSMEs and Eliminating Barriers at 35, 69 , 81 (APEC interviews with 506 business
executives plus 244 survey responses).