Enforcement of civil and commercial judgments between Hong Kong and the Mainland

To pursue the objective of effective implementation of the "one country, two systems" principle, the Department of Justice has taken steps to develop mutual legal assistance between the Mainland and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) so that disputes with cross boundary elements could be dealt with more effectively.

Apart from the arrangement on mutual enforcement of arbitral awards signed in June 1999 pdf file format, in accordance with the provision of Article 95 of the Basic Law and through mutual consultation between the Supreme People's Court and the HKSAR Government, arrangement has been made in July 2006 for the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters pursuant to choice of court agreements made between the parties concerned (the "Choice of Court Arrangement"). Amendments to the Choice of Court Arrangement were made in February 2008 to reflect the new provisions in the amended Civil Procedure Law of the Mainland regarding the time limit for application for execution of judgments (by extending the time limit for an applicant to apply for recognition and enforcement of a judgment from one year (if one or both of the parties were natural persons) or six months (if both parties were legal persons or any other organizations) to a standardized period of two years).

The Choice of Court Arrangement pdf file formatcovers money judgments given by a designated court of either the Mainland or the HKSAR exercising its jurisdiction in business-to-business agreements where the parties concerned have agreed in writing to designate a people's court of the Mainland or a court of the HKSAR as the forum to have sole jurisdiction for resolving such disputes. Apart from specifying the scope of cases and level of courts covered, the Choice of Court Arrangement also provides for grounds for refusal of enforcement which are similar to common law rules and those stipulated under the Foreign Judgments (Reciprocal Enforcement) Ordinance (Cap.319). Moreover, special procedures which are generally in line with the requirements laid down by Hong Kong courts are provided in the Choice of Court Arrangement to address the common law requirements of finality for enforcement of money judgments. Please click herepdf file format for key features of the Choice of Court Arrangement

To give effect to the Choice of Court Arrangement, the Mainland Judgments (Reciprocal Enforcement) Ordinance (Cap. 597) was enacted in April 2008 and came into effect on 1 August 2008 whereas the Supreme People's Court has promulgated the relevant judicial interpretationpdf file format giving effect to the Choice of Court Arrangement in the Mainland.

The list of Primary People’s Courts pdf file formatauthorized to exercise jurisdiction of the first instance in civil and commercial cases involving foreign, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan parties has been updated by the Supreme People’s Court and incorporated into the Choice of Court Arrangement as an annex thereto. The updated list of recognized Primary People’s Courts was published by the Secretary for Justice in the Gazette on 14 December 2018 (G.N. 9195) pursuant to section 25(1) of the Mainland Judgments (Reciprocal Enforcement) Ordinance (Cap. 597).Please refer to G.N. 4289 for the list of recognized Primary People’s Courts published by the Secretary for Justice in the Gazette on 25 July 2014.pdf file format

The arrangement on reciprocal recognition and enforcement of civil judgments in matrimonial and family cases, the second arrangement in relation to the enforcement of civil and commercial judgments, was signed between the Supreme People's Court and the HKSAR Government on 20 June 2017 pdf file format. It aims to ensure that parties in the Mainland and the HKSAR can enforce relevant civil judgments in matrimonial and family cases through a clear and effective legal regime (see section on “Enforcement of civil judgments in matrimonial and family cases between Hong Kong and the Mainland”).

The Arrangement pdf file format (the “Arrangement”) on Reciprocal Recognition and Enforcement of Judgments in Civil and Commercial Matters by the Courts of the Mainland and of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region was signed between the Supreme People’s Court and the HKSAR Government on 18 January 2019. It is the sixth arrangement with the Mainland on mutual legal assistance in civil and commercial matters and the third arrangement providing for recognition and enforcement of judgments between Hong Kong and the Mainland in civil and commercial matters. It seeks to establish a bilateral legal mechanism with greater clarity and certainty for recognition and enforcement of judgments in wider range of civil and commercial matters between the two places.

The Arrangement applies to matters considered to be of a “civil and commercial” nature under both Hong Kong and Mainland law. Non-judicial proceedings and judicial proceedings relating to administrative or regulatory matters are excluded. The Arrangement covers both monetary and non-monetary relief. It also sets out jurisdictional grounds for the purpose of recognition and enforcement as well as grounds for refusal of recognition and enforcement. Please click here pdf file format for the key features of the Arrangement.

The Arrangement will be implemented by local legislation in Hong Kong. It will take effect after both places have completed the necessary procedures to enable implementation and will apply to judgments made on or after the commencement date.

The Arrangement will, upon its commencement, supersede the Choice of Court Arrangement. However, the Choice of Court Arrangement will continue to apply to a “choice of court agreement” in writing made between the parties before the commencement of the Arrangement.

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