The Department's Links with Other Jurisdictions


Hong Kong's legal system has the same roots and applies many of the same principles as other common law systems around the world. Just as lawyers in Hong Kong refer to case law from jurisdictions from Singapore to South Africa, so decisions of Hong Kong's courts can assist lawyers researching overseas.

Since 1997, Hong Kong's status as a Special Administrative Region of the PRC has meant that, in addition to continuing to foster strong links with the common law world, mutual understanding with the Mainland of our two legal systems is also important.

The sharing of experience with lawyers in other jurisdictions plays an important role in legal life, a fact reflected in the composition of Hong Kong's Court of Final Appeal, which at every full hearing has included one judge from another common law jurisdiction.


Visits


The Secretary for Justice, Wong Yan Lung, SC (left), shakes hands with the Master Treasurer of Middle Temple, Robert Seabrook, QC, at the Call Ceremony of Middle Temple. Mr Wong was elected as a Master of the Bench of Middle Temple (October 2007).
The Secretary for Justice and the Law Officers regularly meet visitors from the Mainland and overseas, both lawyers and non-lawyers. The Secretary for Justice personally met 31 visitors or delegations from overseas and 27 from the Mainland during 2006 and 2007. These visitors included judges from the Supreme People's Court of the PRC, the Higher People's Court of Guangdong and the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea, public prosecutors from the Mainland and from Australia, Denmark, England and Malaysia, legislators from Germany, Japan, Korea, the United Kingdom and the USA, and counterparts from the Department of Treaties and Law of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the PRC and various Bureaus and Departments of Justice from the Mainland. Other visitors received by the Secretary for Justice included the President and Secretary-General of the International Association of Prosecutors, the Chairman of the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce, the Chairman of the Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce, the Chairman of the Bar Council of England and Wales, the President of the San Francisco Bar Association, the Minister of Justice of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and the then Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs and Lord Chancellor of the United Kingdom.

Members of the department gave briefings on Hong Kong's legal system to many distinguished visitors from the Mainland and overseas, including lawyers, legislators, journalists and consular officials.

The Secretary for Justice and the Law Officers themselves from time to time visit their counterparts or undertake duties in other jurisdictions. For instance, in April 2006 and September 2007, the Secretary for Justice met officials from the Ministry of Justice, the Supreme People's Court, the Basic Law Committee of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress and other departments in Beijing to discuss measures to further enhance legal services co-operation between Hong Kong and the Mainland. During 2006 and 2007, the Secretary for Justice visited Dublin, Helsinki, London, New York, San Francisco, Stockholm and Washington DC, meeting senior government officials, legal practitioners and important contacts in each jurisdiction. In March 2006, the Solicitor General was a member of Hong Kong's delegation at the United Nations Human Rights Committee's hearing of Hong Kong's report under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.




Conferences and seminars in the Mainland and overseas


The Secretary for Justice, Wong Yan Lung, SC (left), meets the President and Chief Justice of the Supreme People's Court, Xiao Yang, in Beijing (April 2006).
The Secretary for Justice and the Law Officers also regularly attend conferences and seminars in the Mainland or overseas to keep abreast of legal developments and law reform in other jurisdictions and to learn from the experience of others.

In April 2007, the Secretary for Justice and the Director of Public Prosecutions attended the 4th China-ASEAN Prosecutors-General Conference in Macao. In September 2007, the Secretary for Justice attended the 7th Chinese Lawyers' Forum in Ningxia.

In 2006 and 2007, the Director of Public Prosecutions attended a number of important international conferences, including the 1st conference of the International Association of Anti-Corruption Authorities in Beijing and the 11th Annual Conference of the International Association of Prosecutors in Paris.


The Law Officer (Civil Law), Benedict Lai (second from right), was a speaker at the 20th Biennial LawAsia Conference (June 2007). (Photo reproduced by courtesy of LawAsia/The Law Society of Hong Kong).
Other major international conferences attended by counsel of the department during 2006 and 2007 included the 11th and 12th Annual Conferences of the International Association of Prosecutors in Paris and Hong Kong respectively, the 20th Biennial LawAsia Conference in Hong Kong, the 2006 and 2007 International Bar Association Conferences in Chicago and Singapore respectively, the 3rd and 4th Asia and Pacific Regional Conferences of the International Association of Prosecutors in Macao and Kuala Lumpur respectively, the 11th World Conference of the Asia Crime Prevention Foundation in Jakarta, the 15th Commonwealth Law Conference in Nairobi, and the International Forfeiture Cooperation Conference in Davos.

During 2006 and 2007, counsel also attended a range of workshops and training seminars overseas. Subjects covered included dispute settlement, advanced loan documentation, public-private partnerships and economic crime. In September 2007, the Acting Law Draftsman and Acting Deputy Law Draftsman attended the Commonwealth Association of Legislative Counsel Conference in Nairobi. These various opportunities enable the department to benefit from the experience of other jurisdictions.




Day-to-day links with other jurisdictions


The Secretary for Justice, Wong Yan Lung, SC (right), meets the Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor of the United Kingdom, the Rt Hon Jack Straw, MP, during his visit to London (October 2007).
While the majority of lawyers in the department have completed their legal qualifications in Hong Kong, some have qualified in overseas jurisdictions, including Australia, England and New Zealand. In addition to this in-house experience of other jurisdictions, every counsel has online access to the wealth of legal resources from around the world available via the internet. Email communication enables counsel to communicate with lawyers in other jurisdictions quickly and efficiently. The department receives on a regular reciprocal basis reports and papers from law reform agencies and other legal bodies around the world. The department also makes use of the Commonwealth Legal Advisory Service when researching aspects of comparative law, in addition to the regular contacts which members of the department maintain with their counterparts overseas.