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Hong Kong Legal Week 2022 successfully concluded today as the annual flagship event of the Department of Justice. Internationally renowned legal experts and academics from the Mainland, Hong Kong and overseas gathered during Legal Week to have in-depth discussions on a wide range of topics, attracting around 8,200 participants from 40 jurisdictions registered for on-site or online participation. The event demonstrated Hong Kong's close connection with the world while the city has fully leveraged the unique advantages of its common law system under “one country, two systems”, consolidating its leading status as the international legal and dispute resolution services centre in the Asia Pacific region. There were a total of 27 overseas speakers and guests coming from the “three sisters” of private international law - the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law (UNIDROIT), the Hague Conference on Private International Law and the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law - as well as Japan, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and more, attending Hong Kong Legal Week 2022 in person this year. The Rule of Law Congress: Rule of Law & Justice for All was held today as the finale of Hong Kong Legal Week. Chief Executive John Lee, Chief Justice Andrew Cheung and Secretary for Justice Paul Lam delivered their remarks at the opening session. In his keynote speech, Secretary-General of the UNIDROIT Prof Ignacio Tirado talked about the rule of law for sustainable development. The Rule of Law Congress and Hong Kong Legal Week 2022 came to an end after Deputy Secretary for Justice Cheung Kwok-kwan delivered his closing remarks. Click here for an overview of the events.
Building on the success of Phase 1 of the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Workshop on online dispute resolution (ODR) last year, we are organising Phase 2 of the workshop this year with the theme “ODR in Facilitating Cross-border Trade & Investment for ASEAN & Hong Kong Businesses”. With the relaxation of travel restrictions in Hong Kong, we are glad that we have representatives from ASEAN member states, ASEAN Secretariat Secretary-General Lim Jock Hoi and guests joining us physically in Hong Kong today. Growth of trade between ASEAN and Hong Kong ASEAN has been one of the major trading partners of Hong Kong. Since the ASEAN-Hong Kong, China Free Trade Agreement and related investment agreement have fully entered into force in February last year, the already very close economic co-operation between us has been further strengthened. In 2021, ASEAN was Hong Kong’s second largest trading partner. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, merchandise trade between Hong Kong and ASEAN last year increased by 21%, reaching a total value of $1,247 billion. Besides, ASEAN was Hong Kong’s second largest supplier of goods last year. About 17% of Hong Kong’s total imports, more than $900 billion, were sourced from ASEAN. In investment, ASEAN ranked fourth among Hong Kong destinations for outward direct investment, and sixth in inward direct investment at the end of 2020. In particular, over the past few years, e-commerce has expanded remarkably, both within and across the border. The rapid growth of e-commerce has given micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) plenty of opportunities to expand their business. It is foreseeable that e-commerce and the digital economy will continue to grow and play an important role in the post-pandemic recovery and regional integration. Importance of ODR for businesses With the increase in cross-border trade and investment, it is inevitable that disputes may arise from time to time. In particular, the disruption of the global supply chain caused by the pandemic has given rise to quite a number of cross-border disputes in the past couple of years. An effective means of dispute resolution has become more crucial than ever for cross-border trade and investment. When we are on a steady track to recovery from the pandemic, disputes arising from supply chain disruption continue to linger and daunt businesses, especially the MSMEs. In ASEAN, there are about 70 million MSMEs, accounting for over 97% of total establishments in ASEAN member states. In order to maintain good cash flow, MSMEs are in desperate need of speedy and cost-efficient means to resolve their disputes. Meanwhile, there has also been an increasing demand for effective mechanisms to resolve disputes involving online cross-border transactions. Owing to the unique nature of these cross-border disputes, it is not geographically or financially feasible or practicable for MSMEs to have these disputes resolved through traditional court litigations or in-person alternative dispute resolution mechanisms. With the help of information and communications technology (ICT), ODR provides a cost-effective and efficient solution to cross-border disputes. As noted in the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Technical Notes on ODR, ODR “can assist the parties in resolving the dispute in a simple, fast, flexible and secure manner, without the need for physical presence at a meeting or hearing.” Through ODR, individuals and MSMEs can utilise technologies in a full spectrum of dispute resolution services conveniently and expeditiously, enhancing their accessibility to justice. With the quick electronic resolution and enforcement of disputes across borders, bridging barriers of different languages and legal jurisdictions, ODR can also provide more confidence for MSMEs to engage in cross-border transactions. Furthermore, by saving MSMEs’ time and resources in resolving disputes, they can focus on exploring new business opportunities and expanding their markets. And therefore, ODR is conducive to regional economic growth and development in general. Recent developments of ODR in Asia Pacific In recent times, ODR has been widely used in various contexts and promoted regionally and internationally. We can see businesses using ODR as part of their customer services to handle complaints. Courts from different jurisdictions are also exploring how to implement ODR as part of the judicial process to further enhance access to justice. This year, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) launched the APEC Collaborative Framework for ODR of Cross-Border Business-to-Business Disputes (APEC ODR Framework) and a number of ODR service providers have already been listed under this framework. In addition to the development under APEC, the ASEAN Committee on Consumer Protection launched the ASEAN Guidelines on ODR in April this year as one of the deliverables of the ASEAN Strategic Action Plan on Consumer Protection 2025. The ASEAN guidelines aim to assist ASEAN member states in setting up or improving their national ODR systems to help resolve e-commerce transactions, as well as suggest proper design and management of an ODR system. With regional and international collaborations, as well as the joint efforts across the governmental sector, the business sector, the dispute resolution sector and ICT sector, ODR is developing rapidly. Hong Kong and ODR In light of all these developments, Hong Kong has been taking active steps to promote and contribute to the development of ODR in this region and beyond. Hong Kong, China, has opted into the APEC ODR Framework since 2020. The Electronic Business Related Arbitration & Mediation (eBRAM) Centre in Hong Kong is one of the listed ODR service providers under the APEC ODR Framework, providing comprehensive ODR services equipped with advanced technologies. The Department of Justice has also launched the Inclusive Global Legal Innovation Platform on ODR in collaboration with the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law to keep track of international developments of ODR and study various issues on the same. Besides, under the auspices of the Asian-African Legal Consultative Organization (AALCO) and with the support from the Central People’s Government, the AALCO Hong Kong Regional Arbitration Centre was officially opened in May this year. A specific mandate for this AALCO Hong Kong Regional Arbitration Centre is to promote the growth and effective functioning of arbitration and other dispute resolution services, including, of course, ODR. All these developments have highlighted the role of Hong Kong in the international development of ODR and the readiness of Hong Kong and our professionals in offering ODR services for ASEAN and Hong Kong businesses which require an efficient and inexpensive means to resolve their disputes by ODR as well as for those in need of capacity building for ODR. We look forward to collaborating further with ASEAN on our economic and technical co-operation, particularly in strengthening the ODR capabilities in this region and beyond. Secretary for Justice Paul Lam gave these remarks at the Workshop on ASEAN Online Dispute Resolution: ODR in Facilitating Cross-border Trade & Investment for ASEAN & Hong Kong Businesses under Hong Kong Legal Week 2022 on November 9.
The Workshop on Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) Workshop was held in hybrid mode today as part of Hong Kong Legal Week 2022.  With the support of the ASEAN Secretariat and Hong Kong's Trade & Industry Department, the workshop's theme was "ODR in Facilitating Cross-Border Trade & Investment for ASEAN & Hong Kong Businesses". Representatives from six ASEAN member states and the ASEAN Secretariat joined the Workshop in person in Hong Kong, with other ASEAN member states participating online. In delivering his opening remarks, Secretary for Justice Paul Lam highlighted the importance of ODR for micro, small and medium enterprises, particularly in facilitating cross-border trade and investment. Distinguished speakers from international organisations and ODR experts shared their insights on how ODR facilitates access to justice by providing a cost-effective and efficient solution to cross-boundary disputes in the era of flourishing digital trade. The workshop was also supported by the Economic & Technical Co-operation Work Programme under the free trade agreement between ASEAN and Hong Kong. Director-General of Trade & Industry Maggie Wong in her closing remarks said today's workshop contributed tremendously to enhancing the mutual co-operation and capacity building between ASEAN and Hong Kong. Click here to register for Hong Kong Legal Week 2022 events online.
The National 14th Five-Year Plan, a key national development strategy, supports the development of the “eight centres” in Hong Kong, including to enhance its status as the international finance, transportation and trade centre, and centre for international legal and dispute resolution services in the Asia-Pacific region. As echoed in the Policy Address this year, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government will continue to leverage on the advantages of our common law system to consolidate our strengths as an international legal services platform for deal making and dispute resolution, and to enhance the efficiency and competitiveness of the legal sector. The conference today will discuss the latest developments in arbitration and the application of the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (CISG) in Hong Kong and how these new developments could further enhance Hong Kong's attractiveness as an ideal place for dispute resolution in the region and beyond. Latest developments in arbitrationUnder “one country, two systems”, Hong Kong is the only common law jurisdiction in China. In the past 25 years since the return of Hong Kong to the motherland, Hong Kong and the Mainland have entered into nine arrangements on mutual legal assistance in civil and commercial matters, amongst which, three of the arrangements are arbitration-related, establishing effective mechanisms to facilitate reciprocal recognition and mutual enforcement of arbitral awards, and interim measures for protection of property, evidence and conduct preservation. Hong Kong possesses intrinsic strengths in dispute resolution with a pool of knowledgeable and experienced dispute resolution talents specialising in areas such as commerce and finance, shipping, construction and international investment law. We also have a sound and robust legal system, solid foundation of the rule of law, and our judiciary adopts a pro-arbitration approach in upholding the wide discretion of arbitrators and the neutrality and flexibility of the arbitral process. While our longstanding qualities earn us the laurels as the third most preferred seat for arbitration last year, as well as the top five preferred arbitral seats globally since 2015, it is only by our continued efforts in exploring innovative developments that could keep us competitive in the international arena of dispute resolution. (i) Third party fundingOver the years, the Arbitration Ordinance (Cap 609) has been refined from time to time to reflect the latest international arbitration developments, and to provide an up-to-date and accommodating legislative framework for arbitrations in Hong Kong. In 2017, amendments were made to the Arbitration Ordinance to clarify that third party funding of arbitration and mediation is not prohibited by the common law doctrines of maintenance and champerty, and provides for related safeguards. The Code of Practice for Third Party Funding of Arbitration, which sets out the practices and standards required of the third party funders, was issued in December 2018 before the relevant provisions in the Arbitration Ordinance came into operation in February 2019. Over the past three years, we have observed a significant growing trend in the use of third party funding in arbitration. The surge in the use of the regime by the arbitration sector has proven it to be a success, especially because it clarifies the legal position to facilitate arbitration parties lacking financial resources to pursue their claims with additional means, hence improving access to justice. (ii) Outcome related fee structures for arbitrationThis year, the Government is pursuing another major breakthrough to further widen the spectrum for arbitration funding options. Earlier in June, legislative amendments were made to the Arbitration Ordinance providing that certain agreements using outcome related fee structures for arbitration or ORFSA in short, are not prohibited by the common law doctrines of maintenance, champerty and barratry. ORFSA allows for greater autonomy for clients and lawyers to devise fee arrangements that suit their financial and business needs, assists parties in managing risks inherent in the arbitration process, and unlocks the funding options that lawyers could offer to their clients. Yesterday (November 7), members of the panel on legal matters (Panel on Administration of Justice & Legal Services) of the Legislative Council were briefed on the ORFSA subsidiary legislation. The panel supported the papers. The subsidiary legislation will be introduced into the Legislative Council for negative vetting and is hopeful that the ORFSA regime will be fully implemented in Hong Kong in December this year, thereby benefiting the arbitration users and legal sector, and enhancing Hong Kong's competitiveness by offering new funding options for Hong Kong's arbitration services. LawtechOn the topic of dispute resolution, it would be incomplete without mentioning the development of online dispute resolution (ODR) in Hong Kong. As supported by the Chief Executive in his Policy Address this year, to enhance the efficiency and competitiveness of the legal sector, the Government is committed to promoting the wider use of lawtech. The DoJ (Department of Justice) will also strive to establish an online mediation platform in the GBA (Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area) next year to provide Hong Kong and Mainland residents with a time and cost-effective online option for resolving cross-boundary disputes. With the support of the DoJ, Hong Kong's homegrown service provider of ODR and related services, eBRAM International Online Dispute Resolution Centre (eBRAM) officially launched its online arbitration and online mediation platforms just two weeks ago (on October 24). eBRAM plans to introduce an online deal-making platform towards the end of the year. These new platforms would not only enhance Hong Kong's lawtech development capacity by offering flexible, secure, reliable and affordable one-stop-shop online services, but also further strengthen Hong Kong's position as an international hub for legal, deal making and dispute resolution services. Application of the CISGAnother notable development in the legal field is the full implementation of the CISG in Hong Kong with effect from December 1 this year. The relevant ordinance was passed by the Legislative Council in September last year and it will also come into operation on the same date to implement the convention locally. The CISG has been described as “the most successful substantive uniform commercial law treaty”. Currently, there are 95 contracting states to the CISG from different legal traditions and at various levels of economic development, representing over two-thirds of the global economy. It is also remarkable to note that nearly half of the countries participating in the Belt & Road Initiative and more than half of Hong Kong's top 20 principal trading partners are also CISG contracting states. According to the statistics published by the United Nations Conference on Trade & Development, global trade reached a record high in 2021. As compared with the fourth quarter of 2019, East Asia has recorded the respective growth of 26% in imports and 35% in exports in the fourth quarter of 2021. Further, statistics published by the World Trade Organization show that Hong Kong ranked sixth in 2021 for the exports of world merchandise trade, and was the third largest exporter after the Mainland and Japan in the region. Applying the CISG to Hong Kong could facilitate deal making and reduce transaction costs as it allows for a uniform sales law to govern the bulk of Hong Kong businesses' international sales transactions, enabling businesses to trade with their overseas counterparts on a fair and level playing field by using a sales law which is familiar to both. With increasing international trades, commercial disputes are unavoidable. Implementing the CISG in Hong Kong also creates new opportunities for Hong Kong's legal and dispute resolution professionals, to advise on and handle CISG-related disputes as legal advisers, advocates and arbitrators, thereby widening the scope of their legal services, enhancing their competitiveness and reinforcing Hong Kong's position as a leading centre for international legal and dispute resolution services in terms of both arbitration and litigation. With the development of more cases on international trade law, the courts, legal practitioners, arbitrators in Hong Kong could also contribute to the global development of international commercial and trade law. The application and implementation of the CISG marks an important milestone for the development of international sale of goods law in Hong Kong. We are confident that Hong Kong and its overseas trading partners, including those along the Belt & Road Initiative, will benefit from this new development. ConclusionAs remarked by President Xi in his important speech delivered on July 1 this year, Hong Kong's close connection with the world market and strong support from the motherland remain its distinctive advantages. The latest developments in the legal sector have created abundant opportunities for our aspiring legal professionals, locally and internationally. It is one of our department's key policy initiatives this year to continue to promote the strengths of and opportunities for Hong Kong's legal and dispute resolution services on all fronts. Deputy Secretary for Justice Cheung Kwok-kwan gave these remarks at Generations in Arbitration Conference under Hong Kong Legal Week 2022 on November 8.
The summit marks the opening of Hong Kong Legal Week 2022, in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. As we celebrate our return to the motherland, we also commemorate the successful implementation of the “one country, two systems” principle for the past 25 years. Under the “one country, two systems” principle, Hong Kong has continued to thrive as the gateway connecting our country to the rest of the world. As stated by President Xi Jinping in his important speech on July 1, we must adhere to this principle in the long run. President Xi has also made it crystal clear that the central government fully supports Hong Kong to maintain the common law system. Our legal system is underpinned by the rule of law, which is a core value of our society and the cornerstone of Hong Kong’s success. The Basic Law not only guarantees the continuation of the common law system, but also ensures the judiciary’s independent judicial power, including that of final adjudication. Also enshrined in the Basic Law is the protection of various fundamental rights and freedoms in accordance with the law, manifesting the strong foundation of the rule of law tradition. Our strong rule of law tradition will continue to flourish. I am pleased to share with you a great development in this field. With the strong support of our country, the International Organization for Mediation Preparatory Office will be established in Hong Kong. The International Organization for Mediation will be an international inter-governmental organisation that will provide friendly, flexible, economical and efficient mediation services for international disputes. Next year, the office will commence and organise the negotiation of the relevant international convention and the preparatory work to establish the organisation. The great decision to choose the Hong Kong SAR as the location for this preparatory office signifies a vote of confidence by the relevant states in placing their trust in Hong Kong’s strength as an international legal and dispute resolution services centre in the Asia Pacific region. As mentioned in my Policy Address delivered last month, Hong Kong Legal Week 2022 is the starting point to showcase to the international community two important aspects of our legal system: first, the strengths of Hong Kong’s rule of law, and second, our diversified legal and dispute resolution services under this system. Throughout this week, we are privileged to be joined by eminent experts, practitioners, government officials, academics and professionals of different sectors, coming from around the globe. Our distinguished speakers will share their insights on a wide spectrum of issues, including facilitating access to justice through international instruments and diversified dispute resolution mechanisms, lawtech developments relevant to the Belt & Road Initiative, and promoting the rule of law for sustainability, to name but a few. Today’s summit, therefore, marks a very good start of our initiatives. I am honoured that the summit has gathered a prominent participation of guests and speakers from renowned international organisations and leading international experts of the relevant areas. Your participation in Hong Kong Legal Week signifies your vote of confidence in Hong Kong, our rule of law and our strength under the principle of “one country, two systems”. Last week, I welcomed top financiers around the globe in Hong Kong at our Global Financial Leaders’ Investment Summit. This week, we welcome distinguished legal professionals to Hong Kong Legal Week. Our message is clear: Hong Kong is onstage again! Our talent are ready to offer the world the best of their professional services, in commercial law, arbitration and intellectual property trading, as well as in finance, shipping and technology. Savour the chance to experience the smartest of Hong Kong while you are here! Chief Executive John Lee gave this video speech at the Asia-Pacific Private International Law Summit on November 7.
The five-day Hong Kong Legal Week 2022 opened today to showcase the city as an international legal and dispute resolution services centre. The participants include three prominent international legal organisations, namely the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law (UNIDROIT), the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH) and the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), as well as ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) member states, chambers of commerce, legal and other sectors. During the seven conferences and seminars at the event, participants attending onsite or online will discuss a wide range of topics, from facilitating access to justice through international instruments, arbitration, online dispute resolution to transnational litigation in civil and commercial matters and lawtech. This morning, the event started with the Asia-Pacific Private International Law Summit where representatives of UNIDROIT, HCCH and UNCITRAL and other distinguished guest speakers discussed a wide range of topics such as international instruments supporting asset-based financing, digital assets and private law. The summit was the first event co-organised by the Department of Justice (DoJ) and UNIDROIT under the memorandum of understanding signed earlier this year. Addressing the opening of Legal Week, Chief Executive John Lee said that Legal Week is the starting point to show the international community two important aspects of Hong Kong's legal system, which are the advantages of Hong Kong's rule of law as well as its diversified legal and dispute resolution services under the common law system. The participation of speakers and guests from renowned international organisations and leading international experts during Hong Kong Legal Week signified their vote of confidence in Hong Kong, the city's rule of law and its strengths under the principle of “one country, two systems”, he said. He also took the opportunity to share the news that with the strong support of the country, the International Organization for Mediation (IOMed) Preparatory Office will be established in Hong Kong for the preparatory work to establish IOMed which will provide friendly, flexible, economical and efficient mediation services for international disputes. Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Liu Guangyuan and Secretary-General of UNIDROIT Prof Ignacio Tirado also gave their welcoming speeches. To conclude the first day event, Secretary for Justice Paul Lam highlighted Hong Kong's close ties and co-operation with the Mainland, and strong connection with renowned international organisations. He noted that the summit is particularly momentous as it had brought together in one arena the “three sister” organisations of private international law - UNIDROIT, HCCH and UNCITRAL - all of which the DoJ has been working very closely with in recent years, with support from the central government. He said he hoped that the close synergy between Hong Kong and prominent law-related international organisations would create more opportunities and better prospects for the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.
It is a great honour for me to be here today to speak at the closing of the inaugural Asia-Pacific Private International Law Summit (APPILS), jointly launched by UNIDROIT (International Institute for the Unification of Private Law) and the Department of Justice (DoJ) of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, which marks the opening of Hong Kong Legal Week 2022. APPILSThe Asia-Pacific Private International Law Summit was conceived pursuant to the mutual aspiration of UNIDROIT and the DoJ to promote and further develop the understanding of private international law and international commercial law in the Asia-Pacific region. This summit is a particularly meaningful occasion because it denotes another milestone of our close partnership with UNIDROIT after the signing of our memorandum of understanding (MOU) in May this year regarding our mutual collaboration on private international law and international commercial law. (Note 1) This summit is also particularly momentous as it has brought together in one arena the three “sister organisations” of private international law - UNIDROIT, UNCITRAL (United Nations Commission on International Trade Law) and HCCH (Hague Conference on Private International Law) - all of which the DoJ has been working very closely with in the recent years, with support from the central government. We thank each organisation for their trust in Hong Kong and we look forward to even closer co-operation among us as we pursue our common goals to promote the development of private international law and rule of law in general. Review of topics discussed during APPILS We have heard many insightful and excellent presentations today covering a very wide range of important private international law topics. The topics explored by our expert panelists today are timely and relevant to Hong Kong as a leading international financial and legal hub, as well as the greater Asia-Pacific region. First session: Facilitating Access to Credit in the Asia-Pacific Region: International Instruments Supporting Asset-based Financing, Supply Chain Finance & LeasingAs a leading international financial hub with a robust legal system, Hong Kong continues to attract a multitude of financial institutions and organisations to conduct their businesses here. Asset-based financing and supply chain finance transactions are therefore an integral part of such businesses to access more credit and working capital. In this respect, we have heard from the expert panel in session one on the important international instruments available in support of these secured transactions. International instruments such as the Cape Town Convention (Note 2) and its protocols are fine examples of efforts to harmonise international security registration requirements and legal remedies, giving more confidence to financiers to extend credit to businesses. It is also encouraging to see the continued efforts by UNIDROIT, HCCH and UNCITRAL to further enhance harmonisation in this area, for example, through the Model Law on Factoring project and other relevant instruments by all these organisations. Second session: Providing Legal Clarity for Emerging Technologies: Digital Assets & Private LawIn recent years, in line with the global trend, the Hong Kong SAR Government has been actively seeking to strengthen and develop our digital economy (Note 3). The local fintech and virtual asset industries have grown substantially, bringing with them numerous opportunities for financial innovation. Indeed, the Hong Kong SAR Government is also actively striving for new measures for the virtual asset sector (Note 4). The Government has been working to put in place a comprehensive system for the regulation of these emerging markets to ensure their orderly and sustainable development (Note 5). In this connection, UNIDROIT's Digital Assets & Private Law project (Note 6), which embodies best practices and international standards on the transfer and use of digital assets, is closely relevant. Today's discussion has given us much food for thought on how private international law principles may interact with the laws of our jurisdiction to regulate digital assets especially in light of their special characteristics. Third session: Bridging the Gap in the Insolvency Legal Architecture (eg UNIDROIT's Project on Guidance for Bank Insolvency Proceedings)In addition to our efforts made on the technological development to promote business growth, we are also fully aware of the need to practise good risk management and even debt restructuring during the business life cycle. This is particularly important in light of recent market volatilities, and the complex issues that would commonly arise in international transactions. In session three, we have heard about the meaningful efforts being made to improve cross-boundary insolvency proceedings. An example of this is UNIDROIT's on-going project on Bank Insolvency (Note 7), which is working towards an international soft law instrument to provide legal guidance for smoother cross-boundary co-ordination on bank liquidation proceedings. There is one good domestic example - it is the record of meeting on Mutual Recognition of & Assistance to Bankruptcy (Insolvency) Proceedings between the Courts of the Mainland and the Hong Kong SAR signed between the DoJ and the Supreme People's Court in May 2021, which provides for the mutual recognition of and assistance to insolvency proceedings between these two jurisdictions (Note 8). The insights shared by the panelists on recent cases in this respect that have successfully utilised this arrangement are both enlightening and reassuring (Note 9). The continued effective implementation of this unique arrangement would go a long way to facilitate and encourage the rescue of financially troubled businesses which have commercial presence in both Hong Kong and the Mainland, which may also shed light for development of a co-operative mechanism for other jurisdictions and internationally. Fourth session: Into the Future: Strengthening Engagement in the Asia-Pacific Region The arrangement between the Mainland the Hong Kong SAR has also showed the importance of cross-boundary co-operation, which is indeed important for this region with very diverse legal systems. Session four, the last session, has highlighted the importance of co-operation and the need to strengthen engagement in the region as well as the very close ties that Hong Kong has formed over the years with renowned international organisations in this regard. As mentioned during the panel discussion, the DoJ has secured invaluable opportunities to second our local legal talents to the offices of UNIDROIT, HCCH and UNCITRAL. Not only does this allow our lawyers to expand their knowledge of the operation of international organisations; it also allows us to inject some of our own perspective into the development of these international organisations and international law during such exchange (Note 10). Another aspect of our collaborated efforts in strengthening engagement within Asia-Pacific can also be witnessed through participation in the capacity-building activities as a member economy of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) organisation. With a view to promoting strong, balanced, inclusive, innovative and sustainable growth in the region, we have been actively involved in the affairs of the Economic Committee (EC), which is tasked to promote structural reform and strengthen APEC economies' capability in both macro- and microeconomic issues. UNIDROIT, UNCITRAL and HCCH have all acquired the accredited guest status to participate in the meetings and activities of the EC. Lastly, we are very proud that Hong Kong is host to offices for various international organisations, with which we work in close association. The HCCH Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific was established back in 2012, while the DoJ Project Office for Collaboration with UNCITRAL was set up in 2020. It is also worthwhile to mention that most recently, the AALCO (Asian-African Legal Consultative Organization) Hong Kong Regional Arbitration Centre was opened in Hong Kong in May this year. They are all housed in the Hong Kong Legal Hub, in the very prime location on Hong Kong Island. These collaborations signify these organisations' unfailing faith in Hong Kong's rule of law, legal and dispute resolution services. It also cements Hong Kong's status as an international centre for legal, dealmaking and dispute resolution services in the Asia-Pacific region. We continue to welcome international organisations which are committed to the betterment of international law to join our legal hub and explore opportunities for further collaboration and for capacity-building work in the region. It is our sincere hope that our close synergy may create more opportunities and better prospects for the Asia-Pacific region and beyond. Concluding remarksLadies and gentlemen, it is my pleasure to announce that the inaugural Asia-Pacific Private International Law Summit has come to a successful conclusion. The success of this summit is the culmination of the collective efforts and dedication of UNIDROIT and my colleagues at the DoJ, as well as the distinguished participants from different organisations. My heartfelt thanks goes to everyone who have contributed to the organisation of this summit. Last but not least, this summit and other events of Hong Kong Legal Week 2022 would not have been possible without the steadfast and continuous strong support of the central government and other international organisations including HCCH and UNCITRAL, for which we are deeply grateful. Note 1: This is the second MOU with UNIDROIT relating to administrative arrangements for collaboration relating to private international law and international commercial law, while the first MOU signed between UNIDROIT and the Government of the Hong Kong SAR in 2021 was in relation to the secondment arrangement.Note 2: Please find linked UNIDROIT's webpage on the Cape Town Convention: 3: 4: 5: Article by Secretary for Financial Services & the Treasury Christopher Hui on "New measures for virtual asset sector" (March 17, 2022), see: 6: See For the latest status of the working group on this topic, please see: 7: See: 8: Please see the press release (May 14, 2021) on the signing of the record of meeting: 9: Relevant cases include (but are not limited to): Re Joint & Several Liquidators of Ozner Water International Holding Ltd (In Liquidation) [2022] HKCFI 363; Re Samson Paper Co Ltd (in Creditors' Voluntary Liquidation) [2021] HKCFI 2151)Note 10: 11: Schedule of Days 2 to 5 of Legal Week 2022: Day 2 - (i) HCCH Conventions Supporting Transnational Litigation in Civil or Commercial Matters: A Workshop to celebrate the Tenth Anniversary of the Regional Office for Asia & the Pacific; (ii) Generations in Arbitration Conference. Day 3 - (i) Workshop on ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Online Dispute Resolution: ODR in Facilitating Cross-Boundary Trade & Investment for ASEAN & Hong Kong Businesses; (ii) Hong Kong Mediation Lecture. Day 4 - The Law Society of Hong Kong's Fifth Belt & Road Conference. Day 5 - Rule of Law Congress: Rule of Law & Justice for All. Secretary for Justice Paul Lam gave these closing remarks at the Asia-Pacific Private International Law Summit under Hong Kong Legal Week 2022 on November 7.
Hong Kong Legal Week 2022 will be launched on November 7 bringing together prominent experts, practitioners, government officials, academics and elites from diverse sectors from around the world to share their insights. The issues to be discussed at the Department of Justice’s annual flagship event this year include facilitating access to justice through international instruments and diversified dispute resolution mechanisms, promoting the rule of law for sustainability, and the latest LawTech developments relevant to the Belt & Road Initiative and in the international arena. The five-day programme will feature a series of international and important events in hybrid mode, including the Asia-Pacific Private International Law Summit, the Law Society of Hong Kong’s Fifth Belt & Road Conference and more. Known as the “three sisters” of private international law, the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law, the Hague Conference on Private International Law and the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law will participate in many of the events throughout the week. Live broadcast will be available. Members of the public are also welcome to register for joining the event online.
The Government today gazetted an amendment notice to expand the places where feeding wild animals is prohibited to the entire area of Hong Kong, with a view to preventing wild animals, in particular wild pigs, from losing their ability to forage in the wild. The Prohibition of Feeding of Wild Animals Notice 1999 (Amendment) Notice 2022 will be tabled at the Legislative Council on November 9 for negative vetting and come into effect on December 31. The Agriculture, Fisheries & Conservation Department pointed out that feeding is the main cause of wild pig nuisance in recent years. To effectively control such nuisance, apart from conducting capture and humane dispatch operations to reduce the number of wild pigs at nuisance sites, the Government also needs to curb wild pig feeding activities, thereby reducing the incentives that attract wild pigs to linger in urban areas and near residential areas. Currently, the coverage of the feeding ban area under the Wild Animals Protection Ordinance only includes the Lion Rock, Kam Shan and Shing Mun country parks, as well as part of the Tai Mo Shan Country Park and Tai Po Kau Nature Reserve. As such, the department considered it necessary to expand the feeding ban area to cover the entire city in order to step up the control of wild animal feeding activities, particularly the feeding of wild pigs. After the area's expansion, anyone without a special permit feeding any wild animal, including wild pigs, at any place in Hong Kong could be prosecuted. The department anticipates that the nuisance caused by feeding wild pigs will decrease substantially, while wild pigs' reliance on feeding by humans can be reduced. Meanwhile, the department said it would cope with the possible increase in enforcement work through internal resource redeployment and a risk-based enforcement strategy. It is also planning to amend the ordinance to increase the penalty for illegal feeding of wild animals and introduce a fixed penalty to enhance the overall deterrent effect, so as to further curb wild pig feeding activities.
The Security Bureau expressed deep regret over a misleading and fact-twisting commentary written by Lun Chi-wai and published by Ming Pao today on the control of cannabidiol (CBD) through legislation and the Government's anti-drug work. It said the article pays no regard to the anti-drug efforts contributed by different sectors over the years and misinterprets the well-proven zero tolerance policy towards drugs. “When commenting on the publication of a gazette notice for bringing CBD under the control of the First Schedule to the Dangerous Drugs Ordinance, the article seriously distorts the intent of safeguarding public health by controlling CBD through legislation, and purposely misinterprets such legislation as relating to the policy of the Mainland, which may sow discord between the Mainland and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.” The bureau also pointed out that the Government has repeatedly explained the hazards of CBD and its scientific justifications for controlling the substance as a dangerous drug to the Legislative Council, members of the public and the sectors concerned, while the welfare sector has also voiced its support. “The article turns a blind eye to these facts, downplays the harmful effects caused by drug abuse and irrationally associates our legislation with the Mainland. “The content may cause dissention between the two places and may confuse the public as well as affect their vigilance against drugs,” it noted. Regarding the article's suggestion that the legislation to prohibit ketamine in Hong Kong in early years was mainly following the practices overseas, the bureau said it is a misleading claim disregarding the determination to restrain drug harm by the Government and the community as well as the nature of ketamine as a dangerous drug. With everyone's concerted efforts, the number of ketamine abusers has decreased over the years, it added. Furthermore, the bureau emphasised that the welfare sector has been a key partner of the Government on anti-drug work for many years and that it is grateful for the sector's contribution and support. It believes that the sector is professionally capable of making a judgement and will not blindly support the Government's anti-drug efforts and policies. The bureau said: “The article, which questions the welfare sector, not only affects the morale of the workers in the anti-drug sector, but also arouses suspicion of inciting the sector to question the Government's anti-drug efforts or to pull back its support. “As a member of the welfare sector, the author's disregard of public well-being and groundless speculation are disappointing.” The Government hopes the community can be united in the fight against drugs, adding that all discussions of anti-drug policies should be based on facts. It said it will continue to educate the public on the harm caused by drugs, including cannabis and ketamine, and will work on the publicity on controlling CBD as a dangerous drug from February 1 next year. The bureau also expressed grave concern about the misleading content published by Ming Pao recently, including the commentary on how the Immigration Department handles the screening of trafficking in persons cases and the newspaper cartoon about police officers' handling of requests for assistance by schools.