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2022

31/08/2022
With the gradual easing of global challenges from the pandemic, now is the time to explore new opportunities and deepen co-operation through the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI), which is the largest platform for international co-operation. From 2013 to 2021, the annual trade volume between China and countries along the Belt & Road expanded 73% from US$1.04 trillion to US$1.8 trillion, and new infrastructure contracts valued at US$1.08 trillion were entered during the same period. In respect of any trade or investment contract, there is always a possibility that disputes may arise. It would be prudent at the outset to give some serious considerations on how and where any such dispute may be resolved. On this occasion, I would like to share my views on how the full-fledged legal and dispute resolution services in Hong Kong can provide strong support for investors and the dispute resolution sectors in navigating new opportunities along the Belt & Road. Hong Kong flourishes under ‘one country, two systems’With its strategic geographical location in the Asia-Pacific region, Hong Kong is well placed to connect with the rest of the world, and Hong Kong is indeed the main gateway to Mainland China. As emphasised by President Xi Jinping at the meeting celebrating the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to the motherland on July 1, 2022, the Central People’s Government (CPG) fully supports Hong Kong in its effort to seize historic opportunities offered by China’s development and actively dovetail itself with the 14th Five-Year Plan and other national strategies such as the development of the Greater Bay Area and, of course, the BRI. In his address, President Xi underscored that the CPG fully supports Hong Kong in maintaining the common law system, being one of its distinctive advantages. More importantly, he confirmed that the principle of “one country, two systems” must be adhered to in the long run. This means that our legal system including its independent judiciary, as well as law and practice familiar to the international commercial community, shall and will continue, thereby dispelling any previous doubt about the future of Hong Kong. In the past 25 years, nine arrangements on mutual legal assistance in civil and commercial matters have been signed between the Mainland and Hong Kong. Three arrangements are arbitration-related to facilitate reciprocal recognition and mutual enforcement of arbitral awards and interim measures for protection of property, evidence and conduct preservation. The latest addition is the Arrangement on Reciprocal Recognition & Enforcement of Judgments in Civil & Commercial Matters, which will soon be implemented. It aims to provide a comprehensive mechanism for reciprocal recognition and enforcement of judgments between the Mainland and Hong Kong, which covers around 90% of cross-boundary civil and commercial cases. These arrangements enable people doing business in and with the Mainland to enjoy the legal protection offered by the Hong Kong legal system. International collaboration in dispute resolutionWith the staunch support from the CPG, we welcomed the establishment of the Asian-African Legal Consultative Organization (AALCO) Hong Kong Regional Arbitration Centre (AALCO HK Centre) as our new Legal Hub tenant in May this year. Together with five other regional arbitration centres of AALCO, the AALCO HK Centre stands out by offering cutting-edge online dispute resolution services for the Asian-African region. As of 2022, 46 African countries have signed memorandums of understanding to be part of the BRI. Through fostering the development and promotion of international commercial arbitration in the Asian-African region, the AALCO HK Centre further strengthens Hong Kong’s unique role in building closer global connection with our African counterparts. Innovation in dispute resolutionThe pandemic has changed the way we work. While I believe everyone is pleased that physical events are gradually returning, the convenience of using legal technology, or lawtech in short, has found its way to stay by providing more efficient and cost-effective ways to resolve disputes, which in turn further enhances access to justice. One of the initiatives supported by the Government is the Hong Kong Legal Cloud, which offers secured, quick and affordable storage of and access to files and information for the legal and dispute resolution profession. The reach of lawtech extends beyond the local community. In April 2020, Hong Kong has opted into the APEC Collaborative Framework for Online Dispute Resolution of Cross-Border Business-to-Business Disputes (APEC ODR Framework), which encourages the use of online negotiation, mediation and arbitration by micro, small and medium enterprises in resolving business-to-business disputes. Our home-grown institution, eBRAM Centre, has launched the APEC Online Dispute Resolution procedural rules tailor-made for the APEC Collaborative Framework last year and has been listed in April 2022 as the first and only ODR service provider from Hong Kong under the APEC ODR Framework to serve the APEC economies. Funding options for arbitration in Hong KongDriven by growing market demand for flexible funding options for arbitration, and to facilitate meritorious claims and promote access to justice, the Government has been bringing forth supportive measures to facilitate arbitration users. In 2019, we have amended the Arbitration Ordinance to make it clear that third party funding of arbitration is permissible in Hong Kong. This year, we have introduced outcome related fee structures for arbitration (ORFSA) to provide sophisticated clients and commercial entities with additional funding options through diversified fee structures for arbitration. With ORFSA, clients and lawyers may enter into fee arrangements that best suit their financial and risk management needs. This enables Hong Kong to compete on an even playing field with other major arbitral seats where similar fee arrangements are allowed. The ORFSA (Amendment) Ordinance 2022 lays the legal framework for ORFSA, particularly by providing that certain ORFSA agreements are not prohibited by the common law doctrines of maintenance and champerty. Subsidiary legislation will be enacted to set out the more detailed regulatory framework and the particular safeguards to further protect the interests of arbitration users. We aim to fully implement the ORFSA regime by the end of this year. In respect of mediation, we work towards developing Hong Kong into an international investment law and investor-state dispute resolution skills training base by building up a team of investment mediators in Asia. This also complements the Mediation Mechanism for Investment Disputes established under the CEPA Investment Agreement between Mainland and Hong Kong, which encourages the use of Hong Kong’s mediation services by Mainland investors to resolve cross-boundary investment disputes. ConclusionAt the meeting of the Advisory Council of the Belt & Road Forum for International Cooperation last December, State Councillor Wang Yi said that “the BRI has never been a geopolitical strategy, but a road of development that helps to deliver the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and drives shared progress and prosperity”. As we move gradually to post-pandemic days amidst global economic headwinds, the BRI has become truly a path of hope bolstering resilience and optimism for what lies ahead. With the steadfast support from the CPG, together with its unique strengths including a robust legal system and fine common law tradition, Hong Kong, as part of China - the largest market in the world - stands out from its global competitors. Hong Kong is committed to improving its legal regime continuously to better serve the international community, as well as offering users a buffet of dispute resolution options catering to the diversified needs of different clients from around the world. Whatever you need, you will find it here in Hong Kong. I hope that this summit will reassure you that Hong Kong will continue to flourish and remain as the prime platform for businesses and practitioners to seize the golden opportunities that lie ahead along the Belt & Road. Secretary for Justice Paul Lam gave these remarks at the Belt & Road Summit thematic breakout session titled International Dispute Resolution: Hong Kong as a leading centre for resolving disputes along the Belt & Road on August 31.
30/08/2022
Police today held the Bank Staff Recognition Ceremony to commend the efforts of banks and their frontline staff in assisting the force to combat deception cases. Addressing the ceremony, Commissioner of Police Siu Chak-yee said the force works in close collaboration with the banking sector to tackle deception cases and noted the fact that fraudsters employ different defrauding tricks to commit crimes with the use of phones and the Internet. Since its establishment, the Anti-Deception Co-ordination Centre has successfully prevented 1,760 scam cases from happening with the joint efforts of Police and the banking industry. Among them, some 460 cases were detected by bank staff and as a direct result, 571 fraudsters were arrested and over $10.7 billion was intercepted. Mr Siu praised the frontline bank employees for their vigilance and professionalism which had successfully prevented scams from taking place. Additionally, he expressed the hope that Police would deepen its collaboration with the banking sector to intercept payments to fraudsters in a round-the-clock manner and added that the force hoped the trade could make use of RegTech (regulatory technology) in crime detection and prevention. At today’s ceremony, both individual and co-operate awards were presented in recognition of the banks’ contribution in the prevention and inspection of deception cases. In the past year and a half, 192 frontline bank staff assisted Police in identifying 290 such cases and reported them to the co-ordination centre. Police also pointed out that one bank, which was given the Effective Application of RegTech award, had detected at least 26 ongoing deception cases by applying such regulatory technology.
29/08/2022
The Security Bureau announced that one more Hong Kong resident who had sought assistance from the Immigration Department safely returned to Hong Kong from Thailand today. The individual concerned came back to the city with the assistance of the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the Chinese embassies in the Republic of the Union of Myanmar and the Kingdom of Thailand, the bureau's dedicated task force and the Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office in Bangkok. So far, 13 assistance seekers have returned to Hong Kong safely under the task force's co-ordination. The bureau urged people to contact the Immigration Department as soon as possible if they know or have received information of victims in need of assistance. They may use the WhatsApp hotline 5190 8909, contact the department's Assistance to Hong Kong Residents Unit at (852) 1868, call the 1868 hotline by network data via the department's mobile app or submit an Online Assistance Request Form.
28/08/2022
The Security Bureau announced that one more Hong Kong resident who had sought assistance from the Immigration Department has safely returned to Hong Kong from Thailand. The resident came back to the city today with the assistance of the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the chinese embassies in the Republic of the Union of Myanmar and the Kingdom of Thailand, the bureau's dedicated task force and the Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office in Bangkok. So far, 12 assistance seekers have returned to the city safely under the task force's co-ordination. The bureau appealed to Hong Kong residents or their family members concerned to contact the Immigration Department without delay. They may make use of the WhatsApp hotline 5190 8909, call the department's Assistance to Hong Kong Residents Unit at 1868, contact the 1868 hotline by network data call via the department's mobile application or submit an Online Assistance Request Form.
26/08/2022
The Security Bureau announced that six more Hong Kong residents who had sought assistance from the Immigration Department have safely returned to Hong Kong from Thailand. They came back to the city today with the assistance of the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the Chinese embassies in the Republic of the Union of Myanmar and the Kingdom of Thailand, the bureau’s dedicated task force and the Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office in Bangkok.  So far, 10 assistance seekers have returned to the city safely under the task force’s co-ordination. Additionally, one more assistance seeker will arrive home later tonight. The bureau appealed to Hong Kong residents or their family members concerned to contact the Immigration Department without delay. They may use the WhatsApp hotline 5190 8909, call the department’s Assistance to Hong Kong Residents Unit at 1868, contact the 1868 hotline by network data call via the department mobile app or submit the Online Assistance Request Form. Anyone who knows or has received information of victims in need of assistance should contact the Immigration Department as soon as possible.
25/08/2022
Director of Immigration Au Ka-wang is undergoing isolation in accordance with the Centre for Health Protection's guidelines after he tested positive for COVID-19 through a rapid antigen test (RAT), the Immigration Department said today. Mr Au, who has no recent travel history, last went to work today. He wore masks and followed disease prevention measures at work, including conducting RATs daily. The department will carry out thorough cleaning and disinfection at the office concerned and continue to implement disease prevention measures vigorously.
25/08/2022
The Security Bureau announced that three more Hong Kong residents who had sought assistance from the Immigration Department have safely returned to Hong Kong from Thailand. They came back to the city with the assistance of the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the Chinese embassies in the Republic of the Union of Myanmar and the Kingdom of Thailand, the bureau’s dedicated task force and the Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office in Bangkok. So far, four assistance seekers have returned to the city safely under the task force’s co-ordination. The bureau appealed to Hong Kong residents or their family members concerned to contact the Immigration Department without delay. They may use the WhatsApp hotline 5190 8909, call the department’s Assistance to Hong Kong Residents Unit at 1868, contact the 1868 hotline by network data call via the department mobile app or submit the Online Assistance Request Form. Anyone who knows or has received information of victims in need of assistance should contact the Immigration Department as soon as possible.
24/08/2022
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government today announced that the operating hours of the Man Kam To Control Point (MKTCP) for cargo clearance will change to 7am to midnight daily from September 2. Due to the epidemic situation earlier this year, and to ensure a stable supply of fresh produce to Hong Kong, the operating hours of the MKTCP for cargo clearance was extended to 7am to 3am the next day. The extension was agreed by the Hong Kong SAR Government and the Shenzhen Municipal Government. Given that the epidemic situation has become more stable, both sides have agreed to adjust the MKTCP's operating hours from September 2. The MKTCP will provide cargo clearance on September 1 to 3am the next day. The Hong Kong SAR Government emphasised that the trade will be informed of the operating hour adjustment at the MKTCP in a timely manner, and the smooth supply of food produce to Hong Kong will not be affected.
23/08/2022
Police announced today that the Commissioner of Police Siu Chak-yee has tested positive for COVID-19 through a rapid antigen test and is undergoing isolation in accordance with the guidelines of the Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health. Mr Siu, who has no recent travel history, last went to work on August 22. He wore surgical masks and followed relevant disease prevention measures at work that included taking a rapid antigen test daily. Police emphasised that thorough cleaning and disinfection operations will be carried out at the office concerned and disease prevention measures will continue to be implemented vigorously.
22/08/2022
The Security Bureau announces that a Hong Kong resident who had sought assistance from the Immigration Department has safely returned to Hong Kong from Thailand. The individual concerned came back to the city with the assistance of the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the Chinese Embassy in the Kingdom of Thailand, the bureau's dedicated task force and the Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office in Bangkok. The bureau said it attaches great importance to recent incidents in which Hong Kong people were suspected to have been lured to Southeast Asian countries and detained to engage in illegal work. In addition to giving priority to the work involved in saving such individuals and rendering all possible aid to them, the bureau added that it co-ordinates the efforts of Government departments with the aim of helping assistance seekers return to Hong Kong safely. The bureau appealed to Hong Kong residents or their family members concerned to contact the Immigration Department without delay. They may use the WhatsApp hotline 5190 8909, call the department’s Assistance to Hong Kong Residents Unit at 1868, contact the 1868 hotline by network data call via the department mobile application or submit the Online Assistance Request Form. Anyone who knows or has received information of victims in need of assistance should contact the Immigration Department as soon as possible.

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