GBA soft connectivity explored

November 9, 2023

Deputy Secretary for Justice Cheung Kwok-kwan today stressed that it is necessary to continue to promote the interface of the rules and mechanisms of the three places in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA) to achieve "soft connectivity", given the GBA's importance to the overall modernisation of the country.


Mr Cheung gave the remarks at a forum themed "Gateway to the Opportunities in the GBA", which is one of the highlights of Hong Kong Legal Week 2023.


He hoped that all parties could work together in turning the differences among systems into benefits, thereby facilitating the exchanges and interactions between people and businesses.


Mr Cheung noted that the Department of Justice (DoJ) is actively implementing various measures to facilitate the public and businesses to resolve cross-boundary disputes, such as enhancing the mechanism for mutual legal assistance in civil and commercial matters between Hong Kong and the Mainland, promoting the extension of the measures of allowing Hong Kong-invested enterprises to adopt Hong Kong law and allowing Hong Kong-invested enterprises to choose for arbitration to be seated in Hong Kong, and taking forward the setting up of a standard online mediation platform for the GBA to support the synergistic development of the legal sector of the three places.


He also highlighted that legal practitioners from Hong Kong and Macau are important contributors to enhancing the rule of law in the GBA, adding that he hoped the forum could provide more innovative ideas to facilitate the concerted efforts of all parties in making quality legal services a brand name for the GBA.


Co-organised by the DoJ, Guangdong Province’s Department of Justice and Macau's Office of the Secretary for Administration & Justice, the forum has attracted over 1,000 registrations from Hong Kong, the Mainland and overseas for participation in a hybrid mode.


There were about 200 representatives from the legal sectors of the Mainland and Macau coming to Hong Kong to attend in person, to discuss the promotion of "soft connectivity" in the legal and dispute resolution practices of the three places.


Bureau of Lawyers' Work of the Ministry of Justice Director Tian Xin delivered a keynote speech introducing the extension of the pilot scheme for Hong Kong and Macau legal practitioners to practise in the GBA, recently authorised by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, the current situation and the next step in taking forward the relevant work.


At the forum, legal practitioners and scholars from the three places explored various issues from different perspectives, such as strengthening legal co-operation and the interface of legal systems, better nurturing legal talent, and enhancing the depth and breadth of participation by Hong Kong and Macau legal sectors in Mainland legal proceedings, so as to join hands in promoting the rule of law development in the GBA and its high-level opening up.


An unprecedented feature of the forum was a GBA mock court session on a case involving a cross-boundary trading of goods and loan agreement, to illustrate the similarities and differences in substantive laws and procedures relevant to the handling of cross-boundary commercial disputes among the three places and explore ways to strengthen collaboration of GBA legal professionals in order to build a rule-based business environment together.


Also for the first time, exhibition booths dedicated to promoting legal services were set up, where representatives from Hong Kong, Macau and the nine Mainland cities in the GBA introduced to forum participants the new developments and opportunities of the GBA's legal services and answered enquiries in person.


The DoJ and the Law Society of Hong Kong also co-organised a GBA Young Lawyers Forum under the theme of "Building a Future Together under GBA Opportunities".


Representatives from the legal, political and business sectors discussed the roles of legal professionals in the rule of law development in the GBA.


Young legal practitioners from the three places then shared their experience of practising in the GBA through an interactive session in understanding the three jurisdictions, and explored how young lawyers could contribute to the country's high-quality development with their expertise.

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