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Lawyers from SARs start practicing on mainland

By CHAI HUA in Shenzhen, Guangdong | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2022-08-24 09:30
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Hong Kong and Macao lawyers have started to participate in mainland trials after receiving licenses to practice in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.

The first case represented by a Hong Kong lawyer-a dispute between Hong Kong litigants over a property in Shenzhen-opened at the Futian District People's Court in Shenzhen on Aug 17.

The first case represented by a Macao lawyer was successfully mediated online on Aug 16 by a court in Guangzhou.

They are among the first group of lawyers from the two special administrative regions to be granted certificates to practice law in nine Guangdong cities in the Greater Bay Area in July. On Aug 19, another 21 Hong Kong and Macao lawyers in Shenzhen also received licenses.

Junius Ho Kwan-yiu, the lawyer in the first Hong Kong case, said the court's rigorous and humanized processes, such as initiatively investigating the facts of the dispute and inquiring about the willingness to mediate, left a deep impression on him.

"The Greater Bay Area provides a platform for Hong Kong lawyers to access the vast mainland market as we can deal with cases involving not only Hong Kong citizens, but also mainland litigants in the area," he said.

"After I received the license, about 10 to 15 cases have approached us," the Hong Kong lawyer told China Daily. "The majority are about cross-border legacy disputes, intellectual protection and Hong Kong citizens' investment on the mainland.

"Hong Kong lawyers have the advantages in taking international projects, but mainland counterparts are improving very quickly," he noted, saying he is "excited and nervous" about the new journey.

He is looking forward to sharing his "debut" experience with the legal service industry in Hong Kong. He also proposed The Law Society of Hong Kong set up a platform for collecting all Hong Kong lawyers' practice experiences in the Greater Bay Area and encourage more to join.

Tian Jingjing, the judge of Ho's case, said that Hong Kong and Macao lawyers are professional and international and can provide high-quality cross-border judicial services.

"Their practice in the nine cities of the Greater Bay Area can give full play to the role of a bridge, and promote the connection and integration of legal services between the mainland and the two SARs," Tian said.

The admission of Hong Kong and Macao lawyers can also increase the competitiveness of mainland law firms, especially those with international businesses, said Wang Shouqun, secretary-general of the Qianhai Belt and Road Legal Service Federation.

In the future, she estimated they will be an integral part of comprehensive and large-scale law firms in the area.

Qualification recognition is just the first step for legal service providers from the two SARs to prosper in the mainland market. To ease their work and life in the area, Shenzhen on Aug 19 unveiled a service center dedicated to providing training and consultation for these lawyers, and it is also responsible for recommending them to local law firms.

Liang Zhen, deputy director of the Bureau of Justice in Guangdong, said the bureau will guarantee Hong Kong and Macao lawyers' right to practice, and establish convenient working and living facilities for them.

"We will further optimize the joint meeting mechanism of legal departments in the Greater Bay Area, deepen the cooperation, and promote more rules and coordination mechanisms," he said.

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