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Lawyers applaud plan on Hong Kong, China courts
Fri Apr 14, 3:43 AM ET

HONG KONG (AFP) - Hong Kong's legal profession has welcomed a government plan to bring its judicial system in line with China, saying the move was long overdue.

Rimsky Yuen, vice-chairman of the Hong Kong Bar Association, said the proposal to allow commercial case judgements made in Hong Kong and China to be enforced on either side of the border had been urged by lawyers and businesses.

"It's something that's been in discussion for many years," Yuen told AFP. "It gives more flexibility and reduces the distrust between each side."

Although Hong Kong is a territory of China, it has maintained its own legal system since it reverted from British colonial rule in 1997.

The proposal to streamline commercial law had first been mooted before the the handover to China.

But it had foundered because of legal experts' concerns about the quality of China's legal system, where there is little transparency in judgements and cases are heard in secret.

Yuen said that the architects of the proposed pact had managed to overcome such obstacles.

"It will mean that companies will be able to include an option in any contract that, in the event of a dispute, would enable judgements made in either jurisdiction to be enforced across the border," said Yuen.

The pact had been suggested following a number of high-profile dispute settlements between Hong Kong and Chinese companies that were never compensated because the aggrieved parties were unable to enforce the judgements.

The government said the scope of the pact could be widened to bring greater parity between the two legal systems.

Such international dispute settlement arrangements are common around the world, but there has never been one between Hong Kong ane China because previous pacts had assumed the two to be part of the same jurisdiction.
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