Acknowledging the Contributions of Charles Lee GBM OBE JP

While Mr. Lee, who was among this year’s Roll of Honour Honourees, was not available for an interview, the following was provided by the Hong Kong Law Society to highlight his many accomplishments and contributions to the profession and the Hong Kong legal community.​

Mr. Lee is a solicitor and a China-Appointed Attesting Officer.

He graduated from the London School of Economics and Political Science of the University of London with a Master’s degree in Law. He was admitted as a solicitor in England and Hong Kong in 1968 and 1969, respectively.

Besides his legal qualification, he is also a qualified accountant and a chartered secretary.

Mr. Lee founded Woo, Kwan, Lee & Lo in 1973, and is now a consultant of the firm.

Mr. Lee has been an influential figure in Hong Kong, particularly in shaping Hong Kong’s financial infrastructure to support its role as an international finance centre. He is also a prime-mover of reforms.

From 1968 to 1973, he was the Secretary to the Companies Law Revision Committee and played a leading role in driving the enactment of the Securities Ordinance and substantial amendments to the Companies Ordinance.

From 1988 to 1991, he was a member of the Council of the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited. He became its Chairman in 1992, and remained in that post until 1994. In 1999, he became the first Chairman of Hong Kong’s merged stock and future exchanges and associated clearing houses, the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing. He has indeed played a key role in breaking down initial hostility of Hong Kong’s stockbrokers and futures brokers and pushing through the merger of Hong Kong’s stock and futures exchange. He remained as the chair of the Hong Kong Exchange for seven years until 2006.

During his tenure as the Chairman of the Stock Exchange and the Hong Kong Exchange, Mr. Lee initiated a series of reforms that modernised the operations of these organisations, attracted listings from mainland enterprises, and also reinforced Hong Kong’s position as an international financial centre. We saw him successfully encourage many big enterprises in Hong Kong to go public at a time when most favoured bank loans over equity and pioneer the landmark event in 1993 when we had the first mainland enterprise listing in Hong Kong. He insisted that Chinese enterprises wishing to raise funds in Hong Kong should upgrade their corporate governance and management style in line with international standards, and rejected suggestions for a separate China board with lower listing requirements.

The effort of Mr. Lee to facilitate the flourishing of the IPO market for Hong Kong has generated a lot of work for the legal profession.

Mr. Lee has also displayed great enthusiasm for public service and has extensive experience in this regard. Besides being the Chairman of the Stock Exchange and the Hong Kong Exchange, he has taken up many other public appointments. To name but a few: in 1997, he served as a non-official ExCo member for a total of 12 years, over two time periods from 1997 to 2002 and then from 2005 to 2012. In 1998, he was appointed by the Hong Kong Government to coordinate the formation of the Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Authority and has acted as the chairman and advisor of the Authority. He also served on the Equal Opportunities Commission from 1996 to 2003. He was the chairman of the Executive Committee of Hong Kong Arts Festival Society Limited from 2003 to 2012.

On the academic side, Mr. Lee served on the Court of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University from 1995 to 2002, and the Council of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology from 1998 to 2004. He chaired the Council of the Open University of Hong Kong from 1998 to 2003 and 2004 to 2009 respectively and has since November 2013 been appointed the Pro Chancellor of the Open University of Hong Kong.

Mr. Lee also participates actively in community service. He assumed various positions in The Community Chest of Hong Kong at different times, including as its first Vice-President and the Executive Committee Chair of its Board of Directors. He remains today as the Vice-Patron, as well as the Campaign Committee co-chair of the organisation.

Mr. Lee also took time from his busy schedule to contribute to the work of his legal and accountancy profession. When the Law Society played host for the 5th Annual Conference of the Presidents of Law Associations in Asia in Hong Kong back in 1994, we had the honour of Mr. Lee, as the then-Chairman of the Stock Exchange, addressing our overseas delegates on the topic of “The Hong Kong Stock Market: In a China Dimension” on the opening day. He served on the Law Society’s Revision of Solicitors’ Accounts Rules Committee for about four years from 1978 to 1981. Mr. Lee also chaired the Audit Profession Reform Advisory Group of the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

He was appointed a Non-official Justice of the Peace in 1993 and an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in 1994. In 2000, he was awarded the Gold Bauhinia Star by the Hong Kong Government and the degree of Doctor of Laws honoris causa by The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. In 2001, he was also awarded the degree of Doctor of Business Administration by The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. He was thereafter awarded the degree of Doctor of Social Sciences Degree honoris causa by The Open University of Hong Kong and the University of Hong Kong in 2003 and 2005 respectively. In 2006, he was awarded the Grand Bauhinia medal.

Jurisdictions: 

Editor, Hong Kong Lawyer
Legal Media Group
Thomson Reuters
cynthia.claytor@thomsonreuters.com