Prague, one of the most beautiful cities in the world, is well known to most as a tourist attraction. Yet, as the economic activities between China and the Czech Republic increase, it will be useful to learn more about our counterparts there, in addition to the scenic spots.
China and the Czech Republic recently agreed to establish a China-Czech Strategic Partnership to foster cooperation and bilateral relations. The visit to the Czech Republic by President Xi at the end of March 2016 was his first trip to a Central and Eastern European (“CEE”) country since his presidency. During his visit, President Xi also witnessed the signing of agreements on bilateral cooperation covering a wide range of areas including e-commerce, investment, science and technology, tourism, culture and aviation.
With the bonding of the Strategic Partnership, the Czech Republic becomes a crucial economic partner of China in the Belt and Road Initiative in the CEE region.
The bilateral relationship between Hong Kong and the Czech Republic is also growing. In 2014, bilateral trade between the two places amounted to about €770 million. Major export items included telecommunications equipment and parts while import items included mainly electrical machinery and apparatus. Hong Kong also played a significant role in the trade between Mainland China and the Czech Republic, with about 7.9 percent of the trade between the two places routed through Hong Kong, amounting to about €660 million.
The Law Society has a long history of friendship with the Czech Bar Association. In May 2008, under the witness of Financial Secretary John Tsang in Prague, the Law Society signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Czech Bar Association, the first such agreement signed by the Law Society with a European counterpart.
The Czech Republic, like other CEE countries, adopts a civil law system and the legal profession is fused. There is only one single kind of lawyer called “advokát”. There are currently 12,385 lawyers. With a population of 10.52 million, there is one lawyer per approximately 850 people. There are also 3,468 trainee lawyers.
To be admitted as a Czech lawyer, a person must have obtained a university degree in law, have undergone professional training as a legal trainee for a minimum of three years and have passed the Bar examination.
Once admitted as a lawyer, he or she can practise on his or her own, as employees or partners in legal practices or corporations. According to the Czech Bar Association, to which I am most grateful for providing the valuable information, as of March 2016, 9,094 lawyers practise individually and the approximately remaining 2,000 active lawyers in legal practices or corporations. English is mostly accepted as a foreign language. The common practice areas for Czech lawyers include general legal practice, civil and criminal law, company and commercial law, cooperatives and tenancies.
(a) The annual registration of foreign lawyers and foreign firms expires on 30 June 2016 and the deadline for submission of applications for renewal falls on 15 May 2016.
(b) The Solicitors’ Accounts (Amendment) Rules 2012 will come into operation on 1 July 2016.