The Law Society Council pays courtesy visits to various authorities and organisations in Beijing every year, in order to exchange views with Mainland officials on issues that concern the Hong Kong legal profession. This year, led by President Melissa Pang, 15 Council members visited Beijing from 8 to 9 April and had meetings with representatives from the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, the National Supervisory Commission of the PRC, the Hong Kong Basic Law Committee, the Ministry of Justice, the All China Lawyers Association and the Supreme People’s Court. The delegation also visited the Beijing Internet Court.
One of the major topics at the meetings was enhancing the role of Hong Kong lawyers in the development of the Belt and Road Initiative and the Greater Bay Area. Council members made a number of recommendations to relevant authorities, including a relaxation on the thresholds governing the establishment of partnership associations between the Mainland and Hong Kong law firms, as well as the relaxation of the restriction on a Hong Kong lawyer to engage as legal consultant by only one Mainland law firm. They also urged the authorities to consider setting up a special examination similar to Hong Kong’s Overseas Lawyers Qualification Examination to incentivise more Hong Kong lawyers to take the examination and acquire Mainland legal qualifications. This suggestion could strengthen the talent pool and meet the increasing demand for cross-jurisdictional legal services in the Mainland. The recommendations received positive feedback from relevant Mainland authorities.
In addition, the Council also expressed its views on issues, including the society’s concerns over the Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill, and worries over the media coverage on the arrests of human rights lawyers in the Mainland.
Council members visited the Supreme People’s Court.
The delegation was received by Mr Zhang Xiaoming, Director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council.