Kazakhstan – a bridge between Europe, Russia and Asia

The Law Society was honoured to have been invited to witness the official launch of the Astana International Financial Centre (“AIFC”) on 5 July. AIFC is a planned financial free zone located in Astana, Kazakhstan.

Kazakhstan is the world’s largest landlocked country with a population of about 18 million and vast mineral, oil and gas resources, generating about 60% of Central Asia’s GDP. It is also centrally located at the heart of the Belt and Road route and is certainly a place with vast potentials for further development.

The Law Society has taken the opportunity of the recent visit to Astana to reach out to our counterparts and various organisations there. The Law Society representatives, namely, Mr Amirali Nasir, Vice President, and Mr Michael Lintern-Smith, Past President, met with representatives from the Ministry of Justice, the Supreme Court, the AIFC Authority, the law faculty of a local university and the local bar associations. They also introduced Hong Kong’s "One Country, Two Systems" regime and shared information promoting Hong Kong as an international financial centre with a robust legal system and quality legal services.

AIFC is an interesting area that can offer opportunities for Hong Kong’s legal profession. AIFC operates within a special legal regime based on the principles of English laws, similar to the Hong Kong legal regime which is familiar to Hong Kong practitioners. The AIFC Court is independent in its activity and separable from the judicial system of Kazakhstan. It has exclusive jurisdiction over disputes arising out of the activities and operations of AIFC and over disputes transferred to the AIFC Court by consent among the parties concerned. The International Arbitration Centre (“IAC”) in AIFC provides an alternative to court litigation for resolving civil and commercial disputes. Arbitration awards of the IAC are enforceable in Kazakhstan as Orders of the AIFC Court as well as enforceable internationally under the New York Convention.

Our counterparts in Kazakhstan are keen to create a closer working relationship to explore future cooperation with the Hong Kong legal profession. The Law Society will actively explore further on how members can take advantage of the opportunities arising from the development there.

Mr Nasir and Mr Lintern-Smith attended the AIFC Law Conference.

AIFC Official Opening Ceremony.

Meeting with Mr Marat Aitenov, Deputy CEO of the AIFC Authority (first left) to share experience on how Hong Kong law developed under the “One Country, Two Systems” regime.