The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge is a landmark project of the Greater Bay Area development. [Photo by Wang Jiaxin/For China Daily]
Hong Kong legal practitioners and Macao's practicing lawyers can work as attorneys in nine cities of Guangdong province on a trial basis after acquiring the mainland's legal practice qualifications, in a decision adopted by China's top legislature announced on Tuesday.
The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress passed the decision to authorize the State Council to design and carry out the three-year pilot program in the cities of Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Foshan, Huizhou, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Jiangmen and Zhaoqing. All of the cities are in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.
The decision is part of the implementation of the outline development plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and the service trade agreements between the mainland and Hong Kong and Macao that were revised in 2019, according to the NPC Standing Committee.
The decision is also seen as a way to improve development of the Greater Bay Area and expand the professional role of legal practitioners from Hong Kong and practicing lawyers from Macao.
Eliza Chan, a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and also a solicitor from the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, welcomed the decision, saying the Greater Bay Area will offer big opportunities for Hong Kong's legal practitioners.
It will allow Hong Kong practitioners to expand their business beyond the SAR, which is especially important in difficult economic times, she said, adding that legal professionals will also get a better understanding of the mainland's legal system through passing its qualification exam.
"The program will help raise standards and diversify the legal profession within the mainland itself, and experienced Hong Kong legal practitioners who qualify as mainland lawyers will also support the growing demand for cross-border legal services" in the Greater Bay Area, she said.
Liu Dexue, director of the Legal Affairs Bureau of the Macao SAR government, also lauded the decision, saying it is good to build a more effective, convenient, transparent and law-based business environment to promote the Greater Bay Area's development in economy and legal services.
Allowing Hong Kong practitioners and Macao lawyers to practice in the Greater Bay Area is not only to help meet litigants' demand in market entry, investments and social exchanges, "but also to improve communication among legal practitioners from the three areas," he added.
In November 2019, the mainland and Hong Kong signed a revised agreement on establishing closer economic and trade relations. It states measures should be taken in various service industries, including the law and construction and film industries.