Policies promote better understanding of mainland's judicial development
The introduction of policies meant to improve the legal development of the Greater Bay Area can help Hong Kong legal professionals gain a better understanding of the mainland's legal and judicial systems by practicing law alongside their mainland counterparts, a top barrister in Hong Kong said.
In recent years, China has issued several policies to improve the legal development of the GBA.
In 2020, the country's top legislature announced that legal practitioners from the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions could become qualified to work in nine cities in Guangdong province after passing an exam. This plan was implemented on a trial basis, and two qualifying examinations have been held so far, with hundreds passing.
The decision by the National People's Congress Standing Committee was seen as a way to expand the role of Hong Kong and Macao professionals, and expedite the integration of the development of the rule of law in the GBA.
Winnie Tam Wan-chi, former chairwoman of the Hong Kong Bar Association, has kept a close eye on judicial protection on the mainland. Tam said she is impressed by and grateful for the inclusive culture of the legal profession in Guangdong.
As a specialist in the field of intellectual property, she said she appreciated the Guangzhou Intellectual Property Court's innovative, flexible method that it uses to deal with a rapidly growing number of disputes.
The court works with various mediation institutes so that mediators can intervene before trials, which has played a significant role in the speedy resolution of disputes, said Tam, who is also a member of the 14th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the country's top political advisory.
"I would like to pay a visit to the courts to see how they work in practice and whether litigants' interests are adequately protected," she said.
In her view, the use of both mediation and litigation to solve problems has been successful and should be used to resolve other kinds of civil disputes.
She said litigation service centers established by mainland courts should also serve as models for Hong Kong courts to help them improve their practices, as such centers provide assistance to civilians who are unfamiliar with the judicial process, giving them preliminary advice in filing cases in the correct manner, and even helping them solve disputes before they get to court.
"This is a genuine people-oriented community service provided by the courts. It's a judicial innovation," she added.
With the normalization of travel between the mainland and Hong Kong at the beginning of this year, she called for more mutual visits and face-to-face exchanges among legal professionals.
"During the COVID-19 pandemic, I continued teaching and sharing my experiences online with mainland agencies such as the Shenzhen Court of International Arbitration and the Shenzhen Lawyers Association," she said.
"However, as a barrister from Hong Kong, I felt that this sharing was a one-way street. It was difficult to elicit personal responses from those listening in, which made communication less effective. By having interactive communication in person, we can create better understanding and help each other grow."