Wong speaks up for mediation law

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 12 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 12 May, 2012, 12:00am


Secretary for Justice Wong Yan-lung hopes Legco can still pass a bill to create a statutory framework for mediation - an alternative to court action to settle disputes - despite delays caused by lawmakers' filibuster of a contentious bill on by-elections.

Mediation involves a qualified independent mediator helping parties to a legal dispute to settle it without resorting to court action.

The legislation, the Mediation Bill, addresses such areas as confidentiality and admissibility as evidence of communications made during mediation.

There are fears the filibustering in the Legislative Council could stall the passage of at least 10 government bills. If Legco doesn't pass a bill before its term ends in July, the legislation dies. If the new administration under Leung Chun-ying wishes to revive a bill, it will have to go through the entire legislative process a second time once the chamber to be elected in September begins its term.

Wong was speaking on the sidelines of a conference yesterday on mediation, at which he and barrister Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung officiated. Yuen has been widely tipped to succeed Wong.

Asked if he might serve another term should the bill not be passed, Wong said: 'We will strive to ensure that the second reading [of the bill] can be resumed, as the bill is very important to Hong Kong.'

Should it be delayed, he said: 'We all think it should be legislated sooner or later.'

Neither Wong nor Yuen would comment about their future plans, though There has been speculation Wong will leave government when his term ends on June 30.

Yuen, a former Bar Association chairman, said Wong had long maintained good co-operation with various sectors. He made the remark after being asked if he had good working ties with Wong in the government-appointed Mediation Task Force, of which both are members.

At least two ministers have indicated or implied they will leave government when the current administration's term ends.

On Sunday, Chief Secretary Stephen Lam Sui-lung said he would end his 34 years in government and take a one-year course in theological and pastoral studies in Britain.

On Tuesday, Secretary for Transport and Housing Eva Cheng quoted a Chinese poem that says 'the clouds are in the blue sky and water is in the bottle', meaning people have different roles at different times. She also said she always put her family first.


The approximate number of mediators in Hong Kong, from a variety of professions