Bar hopes to open Beijing offices

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 08 October, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 08 October, 2000, 12:00am

HONG KONG'S Bar Association will propose to Beijing officials in a meeting next week that it set up offices in three cities to help in the opening up of the mainland's legal system.

Ronny Tong Ka-wah SC, the Bar Association chairman, is leading a delegation on a five-day visit to Beijing next week, where it will meet officials from the State Council and Hong Kong, Macau Affairs Council.

The mainland has agreed to allow Hong Kong lawyers to practise there by advising on Hong Kong law in the run-up to China's impending accession to the World Trade Organisation.

This will be the first official visit by a group from the local Bar Association to Beijing, Mr Tong said, adding that the association would propose setting up offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou to facilitate the provision of legal services by Hong Kong barristers.

'In theory, we will be allowed to advise on Hong Kong law. However, practically you have to be hired first before you can offer legal advice. We are proposing to set up the contact points to relay more information to clients on the mainland,' he said.

The information could include the chamber's address and telephone numbers of Hong Kong barristers for clients on the mainland. Mr Tong said this would offer more protection for Hong Kong people involved in legal disputes in China.

'Though we do not have the right of audience in mainland courts, we can advise on the strategy,' he said. For example, in the case of a Hong Kong person involved in charges of conspiracy to defraud; if the conspiracy takes place in Hong Kong, the barristers can submit the viewpoint from the perspective of Hong Kong legislation as evidence in mainland courts.

However, whether the defendant would be tried in Hong Kong would depend on the arrangements currently being discussed by the mainland and Hong Kong.