Lawyers from Leeds visit, offer 'expertise at competitive rates'

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 November, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 November, 2007, 12:00am

A delegation of lawyers from Leeds, England, is in town as part of a marketing campaign to explore business opportunities with Hong Kong and mainland counterparts.

While it is common practice for Hong Kong lawyers to hire veteran legal minds from London to work on cases that are complex or have an international dimension, Leeds Legal, set up last year to promote the collective legal services of its city, argued its lawyers would provide services of equally high quality, and often at a lower cost than London lawyers.

The group, supported by the Leeds Law Society and Law Society of England and Wales, with the British government as one of its key sponsors, sent a delegation to Hong Kong earlier this year.

The delegates said they were returning to strengthen their network after having identified areas of opportunity they wanted to explore with their counterparts, highlighting intellectual property law as among the key areas.

'Leeds Legal is the first campaign of its kind anywhere in the United Kingdom. It is essentially to promote the level of service and expertise of lawyers in Leeds both nationally in the UK and overseas,' said Alan Baker, founding chairman of Leeds Legal, leading the delegation.

He said the group's member firms, who were all in competition with each other, had agreed to work together for the common good.

The 10-member delegation met solicitors from the Hong Kong Law Society on Monday and will be visiting individual local firms. They will also spend two days meeting lawyers in Hangzhou , Leeds' twin city.

James Love, a member of the delegation specialising in intellectual property law, said: 'Although the number of companies from China investing in the UK almost doubled in the last 12 months, figures show Chinese companies made only 100 patent applications directly in the UK over a similar period, which means that many are probably under-protected.'

In 1984, the top 10 firms listed on the London Stock Exchange had a combined market value of #40 billion (HK$639 billion). The equivalent value 20 years later is more than 10 times greater, according to Mr Love. 'This has been attributed almost entirely to the increase in knowledge capital - intellectual property. Worldwide revenues from patent licensing increased from #7.5 billion in 1990 to #55 billion in 2000,' he said.

Junius Ho Kwan-yiu, vice-president of the Law Society of Hong Kong, said the society was putting an increasing emphasis on training its lawyers in areas of international trade disputes, anti-dumping and anti-subsidies laws.