Britain has warned of a legal vacuum after the handover if the status of existing laws remains unclear because of deadlock within the Joint Liaison Group. Chief British negotiator Hugh Davies said yesterday the adaptation of laws was fundamental to ensure a sound legal system beyond the handover. 'If we don't get a reasonably early announcement on the adaptation of laws, a lot of people involved in business and contracts are going to be concerned because they won't know what the position of law will be on July 1.' He said the lapse of laws at midnight on June 30 next year would result in a vacuum if there were no immediate replacements. 'The provisional legislature will not meet until July 1 next year. There's bound to be a gap that could be exploited,' Mr Davies said. He said the Chinese had yet to come up with concrete alternatives after rejecting Britain's 'midnight legislation' proposal. Under the proposal, amendments to existing laws, including replacing terms such as 'governor' with 'chief executive', could be agreed on before the handover, but only take effect afterwards. Mr Davies said the two sides were exploring other alternatives but no conclusion had been made. The Preparatory Committee has decided the provisional legislature will handle the adaptation of laws. But Mr Davies cast doubts on the status of laws passed by the provisional body. 'It's difficult to imagine how a non-legitimate body could take decisions having legal effect even if they say they will not come until after July 1,' he said. 'There will be questions in courts of how the laws have actually been passed. There can only be one legitimate Legco in this territory.' Mr Davies hoped the work of the JLG would benefit from the positive mood at the last plenum in London plus the 're-engagement at the top' between London and Beijing in recent months. 'With only 12 months left, the Chinese Government is only too aware of the importance of resolving these issues,' he said.