Hong Kong's sound legal and judicial system is an important reason for the city's economic success and social stability, Huo Min, vice-president of the Guangdong Higher People's Court, said after attending a four-week legal programme at a local university. Speaking at the closing ceremony for the Advanced Programme for Chinese Senior Judges, Mr Huo said that he was impressed with the way the city's judicial personnel adhered to the rule of law. The advanced programme was organised by City University's School of Law in collaboration with the National Judges College of the Supreme People's Court of the People's Republic of China. The course, which started on May 26 and ended yesterday, introduced 28 senior judges from various mainland cities and provinces to the common law system and key international legal concepts. Participants visited legal enforcement and judicial organisations and attended video-link lessons from Columbia University's School of Law. 'This [programme] is not simply an academic exchange,' said Justice Wang Xiuhong, a member of the judicial committee of the Supreme People's Court. 'Most importantly, it allows judges in Hong Kong and China to better understand and respect each other's political and economic culture.' Kuo Way of City University said that the programme had also benefited Hong Kong's legal development because local practitioners had been able to learn directly from mainland judges how mediation occurred on the mainland. 'We are just beginning to develop such a system in Hong Kong,' he said, explaining that mediation was different from the adversarial approach used in litigation locally, in that it allowed disputes to be resolved quicker and more harmoniously. Professor Kuo said that a similar course would be held later this year, and the plan was to organise two programmes each year for senior Chinese judges. Elaine Lo, a senior partner with Mayer Brown JSM, the law firm that sponsored the programme, said it would be helpful to Hong Kong firms involved in litigation or arbitration in the mainland if mainland judges had a better understanding of the city's legal and judicial system. The advanced programme had served that purpose well, she said.