Law Society of Hong Kong
Hong Kong’s legal system is based on common law principles and statute, and closely resembles the law of England and Wales. There are about 6, 500 Hong Kong qualified solicitors for a population of seven million.
Hong Kong’s highly competitive legal market is the the best served Asian market for legal services.
The Legal System
Hong Kong’s legal system is based on common law principles and statute and closely resembles the law of England and Wales.
The legal profession is made up of solicitors, regulated by the Law Society of Hong Kong, and barristers, regulated by Hong Kong’s Bar Association.
As in the UK, solicitors enjoy limited rights of audience in the Hong Kong courts. The higher courts are the High Court and the Court of Final Appeal.
Appeals are heard by the Chief Justice, three permanent judges and one other judge. English and Cantonese are used as official languages in legal matters. Hong Kong Basic Law, serves as the constitutional document of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) of the Peoples republic of China. Adopted in 1990, it came into effect on July 1 1997 when the this former colony of the United Kingdom was handed over to the PRC.
Basic Law details the rights, freedoms and duties of Hong Kong residents. These include the rights to:
- freedom of speech
- freedom of association
- join trade unions and strike
- freedom of movement
- freedom of conscience
- freedom of religious belief
Basic Law also guarantees that the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Labour Conventions as applied to Hong Kong remain in force. Basic Law also enshrines the principle of ‘one country, two systems’ which means that Hong Kong’s previous legal system will continue in place until 2047so long as it is not inconsistent with the Basic Law.
The Legal Profession
There are currently about 6, 500 practising Hong Kong solicitors and more than 700 firms in Hong Kong.
Of foreign lawyers practising in Hong Kong:
- almost 45% are from the US
- 22% are from England and Wales
- 10% are from China
- 8.5% are from Australia