Participating in the Ceremonial Opening of the Legal Year in Hong Kong
The Japan Federation of Bar Associations (“JFBA”) participated in the “Ceremonial Opening of the Legal Year in Hong Kong,” an event hosted by the Judiciary of Hong Kong on January 9, 2012. Participants in the ceremony were not limited to bar associations from all over Mainland China, but included a number of delegations in Asia and Pacific regions, Europe, and the United States as well, indicating that the ceremony has developed into a large-scale event. The ceremony was held with the ready cooperation of the Hong Kong Bar Association (a barristers’ association) and the Law Society of Hong Kong (a solicitors’ association). The Law Society of Hong Kong handled all matters concerning the invitation of delegations from overseas.
Before the ceremony, delegations, including those from the JFBA, visited the Legislative Council (“Legco”) Complex, and the Hong Kong Independent Commission Against Corruption (“ICAC”), tours organized by the Law Society of Hong Kong. We were especially impressed by the video interview rooms equipped with full-scale advanced recording functions in the ICAC.
After lunch, Secretary General, Mr. Yuichi Kaido participated in the “President’s Roundtable” session in lieu of the JFBA President, Mr. Kenji Ustsunomiya. At the session, in view of one of the themes, “From Innovation to Harmonisation,” Mr. Junius Ho, President of the Law Society of Hong Kong briefly touched upon the concept of “One Country Two Systems;” referring to the two different legal systems successfully adopted in Hong Kong and Mainland China. He then continued to talk enthusiastically about the extension of this concept; the possibility of integrating the laws adopted in Hong Kong (a common law system) and those in Mainland China (a civil law system) into the Qianhai district, a Shenzehn special economic zone in the Mainland.
Then, Dr. Jorge Netco Valente, President of the Macao Lawyers Association explained the current status and difficulties they have been facing in relation to the legal system adopted in Macao under the concept of “One Country Two Systems.” Subsequently, as a last speaker, Mr. Justin Dowd, President of the Law Society of New South Wales, Australia, introduced cases of law firms that had gone public in their country. As of now, two law firms in Australia have been listed.
Various Opinions on Issues of the Integration of Different Legal Systems
Reflecting on all those presentations, Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Ewer, President of the German Bar Association, pointed out the difficulties of integrating different legal systems based on the experiences of the reunification of East and West Germany. Further, Mr. Axel C. Filges, President of the German Federal Bar (“BRAK”), a bar association which all attorneys in Germany are obligated to join, commented that there was no order of merit in between common law and civil law. However, he stressed the point that they were two individual systems, and expressed concerns over discussions entailing a rather positive (optimistic) view of the “integration” of different legal systems. In the background of Mr. Filges’s comments, there seemed to be a feeling of discomfort toward the issues of law firms going public.
Having participated in the session, while I have reaffirmed the value of Hong Kong to Mainland China in terms of democratization and the market economy, I had an impression that there was some uncertainty in evaluating the recent trend of those regions adopting the common law system.