Friday, July 30, 2021

HKU Law Welcomes the Chair of Comparative and International Law, Professor Alec Stone Sweet

HKU Law Welcomes Professor Alec Stone Sweet who joins the Department of Law as the Chair of Comparative and International Law, working in the fields of comparative and international politics, comparative and international law, international arbitration and human rights. 
     Prior to moving to HKU, Alec was the Saw Swee Hock Centennial Professorship at NUS, and held chaired professorships at the Yale Law School and Nuffield College, Oxford. He has also held visiting appointments at the Columbia Law School, as well as in universities in Aix-en-Provence, Bologna, Florence, Hong Kong, Leiden, Madrid, Milan, Paris, Stockholm, Sydney, and Vienna.
     Alec has published thirteen books, ten with Oxford University Press, including the most recent: Proportionality Balancing and Constitutional Governance: A Comparative and Global Approach (2019); A Cosmopolitan Legal Order: Kant, Constitutional Justice, and the European Convention on Human Rights (2018); and The Evolution of International Arbitration: Judicialization, Governance, Legitimacy (2017). His current book project is a comparative analysis of regional human rights courts. A regular contributor to assorted American law reviews, he has also published articles in peer-reviewed journals, including the American Journal of Sociology, the American Political Science Review, Comparative Political Studies, the German Law Journal, the International Journal of Comparative Constitutional Law, the Journal of Common Market Studies, the Journal of Global Constitutionalism, the Journal of European Public Policy, the Journal of Law and Courts, and West European Politics.

Research Area
  • International Law and Politics
  • Comparative Law and Politics
  • International Arbitration
  • Human Rights

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Angela Zhang on Didi's Failure to Listen Forces Rewrite of Chinese Tech Listing Rules (Nikkei Asia/Opinion)

"Didi's failure to listen forces rewrite of Chinese tech listing rules"
Nikkei Asia/Opinion
Published on 9 July 2021
Introduction: When Jean Liu, the president of Didi Chuxing, was asked during an interview with Bloomberg Television why she had given up the Goldman Sachs managing director's role to join the ride-hailing giant, her reply was that she saw Didi's potential to make a "huge impact."
     She was right, of course, with Didi rising up to become one of the most highly valued tech companies in China. But there is another side to the story behind Didi's rise -- the huge impact Didi has had on the Chinese society also comes with huge regulatory risk. ... Click here to view the full text. 

*Angela Huyue Zhang is director of the Center for Chinese Law at the University of Hong Kong. She is author of "Chinese Antitrust Exceptionalism: How the Rise of China Challenges Global Regulation."

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Professor Richard Cullen presented at Hong Kong National Security Law 1st Anniversary Legal Forum by DOJ - "Comparative National Security Law: Australia and Singapore"

Professor Richard Cullen was honored to make a presentation at the Conference run by the DOJ to mark the first anniversary of the National Security Law.  

                          Hong Kong National Security Law 1st Anniversary Legal Forum




Richard Cullen 



Good afternoon distinguished guests and friends


Thank you, Professor Zhu, for the introduction.  And thank you to the Department of Justice for asking me to speak at this forum.


In an ideal world, there would be no need for National Security Laws.  We live in a wonderful world – but it is far from ideal.  We received a stunning reminder of this certainty in Hong Kong in 2019.  The insurrection, which grew out of a series of major protest marches, had established traction by early June in that year and it grimly continued for many subsequent months.


In the normal, real world, National Security Laws have been applied in various forms for centuries.  The Treason Act, for example, codified the Common Law offence of treason in England in 1351 during the reign of the Plantagenet King, Edward III. 


National Security Laws have grown significantly more detailed and complex over time.  Context matters.  After the 911 attacks in 2001 in America, there was a major lift in National Security legislating around the world – led by the US (though, until last year, there was no such lift in Hong Kong). 


Consequently, the scope of the matters to be discussed today is wide.  Accordingly, I plan to use my time:

·         To summarize key aspects of the Australian National Security Framework;.

·         To discuss, briefly, the National Security Framework in Singapore; and

·         To consider two relevant case studies illustrating the impact of these National Security regimes. 

Click here for more details of the forum: 

Book Review of Henry Litton's The Dance of Folly: Or How Theatrics have Tarnished the Rule of Law by Richard Cullen






((Kin Kwok, Hong Kong, 2021) 98 pages, HK$120) 


Richard Cullen 

Published at Pearls and Irritations Website in Australia

A series of acute points are made by Henry Litton in his new book, The Dance of Folly.  These typically pivot on his observations of how judges, across various courts in Hong Kong, have been drawn away – by lawyers - from what he argues is the essence of well-grounded, common law reasoning towards playing dubious games with legalized expressions and theory-based arguments.  The result is that dangerous stress has increasingly been placed on the operation of the One Country Two Systems (OCTS) framework, which governs the relationship between Hong Kong and China.  


Some will disagree with the central arguments made.  But where they do, most will still find themselves thinking deeply about what is being argued in this robustly readable work.


As I read the book, it prompted significant reflection – and a particular memory


Over four decades ago, as I was completing my LLB at the University of Melbourne, I began attending various courtrooms to see the law actually being applied.  Armed with my new legal-classroom understanding, I found I could follow what was going on.  Rather like when one learns the rules of football; watching any game afterwards becomes far more engaging.


On one occasion I was fortunate enough to happen upon a murder trial, in the Victorian Supreme Court, where the facts were exceptionally lurid.  The two accused, a wife and her lover (call them “X” and “Y”), were charged with murdering her husband (“A”).  The evidence showed that all were no strangers to the professionally criminal way of life.  Apart from myself, a number of X and Y family members were in court paying close attention.


The husband and wife, A and X, had a hilly countryside allotment in the well-timbered, modest mountains bordering Melbourne to the east.  By arrangement, Y had arrived one damp day, to coordinate with X in order to murder A.  Husband A was rendered unstable by a blow to the head and fell heavily.  Mr. Y then ran over A with his motor vehicle more than once.  Subsequently, X and Y, discovered that husband A was still drawing breath.  A small calibre rifle was fetched and Y shot A, finally killing him.


After all this was established, the barrister for Y, asked to lodge a new defence to the charge of murder.  To do this mid-trial is unusual.  The judge agreed to a voir dire (a separate hearing within the trial) to allow the barrister to make his application.  The jury was sent from the courtroom so they would not hear the argument unless the judge said it was admissible.


The barrister for Y then advised the judge that his client now wanted to plead self-defence.  The judge asked the barrister what the basis for this argument could possibly be.  The barrister explained that, although husband A was significantly injured prior to being shot, it must have been the case that he was also extremely angry with Y, by that stage, and thus, had he been able, he would certainly have been minded to kill Y and Y, thus, shot husband A dead in order to defend himself.  The judge shook his head slightly in what looked like disbelief and smartly told the barrister that this argument was improper and would not be allowed to be put to the jury.


I had heard how lawyers could argue that black was white, but here I saw that sort of ability applied in real life for the first time.


The judgments in the cases analyzed by Henry Litton do not involve vividly lethal facts to compare with those just outlined but they do rely on putting legal arguments to work, unfittingly in Litton’s view, in ways which have adversely shaped the operation of the common law system in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR).


Chapter 4 of this new book is entitled, “Do Judges Run Prisons?”  Henry Litton provides a withering review of a case involving certain personal hygiene and appearance procedures applied within prisons in Hong Kong.  


In March 2012, Leung, Kwok Hung was convicted of a criminal charge before a magistrate.   Leung was, for an extended period, a Member of the Legislative Council (LegCo).  He was widely known as “Long Hair” in recognition of the way he had worn his hair over many years.  After exhausting the appeal process, he commenced his sentence of four weeks in 2014.  His hair was cut short in accordance with long established prison regulations (page 39).  


After some indecision about appealing against this hair-cutting decision because it was discriminatory – women prisoners in separate prisons are not ordered to have short haircuts in the same way – Leung lodged an appeal to the High Court, which was heard in April and May, 2015.  A declaration was given in Leung’s favour in a 39 page judgment delivered 18 months later in late 2016.  The Court of Appeal (CA) reversed this outcome in another prolonged judgment in April 2018.  In November 2020, the Court of Final Appeal (CFA) overruled the CA and restored the original judgment, once more explaining why at length.  The entire process took over five years.  It transformed what Henry Litton powerfully argues was clearly (and justly) a matter best left to be decided (as it had been for many years) by the prison administration, into an immensely elongated discussion of equality rights, which now complicates custodial discipline measures (pages 39 – 49).  


He finds the outcome absurd.  He says the Judge at First Instance failed to accept his basic, judicial gate-keeping responsibility.  The judge should have stopped the original case from proceeding in the interests (inter alia) of good governance.  Subsequently, the disarray was compounded when the CFA failed in its leadership role by giving the procedural (access to judicial review) aspects of the case “not an ounce of thought”, simply following where it was led by counsel (page 50).


Litton concludes by observing that: “The judges, at all three levels of the courts, seem drawn to overseas case law as moths to a flame: apparently brushing aside the inconvenient truth that the common law system operates under the principle of One Country Two Systems.  Such a mind-set spells disaster in the long run.  It is not a formula for the long continuation of the common law in Hong Kong” (pages 50-51).


The book is conspicuously based on the penetrating analysis of a series of high profile cases – mostly cases seeking judicial review.  These include (apart from the case above) the court-based review of: the election of the former Chief Executive C. Y Leung (2012); procedures under the Complaints Against Police Ordinance (CAPO) and police identification (2020); the Face-Covering Case (2020); and a bail-procedural case related to the new National Security Law (NSL) in 2020 (chapters 1 to 8).


Litton perceives – and documents in detail – the clear failure in many such judgments to come to terms with the substantive factual evidence as they each detour into “forensic games” typically played by discussing abstracted interpretations of the Basic Law and most recently, the NSL, both of which are nationally enacted fundamental laws applying in the HKSAR (chapters 1 to 8).


He repeatedly notes the failure to stop improperly based applications for judicial review (many of which are publicly funded by legal aid) proceeding at all.  


The criticisms leveled are sharp but they are typically argued, step by step, with clarity.  In his analysis of the Face Covering Case, Litton makes one perceptive point after another (chapter 3).  At the outset he notes that judicial review is meant to aid those with a real grievance in the public law field and not “a mere agitator” (page 28).


Litton explains that all the applicants seeking a review of the new, emergency face-covering regulations (made under the Emergency Regulations Ordinance (ERO)) applied on October 5, 2019 by the HKSAR Government, were LegCo members, apart from one who was a former LegCo member.  Litton asks the question which the court did not: were the applicants “legislators or agitators”.  Why come to court – why not argue these matters within LegCo (which, as it happens, had largely been rendered non-functional by these same LegCo applicants).  Litton goes on: “Were the applications made in good faith – or were [the applicants] just pursuing a political agenda?”(pages 28-29)


In an extraordinary judgment, the two High Court Judges hearing the case at first instance declared that the ERO was unconstitutional and they also struck down most of the regulations, themselves.  This was a plainly dangerous on at least two levels.  First, it badly handicapped the Hong Kong Police who were in the midst of managing the most difficult crisis they had faced in decades: trying to bring an end to the immensely violent and destructive multi-month insurrection which began in June 2019.  Second, it openly challenged the fundamental constitutional role of the sovereign.  Beijing explicitly reviewed the laws of British Hong in February, 1997 and then adopted most of those laws, in general.  Next, a list was provided of particular laws which were not adopted because they contravened the Basic Law.  The ERO was not on this list.  The judgment also singularly failed to consider the vital nature of the public interest as an existential threat to the social and constitutional order of Hong Kong unfolded (see Cullen, Richard, “Ruling on mask ban a reminder of centrality of public interest”, China Daily, March 1, 2021).


The CA overturned the ERO declaration and restored most of the regulations.  Finally, the CFA dismissed every ground relied on by the applicants – restoring all the regulations.  By this time, the judgments, described in the book as a “carnival of words” ran to over 320 pages, in total.  Litton trenchantly notes that: “It should have been blindingly obvious that counsel’s arguments that the [ERO] was unconstitutional verged on the absurd.  Why was it given oxygen by the judges?”  He summarizes the final outcome in these words: “After so much huffing and puffing, what has been achieved?  The answer is zero, except to show how the law can be made ineffectual when the discipline is ignored” (page 32).


The book also includes a chapter that provides an overview of the new NSL (chapter 7).  Litton first outlines the history of the failed attempt by the HKSAR to enact new a National Security Law in 2003 pursuant to the requirement to do this spelled out in Article 23 of the Basic Law.  He then concisely summarizes the terrifying extent and impact of the lengthy 2019 insurgency and the paralyzing of LegCo.  He also notes how this massive dispute in Hong Kong was used, inter alia, as a means to advance geopolitical interests aligned against China.  In these circumstances, the need to upgrade national security protection became urgent (page 71).


In a paper written by Paul Harris, a leading Hong Kong Senior Counsel and now Chair of the Hong Kong Bar Association, it is said that NSL Article 43 (listing police powers), “goes far to create a police state”.  Litton says that this claim is a “gross exaggeration”.  He goes on to argue in detail and convincingly against this paper – and a related paper on the Joint Declaration by the same author (pages 77 – 85).


The concluding chapter deals with the “35 plus primaries” organized by the Pan-Democrat opposition in July 2020 (after the NSL was proclaimed) to prevent vote-splitting and to find the candidates most likely to be elected in the (then approaching) September, 2020 LegCo elections, who would use their LegCo powers to apply new constitutionally disruptive pressures on the HKSAR Government (chapter 9).  


Litton argues that what was sinister about this scheme was that it was designed “to implement a wider plot called “ten steps to mutual destruction” which had been outlined in a pro-democrat newspaper, Apple Daily on 28 April, 2020”.  He explains, convincingly, based on the outlined plan, that, if the 35 plus majority had been secured, the new legislators were committed to using their powers to create chaos (page94).


More recently, the author has written a related, influential article.  Published in early July, 2021, it reflects on the first year of operation of the NSL in the HKSAR.  It is entitled “A Close Run Thing” – drawing on a remark made by the Duke of Wellington after winning the Battle of Waterloo, against Napoleon, in 1815.  Litton states, definitively, that in 2019, “What Hong Kong faced was an insurgency, the overthrow of government, nothing less:” another close run thing.  In the conclusion to this article, he briskly notes how inadequately protected – compared to the NSL – potential defendants are under the measurably harsh text deployed within the US national security regime.  


This sort of clear comparative analysis provides one foundation which shows how repeated Western claims of freedoms being stifled in the HKSAR under the NSL are starkly and purposefully detached from reality.  Litton agrees with Mr C. H Tung that Hong Kong has been systematically used as a proxy within a wider power conflict.  


The central message of this book can be summarized as follows:

  • Hong Kong is inalienably and fundamentally part of China;
  • As the HKSAR, it enjoys remarkable special, constitutional, political, economic and social privileges and opportunities within China under the OCTS framework;


  • But it also owes deep obligations to China, under OCTS, to protect national security within the HKSAR and within China;


  • This obligation has been singularly amplified by the increasingly hostile efforts by the US (and heavily-encouraged-allies) to confront and contain the rise of China, which threatens American superpower hegemony more seriously than at any time since the end of World War II;


  • The key to maintaining OCTS so that it operates to the best advantage of Hong Kong through until 2047 and beyond, is building and sustaining a level of fundamental trust between Hong Kong and Beijing;


  • The Judiciary in the HKSAR is uniquely placed and has a special responsibility both to maintain the essential principles of the common law and to maintain that trust;


  • There have now been too many instances, within the judiciary, of a “carnival of words” unfolding where there is a lack of “focus on the true issues [while] forensic games [are] played with a  national law”;


  • This has led to an increase in mistrust of the HKSAR Judiciary in Beijing;


  • This is a grave current problem which needs to be addressed candidly and effectively.


Prior to the decision in the Face Covering Case, one might have argued that these concerns, though real, were rather strongly stated.  After that decision, however, it is hard to disagree with the basic tenor of where Henry Litton says we now find ourselves, judicially, and why – and why this has led to a measurable undermining of cross-border trust.  A central and difficult concern presents itself, which the judiciary in Hong Kong has to address.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Daisy Cheung on Bringing the Adult Guardianship Regime in Line with the UNCRPD: The Chinese Experience (International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family)

Abstract: This article examines the Chinese experience with adult guardianship, focusing in particular on the regimes in Hong Kong and China. As jurisdictions in which the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (‘UNCRPD’) applies, a key question is whether the adult guardianship regimes in these jurisdictions can be considered compliant with the principles of the UNCRPD, specifically those in Article 12. The adult guardianship regimes in both jurisdictions are in essence substitute decision-making regimes and are therefore not consistent with the interpretation of Article 12 by the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, or what is described as the ‘strong interpretation’ in this article. The question remains, however, as to whether they might be nonetheless considered compliant with what is described in this article as the ‘weak interpretation’. This article explores supported decision-making, the concept of capacity and the existence and sufficiency of safeguards in each of the two regimes, concluding that neither regime can be considered compliant even using the weak interpretation of Article 12. Reflections on the way forward are discussed.

Sunday, July 25, 2021

New Book: Hong Kong in China—Rethinking the Hong Kong–Mainland Relationship (in Chinese) (香港在中國—重新思考內地與香港關係) by Christine Loh and Richard Cullen

"Hong Kong in China—Rethinking the Hong Kong–Mainland Relationship (in Chinese)"
Author / Editor
著 陸恭蕙 (Ms Christine Loh) 高禮文 (Professor Richard Cullen) , 譯 魏磊傑
City University of Hong Kong Press
Published in 2021
Overview: It is over 20 years since British Hong Kong became the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Much has happened that is positive since 1997. At the same time there have been recurring political incidents and stand-offs which have produced a series of severe policy log-jams and bred anxiety among the people of Hong Kong. There is a belief that Hong Kong is “stuck” and unable to advance.
     Can the HKSAR see a positive future within China? We recently published a short book, with Abbreviated Press in Hong Kong, entitled, No Third Person: Rewriting the Hong Kong Story, to address this question (see: Available from the Book Depository: We felt there remained a need for a further, more thorough discussion about Hong Kong’s future. We have now published an extended online review of this key question entitled, Hong Kong in China with the IPP Review in Singapore (see: This translated version of Hong Kong in China is enabled by the generous agreement of Abbreviated Press and the IPP Review. (Sections within Hong Kong in China repeat text and arguments found in No Third Party.)
      The last British Governor of Hong Kong, Chris Patten noted, in 1996, that "The world should want China to succeed as it continues its brave economic revolution." We agreed with that view then and we agree with it today. In this work, serialized in three parts in the IPP Review, we explain why Hong Kong remains exceptionally well placed to continue to shape its own positive future, within China, just as it has done, with such remarkable success, in the past.
     Part 1 of Hong Kong in China provides a general introduction of the historical background of Hong Kong seen from British and Chinese perspectives over the last two centuries. It also explains the constitutional and legal structure of Hong Kong’s reversion to Chinese sovereignty and considers how this regime has operated when placed under stress. Part 2 sets out Hong Kong’s economic fundamentals and also reviews the geo-political stresses affecting the Hong Kong – mainland relationship. Part 3 investigates how Hong Kong can get unstuck and – building on this – how Hong Kong can construct its new narrative – the story of Hong Kong in China.
      We owe thanks to a range of people who have advised and commented on this work. These include, Professor Albert Chen and Professor Fu, Hualing from The University of Hong Kong and Professor Harry Glasbeek, Emeritus Professor, Osgoode Hall Law School, Toronto, Canada. We owe special thanks to Professor Wei Leijie and his team from Xiamen University in China who have undertaken this translation. The authors, alone, are responsible for all that is argued in this book and for any errors and omissions.

Preface by Professor Albert Chen.

Introduction of Preface: A "Post-National Security Law Era" Narrative for Hong Kong

What is "one country, two systems"? How should we understand the relationship between the "high degree of autonomy" of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), state sovereignty and the central authorities’ “comprehensive jurisdiction” over the HKSAR? What should be the identity of Hong Kong people? What kind of discourse or narrative should there be about the "Hong Kong Story"?  How should Hong Kong’s past be understood? What kind of future will Hong Kong have?  How could the path of "one country, two systems" proceed?

     In the "post-National Security Law era", this series of issues is more urgent than at any other time in history, and they are causing anxiety among many Hong Kong people. Although this book was written before the enactment of the HKSAR National Security Law, it has fleshed out these issues and provided preliminary answers to them.

      In fact, I believe that in the "post-National Security Law era", this book is more meaningful, valuable and enlightening to us than it was at the time of its writing.  The authors are Christine Loh and Richard Cullen.  Loh is a public figure in Hong Kong, having served as a member of the Hong Kong Legislative Council before and after reunification, and as Undersecretary for the Environment of the HKSAR Government.  Loh is also a scholar and has written many books. Cullen, from Australia, has taught at the School of Law of City University of Hong Kong for many years, and in recent years at the Faculty of Law of The University of Hong Kong. Both authors are intellectuals who have long lived in Hong Kong, served Hong Kong and love Hong Kong. This book is the culmination of years of their reflections on Hong Kong's situation under "one country, two systems", and on the "Hong Kong story". 

Praise from the Dean Professor Fu Hualing (in Chinese):

    香港大學 法律學院教授,院長

Saturday, July 24, 2021

New Book: Johannes Chan's Paths of Justice in Chinese translation << 眾裡尋她:公義在香港 >> with the Author's Notes

(Paths of Justice) in Chinese translation
陳文敏 (Johannes Chan) 著
HKU Press
Law, Hong Kong
June 2021
264 pp.

the Author's Notes: The English version has been very popular and has received many positive feedbacks and book reviews. It has taken the author Johannes Chan a few years to do the translation to publish the Chinese version so that it could reach an even wider readership in the community. As the author Johannes Chan translated it himself, he has the freedom not to be bound by the original text. Thus, some chapters have been updated; some chapters have been expanded to provide more background or explanation, and yet they try to preserve the legal arguments in the English version so as to give readers a good sense of how court cases are argued and how our courts deal with these matters. The author Johannes Chan has also replaced the original Chapter 14 by a new Chapter 14 as the original chapter may be too technical. The new chapter is about prison visit, which was a case taken up by our legal clinic.
      Margaret Ng translated the first draft of Chapters 17, 18, 19 and 21.
     There are too many updates and expansions throughout the book. More update is done in Chapter 1 (notably from pp. 19-22), which captured what happened since the publication of the English edition. Many other changes are due to the fact that English is a more concise language. When it is translated into Chinese, the author Johannes Chan finds it necessary to provide more explanation. In some cases, the author Johannes Chan just tried to re-write the original English version so that it may read better. Thus, the book is a lot more than just a translation. There are too many changes to be enumerated, as they appear in virtually every chapter.

Book Description in Chinese (with the Author's Biography): 



陳文敏為香港大學法律學院公法講座教授暨前院長(2002–2014),專研憲法、行政法和人權法,著作甚豐。他於2003年成為香港首位名譽資深大律師。2018年出版Paths of Justice 一書,為本書的英文版本。2020年以《正道、大學:寫在風雨之後》一書獲第13屆香港書獎。

Praises in Chinese:

「本書詳述了許多不同範疇的法律問題,提出了在閱讀相關法庭判決時難以領略的觀點。筆者也將抽象的法律原則以他的人生體驗深刻地人性化。」 ──梁定邦,QC,SC,JP,曾任高等法院暫委大法官

「本書透過說故事的形式探討法律問題,使讀者易於理解。書中的生動活潑法律場景,展現了不少備受尊崇的大律師的故事和香港法律的重要變遷。」 ──吳靄儀,大律師,前香港立法會議員

Friday, July 23, 2021

New Book by Shahla Ali: Forming Transnational Dispute Settlement Norms: Soft Law and the Role of UNCITRAL's Regional Centre for Asia and the Pacific (Edward Elgar Publishing)

Forming Transnational Dispute Settlement Norms:
Soft Law and the Role of UNCITRAL's Regional Centre for Asia and the Pacific
(Asian Commercial, Financial and Economic Law and Policy series)
Shahla Ali
Edward Elgar Publishing
Published on 25 May 2021
288 pp.
Description: This thought-provoking book examines whether regional centres associated with global legal institutions facilitate expanded citizen engagement in global soft law making. Through an analysis of empirical research into the role of decentralized soft law making in the East Asian region, it investigates the influence of such regional centres in overcoming representational deficits in the design of cross-border dispute settlement norms.


'Shahla Ali provides a richly detailed case study that illuminates how soft law is actually created and becomes effective. In doing so, she also shows how transnational dispute resolution norms are developed and how they become a form of legal regulation even in the absence of coercive enforcement power. Thus, this book is a must for scholars of global legal pluralism, practitioners of transnational dispute resolution, and all those interested in understanding in granular detail how international law is created and develops power over time.'

– Paul Schiff Berman, The George Washington University, US

'Shahla Ali's excellent new book on the role of UNCITRAL's Regional Centre for Asia and the Pacific in soft law-making shows the importance of rigorous, in-depth empirical analysis to test and support theoretical arguments calling for direct citizen participation to confirm the legitimacy of global norms.'

- Steven Wheatley, Lancaster University Law School, UK

'International commercial arbitration has long been subject to criticism for unequal access to and participation in shaping the rules and practices of this transnational legal order. Professor Ali's book breaks new ground on this key issue for the legitimacy of commercial arbitration by persuasively documenting a success story in broadening and deepening Asian state participation. The book shows that the success of UNCITRAL's International Trade Law Regional Centre for Asia and the Pacific may provide a model for other regions.'

- Bryant Garth, UCI Law, US and author of Dealing in Virtue

'This book leverages original data and novel methods to show convincingly how a regional soft lawmaking institution can overcome deliberative deficits, asymmetries in lawmaking influence, and failures to appropriate national and local creativity in global trade lawmaking. By imaginatively ''mapping the middle,'' Shahla Ali persuasively demonstrates the integral ways that a regional body can consolidate responsive transnational legal orders (TLOs) by harnessing state and non-state innovation and adaptations to diverse economic and legal contexts. In so doing Ali discovers new variants of TLOs and opens up exciting frontiers for research and theory.'

- Terence Halliday, American Bar Foundation, and co-author of Global Lawmakers: International Organizations in the Crafting of World Markets

'This study of the growing role of Asia-Pacific countries in the governance of international dispute resolution combines sophisticated treatments of the relevant legal instruments and theoretical literature with rigorous empirical analyses. It is impossible to ignore this evidence of decentralized transnational legal ordering and how it might be fostered by regional institutions.'

- Kevin E. Davis, NYU School of Law, US

'It is rare to have 5 years of our work performance scrutinized academically, and peer-reviewed. I cannot escape a sense of relief after reading this remarkable work by Professor Shahla Ali. Her work shows the importance of having more Regional Offices, not only of UNCITRAL, but, I dare to say, also of the HCCH and UNIDROIT. This book demonstrates how they are key enablers of legal reforms and relevant platforms to ensure equal access to legal knowledge. One of the possible conclusions reading this book, is that such work reduces non-tariff (sometimes invisible) trade barriers, and has tremendous side effects like levelling the playing field for practitioners and legal educators from parts of the world often meriting less attention and resources. For example, without such work, we would have never seen DPR Korea or Laos adopting the CISG and its core value: party autonomy. This book is indispensable for any one engaged with legal reforms based on international cooperation.'

- João Ribeiro-Bidaoui, Permanent Bureau of the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH) and UNCITRAL Regional Centre for Asia and the Pacific (2013-2018)

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Professional Law Books by HKU Faculty of Law

                       A list of Professional Law Books by HKU Faculty of Law has been showcased!

Congratulations to these PLE professional law book authors!

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Cedric Tang (PCLL 2021, JD 2020) on Liability for Dispensing Errors in Hong Kong (Asian Bioethics Review)

"Liability for Dispensing Errors in Hong Kong"
Cedric Tang (PCLL 2021, JD 2020)
Published on 28 May 2021
Abstract: The United Kingdom (UK) case R v Lee (2010) EWCA Crim 1404 resulted in a pharmacist being convicted for an inadvertent dispensing error and paved way for the decriminalisation of such errors by way of a due diligence defence enacted in 2018. In relation to Hong Kong (HK), what is its legal position for dispensing errors, and can it follow the decriminalising steps of UK? The primary objective of this paper is to explore whether and how HK can reach the normative position for a dispensing error legal regime: (1) I posit that the normative position for healthcare professional (HCP) liability for dispensing errors should prioritise the public interest of minimisation of future dispensing errors over the retribution of past wrongs; (2) I illustrate HK’s current position for the liabilities of HCPs on dispensing errors, focusing analysis on the relatively controversial aspects of HK’s criminal liability, referencing the landmark cases Hin Lin Yee v HKSAR (2009) 13 HKCFAR 142 and Kulemesin v HKSAR (2013) 16 HKCFAR 195 to assist my analysis of the requisite mental element for relevant statutory offences; (3) through comparison with UK’s development post-R v Lee and application of Rule of Law principles, HK’s current position is critiqued, coming to the conclusion that while there are compelling reasons for the decriminalisation of dispensing errors in HK, the prerequisite for this to happen is an overhaul of regulatory frameworks by significantly increasing levels of accountability.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Maisie Ooi on Choice of Law in the Shifting Sands of Securities Trading (new book chapter)

"Choice of Law in the Shifting Sands of Securities Trading"
Maisie Ooi
in A Conflict of Laws Companioned. by Andrew Dickinson and Edwin Peel, (Oxford University Press, June 2021), Chapter 8
Abstract: The author examines how the conflict of laws has approached the task of determining the law applicable to issues relating to securities, and whether that approach is suitable for determining the law applicable to the proprietary aspects of securities created or traded through the use of distributed ledger technology (DLT), including cryptosecurities, and other new forms of securities holding and trading.

Monday, July 19, 2021

CMEL Newsletter (June 2021)

The Centre for Medical Ethics and Law (CMEL) develops new ideas and solutions in response to the big ethical, legal and policy questions of medicine and health.

 CMEL is the first cross-faculty interdisciplinary institution of its kind in the region. It was founded in 2012 by the LKS Faculty of Medicine and Faculty of Law at The University of Hong Kong as a joint inheritor of their vibrant intellectual traditions dating back to 1887 and 1969 respectively.

 Today, CMEL brings together bioethicists, academic lawyers, medical scientists, and other scholars to conduct cutting edge bioethical and legal research and contribute to policy development in flagship areas like population and global health, mental health and capacity, and digital health and emergent technologies.

 Research, teaching and knowledge exchange—CMEL’s core initiatives—aim to ensure that developments in biomedicine and public health will be underpinned by ethical and legal considerations.

To view the latest newsletter, click: CMEL June 2021 Newsletter.

Highlights of the June newsletter:
  • New WHO Guidance on Artificial Intelligence for Health
  • When learning is continuous
  • The constitutional determinants of Planetary Health
  • Regulation of e-commerce platforms and strict product liability
  • Perspective from a Forensic Pathologist and expert witness in court
  • Youth vaccination
  • Ethical controversies over vaccination incentives
  • Prospect of returning to normality despite continuing COVID-19 concerns
  • Artificial Intelligence in healthcare and COVID-19 prevention poses challenges to privacy in Taiwan
  • Drugs giant reached US$230M settlement agreement for opioids lawsuit in the US

If you would like to take a look at past issues, please visit

CMEL Newsletter (May 2021)

CMEL is established jointly by the Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine and the Faculty of Law at the University of Hong Kong. Its primary vision is:

  • to become a focal point for international research excellence in the area of medical ethics and law;
  • to co-ordinate and provide teaching and training to university students and professionals;
  • and to promote and disseminate its expertise to the benefit of the public.
The Centre’s objectives are to promote excellence in the fields of research, teaching, knowledge exchange and professional training. The Centre will collaborate, as appropriate, with institutions, professional bodies and scholars in Hong Kong and internationally in order to pursue these objectives. CMEL has recently issued the latest newsletter. To view click: CMEL May 2021 Newsletter.

Highlights of the May newsletter:

  • Farewell and welcome
  • Recent publications
  • Impact of "vaccine bubble" on unvaccinated employees
  • Incentivising vaccination and the Hong Kong – Singapore Travel Bubble
  • Transparency in COVID-19 vaccine indemnity fund applications
  • Doctors acquitted of charges arising from referral of patients to private clinic
  • Government unveils proposed scheme to create a new pathway for non-locally trained doctors to practise in Hong Kong
  • Past Event: Seminar on genomics for health (in English only)
  • Upcoming Event (also in English only)

CMEL Newsletter (April 2021)

CMEL is established jointly by the Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine and the Faculty of Law at the University of Hong Kong. Its primary vision is:

  • to become a focal point for international research excellence in the area of medical ethics and law;
  • to co-ordinate and provide teaching and training to university students and professionals;
  • and to promote and disseminate its expertise to the benefit of the public.
The Centre’s objectives are to promote excellence in the fields of research, teaching, knowledge exchange and professional training. The Centre will collaborate, as appropriate, with institutions, professional bodies and scholars in Hong Kong and internationally in order to pursue these objectives. CMEL has recently issued the latest newsletter. To view click: CMEL April 2021 Newsletter.

Highlights of the April newsletter:

  1. Vaccine Bubble & Injury Compensation
  2. (Webinar) Gross Negligence Manslaughter: Should it apply to healthcare practitioners?
  3. Controversy over "vaccine passports" for international travel
  4. New Zealand’s plan to ban sale of tobacco to the new generation
  5. Recent publications
  6. Book launch of Mad by the Millions: Mental Disorders and the Early Years of the World Health Organization

Sunday, July 18, 2021

AIIFL Newsletter Issue 5 (June 2021)

In this AIIFL News, we highlight a range of publications and activities from the AIIFL team as well as introducing the new AIIFL website.
      Over the past year, the role of digital communications and interactions has increased dramatically, including here at AIIFL. We have thus taken the opportunity to refocus our efforts and digital reach, not only with this new website but with an increasing range of online events and expansion of our communications channels, including LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.
     Taking adventure of this, I would like to share with you a photo for our first online meeting with the AIIFL Academic Advisory Board (AAB) and Professional Advisory Board (PAB) on 28th June 2021 attended by (from top left to right): Professor George Walker (AAB), Professor Douglas Arner (AIIFL Director), Yong Kai Wong (PAB), Kenneth Ng (PAB), Jeffrey Chen (PAB), Stefan Gannon (Vice Chairman, PAB), Evan Gibson (AIIFL Research), Professor Charles Booth (Vice Chairman, AAB), Professor Mark Roe (AAB), Professor Mads Andenas (AAB), Hon Mr Justice William Blair (AAB), Professor Ruth Plato-Shinar (AAB), Professor Steven Schwarcz (AAB), Professor Ian Ramsay (AAB), Dr Michael Taylor (AAB), Dr Arthur McInnis (AAB), Martin Lister (PAB), Sou Chiam (PAB), Professor Benjamin Geva (AAB), Professor Rolf H. Weber (AAB), Professor Sarah Worthington (AAB), Flora Leung (AIIFL Secretary), Susie Cheung (PAB), Mohan Datwani (PAB), and Yun Zhao (Board of Management).  Professor Richard Cullen (Board of Management), Professor John Lowry (AAB) and Professor Dan Prentice (AAB) are not visible but present.

The 2019-2020 academic year was the twentieth anniversary of AIIFL.  While we were unable to hold live events in Hong Kong, we did take the opportunity to take stock of our performance over the past 20 years, summarised in the 2019-2020 AIIFL Annual Report for AIIFL’s 20th Anniversary.  During that period AIIFL and its Fellows have had impressive output, impact and reach.

My current term as Director of AIIFL will finish at the end of June and I would especially like to take the opportunity to thank you for your continuing support to the Institute and welcome Dr Emily Lee as AIIFL Director from 1 July 2021.  I would very much like to thank the entire AIIFL team, particularly Flora Leung (without whom nothing here happens) and Evan Gibson (AIIFL Assistant Research Officer), picture left.


I may be reached anytime via email ( or via LinkedIn.

Douglas Arner

AIIFL Director
(2003-2011, 2019-2021)


New AIIFL Website

The new AIIFL website ( highlights the key themes and issues driving global finance today: regulation, technology, sustainability, globalisation, fragmentation. 
     There are a range of short videos across the site, with the co-founders of AIIFL as well as the Convenors of the Research Programmes, sharing the history of the Institute as well as our strategic research directions.  We hope that the new website is useful and informative.

UN Dialogue on Global Digital Finance Governance

The first set of reports from the UN Dialogue on Global Digital Finance Governance has been launched. A team from AIIFL including Sangita Gazi, Kuzi Charamba, Artem Sergeev and Douglas Arner along with Dirk Zetzsche (University of Luxembourg) and Ross Buckley (UNSW Australia) has worked closely with the Dialogue over the past year, including leading on 3 of the 8 of the reports:

Summary Paper: BigFintechs and Sustainability: A Necessary Convergence

Technical Paper 1.1: BigFintechs and their impacts on sustainable development

Technical Paper 1.1B: BigFintechs and their impacts on macroeconomic policies

Technical Paper 1.2: Digital currencies and CBDC impacts on Least Developed Countries

Technical Paper 2.1: BigFintechs and the UN SDGs: the role of corporate governance innovations

Technical Paper 3.1: Policymakers, BigFintechs and the United Nations SDGs

Technical Paper 3.2: BigFintechs and international governance, policymaking and the UN SDGs: the SDGs in the international governance of finance

Technical Paper 3.3: A principles-based approach to the governance of BigFintech

All papers are available HERE.

 Looking Back Looking Forward: Regulatory Technology After COVID-19

In the episode 4 of Looking Back Looking Forward, Douglas Arner discusses the implications of COVID-19 for RegTech and SupTech: the use of technology for regulatory and supervisory purposes. Non-face-to-face interactions due to lockdowns and other COVID-19 measures have allowed the pursuance of digital reporting and analytics to not only create efficiency but also achieve regulatory and supervisory objectives for financial systems to support sustainable development more broadly.

Watch it HERE

All the episodes of Looking Back Looking forward are available at FinTech Videos Library of the HKU FinTech website.


Hong Kong's Housing Crisis - An Underlying Factor in the 2019 Riots

Richard Cullen

The Cost of Ambition: Biden's Plan to Rebuild the American Dream Sidesteps Concerns Over Its Huge Price Tag

Richard Cullen

LITE (Law, Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship) Lab is using digital tools to increase access to justice, help start-ups navigate legal affairs, and train students in legal technology

Brian Tang


LITE (Law, Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship) Lab students as Project Team of ProperT was selected as the InnoShow award winner at the 4th Engineering InnoShow for a computer vision tool to assist low income tenants protect against health and safety hazards.

Syren Johnstone appointed as one of the Curators who act as the Managing Editors of the RegTrax repository.  The Curators are recognized experts in their jurisdictions, and oversee the information that’s being added to ensure accuracy. They are charged with reviewing the research done by its network of contributors (as well as any regulations offered from the public), and ensuring the accuracy of the regulation, source, and conclusions.

LITE Lab students nominated for Financial Times Innovative Lawyer Collaborative Lawyer Award on Wanted: Role Models for Solving Legal Problems Together


FRT Episode 98: The Platformization of Finance

Douglas Arner discussed with Brad Carr the experiences with China’s FinTech platforms.

Interview on the Future of Legal

Innovation in Asia

Press Release on Covid-19 Catalysing

the Rapid Growth of Asia Pacific

Regtech Sector

 Brian Tang

Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC)

Part 2

Douglas Arnershared his views on

Libra’s challenges to world currencies

Rethinking Economics NL for Interview-Series on Economy of 21st Century

Douglas Arner, Dan Azzi and Navroop Sahdev discussed finance and complexity theory in the 21st Century


Upcoming Events 

13 July 2021

Chen Lin will present Financial Volatility and Digital Finance at the HKU-SCF FinTech Academy’s Research Seminar Series       Details

30 June 2021

Brian Tang presents Unlocking the Power of Regtech at the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA)      Details

Giuliano G. Castellano presented Secured Lending: Coordinating Law Reforms and Regulatory Policies at the European Central Bank (ECB) on 23 June 2021. The discussion was based on his research recently published on “Commercial Law Intersections” as well as on his contribution to the activities of the International Finance Corporation (IFC) of the World Bank Group.

Douglas Arner presented at the Symposium on Technology and New Finance in the Digital Era on 25 May 2021        Watch it HERE

Douglas Arner presented at Regulation of AI in the financial sector: crossed perspectives in Asia and Europe on 17 May 2021

Papers and Video are available HERE

Syren Johnstone on Asia Segment on Cryptoassets at the Stanford Law School in April 2021      Watch it HERE

Member of the AIIFL Professional Advisory Board and Partner of Dentons Hong Kong, Jeffrey H. Chen, presented a webinar "Anatomy of Structured Products" on 14 October 2020       Watch it HERE

Brian Tang on behalf of the LITE (Law, Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship) Lab presented at the 2021 Global Law Lab Showcase & Meetup on 12 May 2021

Brian Tang on LegalTech Innovation Conference with fellow authors of The LEGALTECH Book on “Global Business of LegalTech: Founder’s Perspectives” on 13 May 2021        Watch it HERE

Brian Tang served as Judge and Speaker on Hong Kong Startups Meet MNCs – LegalTech organised by American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong on 6 May 2021


We are seeking to expand our world leading team in the area of FinTech, RegTech and Digital Finance.

Post-Doctoral Fellow in Finance, Technology and Regulation

Applications close: 31 July 2021, HK Time

More details and online application are available HERE


Research Assistant Professor in FinTech / RegTech

Applications close: 30 June 2021, HK Time

More details and online application are available HERE

The HKU-Standard Chartered Foundation FinTech Academy, with the aim to cultivate interdisciplinary research in FinTech, has established a Research Assistant Professor Scheme.