Sunday, March 24, 2019

New Book: Mediation and ADR Confidentiality in Hong Kong (Gary Meggitt)

Mediation and ADR Confidentiality in Hong Kong
Wildy, Simmonds and Hill Publishing
March 2019, 288 pp
Description: It is generally accepted in Hong Kong and many other jurisdictions that mediation is ‘confidential’. This book examines the three non-statutory components of mediation confidentiality in Hong Kong:-
  • contractual or equitable confidentiality;
  • the without prejudice doctrine;
  • and legal professional privilege – together with the Hong Kong Mediation Ordinance.  
This study looks at the protection which each of the components and the Ordinance affords to the participants in mediation and the deficiencies in the same.
     The author argues that the justification for a specific mediation confidentiality may be found in the very nature and philosophy of mediation itself and, in particular, its distinctive empowerment of the parties and its independence from the litigation process. It is contended that, to the extent that they share these qualities, other forms of ADR should be similarly protected.
    This book will interest and be useful to academics, students and legal practitioners interested in mediation and ADR in Hong Kong and elsewhere. The thesis upon which this book is based was awarded the University of Hong Kong’s prestigious Li Ka Shing Prize.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Amanda Whitfort Interviewed on Pangolins: The World’s Most Trafficked Mammals Slipping Into Extinction (Earth.Org)

"Pangolins: The World’s Most Trafficked Mammals Slipping Into Extinction"
Samantha Topp
25 Feb 2019
For most of us the thought of wildlife crime brings to mind ivory and rhino horns, yet in reality the most trafficked mammal in the world remains relatively unknown. An animal ranging from the size of a common house cat to a medium sized dog, but covered in hundreds of scales and found only in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa: the pangolin ...
     Associate Professor at Hong Kong University (HKU) Amanda Whitfort explains that all eight species of pangolin are in high demand for traditional Chinese medicine in China. “Hong Kong is the fifth busiest container port in the world and only about 1% of our containers are inspected. Given the low risk of detection it is not surprising that we are used by traffickers seeking an easy gateway to China.”
      Currently, wildlife trafficking offences are listed under legislation aimed to protect endangered species of animals and plants in Hong Kong: Cap.586. However, many have pushed for it to be now listed as under the Organised and Serious Crime Ordinance (OSCO). Whitfort says that this legislation change would allow investigators to use more coercive powers when investigating wildlife crime operations.
     Alexandra Andersson, founder of the conservation group Hong Kong for Pangolins, also stresses the importance of listing wildlife offences under OSCO, saying that the Hong Kong government needs to “increase associated penalties, close various loopholes in the law, and work with forensic scientists to develop tools to detect laundering.”
     In traditional Chinese medicine, some practitioners prescribe pangolin scales to cure ailments from rheumatism, soreness and itchiness to cancer and impotence. However, activists like Andersson argue that scales are proven to be made of keratin, the substance of human fingernails.
     In 2008 a global NGO focused on illegal wildlife trade, TRAFFIC, found that pangolin scale alternatives include Wang Bu Lui Xing (Vaccaraie semen) and dried seeds of cowherb (Vaccaria segetalis). Within the study it was found that the medicinal effects of both alternatives were classed as being equally as effective as pangolin scales.
     Whitfort says that many traditional Chinese medicine practitioners publicly support the use of alternatives to endangered species, though it is evident that pangolin products are still in high demand both for its scales and its meat. “No species should go extinct for traditional Chinese medicine,” says Whitfort. ...“Eventually we will have the correct laws,” Whitfort says. “Unfortunately, for some species, those laws will come too late.”  Click here to read the full text. 

Thursday, March 21, 2019

HKU Class of 2018 Law PhD Graduates

Congratulations to our 12 PhD graduates who had their degrees conferred upon them at the 200th Congregation on 30 November 2018 at the University of Hong Kong. The newest members of our RPg alumnae family include the following:

1. Dr. AMESHEVA Inna Ilieva, Unravelling Differential Treatment: From Coexistence to Cooperation in International Climate Change Law. Supervisor: Dr James Fry

3. Dr. CHONG Agnes, The Non-Hierarchical Norms of No-Harm and PhD Equitable Utilization in International Watercourses Law. Supervisor: Dr James Fry

4. Dr. FEI Mengtian, An Analysis of Modernization and Law concerning Same-sex Sexuality in China.  Supervisor: Mr Benny Tai

5. Dr. LEJOT Paul Louis, The Place of Law Legal and Regulatory Influences on Financial Sector Agglomeration. Supervisor: Professor Douglas Arner

6. Dr. LONG Jie, China's Space Station in Light of Long-term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities: Cooperation, Law, Reality and Potential. Supervisor: Professor Yun Zhao

7. Dr. REPOUSIS Odysseas, The Rise of Multilateral Investment Treaties: International Investment Law Between Codification and Progressive Development. Supervisor: Dr James Fry

8. Dr. RUANGSAWASDI Chernporn, The Virtue-Based Paradigm of Judgment in the World of Investment Disputes.  Supervisor: Professor Hualing Fu

9. Dr. SPINA ALI Gabriele, Article 39(3) TRIPS: Understanding the Obligations, Exploiting the Flexibilities.  Supervisor: Ms Alice Lee

10. Dr. WEST Michael John, Federal Frontiers: the Constitution of Hunan Province in 1920s Republican China.  Supervisor: Professor Hualing Fu

11. Dr. ZHANG Xiaohan, The Application of the Consumer Protection Principle in the UNCITRAL ODR Rules and Its Implications for the ODR Practice in China. Supervisor: Professor Yun Zhao

12. Dr. ZUO Anlei, Institutional Fragmentation of International Intellectual Property Law in a World Society: Ontological Ethos, Structural Biases and Regime Interaction.  Supervisor: Dr. Li Yahong

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Guanghua Yu on Open Access Order and Interconnected Institutions in Brazil (Law & Development Rev)

"Open Access Order and Interconnected Institutions in Brazil: A Challenge"
Guanghua Yu
Law and Development Review
Published Online: 2018-05-10
This article examines the evolution of democratic practice in Brazil. The article begins with a discussion on the country’s performance in terms of social equality, violence, and weak economy after the consolidation of democracy in 1985. Based on historical evidence, the article offers explanations concerning the weak performance in Brazil. The case of Brazil provides a challenge to the theory of open access order of North and his colleagues in the sense that open access to political organizations and activities does not necessarily lead to either better political representation or better economic performance. The case of Brazil also shows that open access to economic organizations and activities in the absence of the necessary institutions in the areas of property rights protection and contract enforcement, the financial market, the rule of law, and human resources accumulation does not lead to long-term economic growth.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Hualing Fu on Social Organization of Rights: From Rhetoric to Reality (UCLA Pacific Basin Law Journal)

"Social Organization of Rights: From Rhetoric to Reality"
Hualing Fu
UCLA Pacific Basin Law Journal
2019, Volume 36, Issue 1
Abstract: Public interest litigation (PIL) is a form of socio-legal activism. PIL originated in the United States, and spread, through the aggressive promotion of U.S.-centric rule of law, to China, where it has had a significant impact on socio-legal activism since the 1990s. This Article explores both the process through which human rights discourse is translated into practice by activist lawyers and human rights defenders, as well as the circumstances that cause socio-legal mobilization to fail or succeed. This Article examines the collective and sustained endeavour by human rights lawyers and other activists to advocate for the rights of specific communities through a rights complex, composed of activist lawyers, NGO leaders, and citizen journalists, as well as supporters within state institutions, Chinese society, and the international community. This Article looks at the institutionalized manner through which legal cases facilitate socio-legal mobilization to serve the broader objectives of educating citizens, enhancing the capacity of civil society, and making the government more accountable and responsive. The principal argument is that once citizens are endowed with legal rights and institutions are put in place for their implementation, the remaining issue is raising rights-awareness among rights-bearing citizens and generate demand for rights in society and channel those rights to institutions. Lawyers and other rights defenders play an indispensable bridging function in translating rhetoric to practice.

Monday, March 18, 2019

David Law Interviewed on Huawei’s Lawsuit Against the US Government (VoA)

"China's Huawei Sues US Government Over Ban"
Bill Ide & Joyce Huang
Voice of America
7 March 2019
Chinese tech giant Huawei has sued the U.S. government, arguing that legislation Congress passed last year restricting its business in the United States is "unconstitutional."
     The case, which analysts see more as a public relations move, is the latest in an intensifying effort by the telecommunications company to fight U.S. security concerns that Huawei argues are unfair and unfounded.
     In its lawsuit, Huawei argues that Section 889 of the National Defense Authorization Act violates the constitutional principles of separation of powers and due process. By singling out the company and punishing it without a trial, the company also argues that the law violates the Constitution's the bill of attainder clause...
     Legal analysts said it is unlikely the case will even go to trial. "As a PR matter, this is brilliant, the fact that we are just talking about this now, tells you this is a great PR move, as a legal matter, this is a reach, to put it charitably," said law professor David Law of Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Hong Kong. "I just can't see how a federal district judge in Texas is going to let this go to trial much less hand Huawei a win."...

Sunday, March 17, 2019

HKU Team Wins Hong Kong Regional Jessup Round 2019

For the third consecutive year, the HKU Jessup Team won the Regional Champion title in the 60th Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition on 29th February 2019. The Team was also awarded the Best Written Memorial Prizes for both the Applicant and Respondent.
     The Team consists of five students – Kaley Chan Yauting (LLM), Harrison Chung Wing Fung (PCLL), Jonathan Hsu Yau Yung (PCLL), Mathilda Kwong Yuan Shang (LLB5) and Myranda Lai Wun Chi (PCLL). Since October 2018, the Team intensely discussed and researched this year’s moot question on state responsibility for corporate actions, human rights violations, environmental degradation and appropriation of traditional knowledge for commercial purposes. By drafting two 9,000 word memorials and numerous advocacy trainings, the Team improved substantially their writing, researching and advocacy skills. 
     The Team takes this opportunity to express their sincere gratitude to the team coaches Ms Astina Au and Ms Natalie So for their valuable feedback and helpful guidance throughout. The Team would also like to thank the guest judges, Mr Victor Lui, Mr Jeff Chan, Ms Alice Leung, Ms Angel Cheng, Mr Sunny Hor, Mr Henness Leung and Mr Jason Ko, for their kind assistance. The Team will continue to work hard in preparation for the international rounds in Washington DC in April 2019, in which they will represent Hong Kong in competing against fellow advocates from nearly 100 countries and jurisdictions around the world. 

New Issue: SSRN Legal Studies Research Paper Series (HKU)

Vol. 9, No. 1: Feb 22, 2018

Table of Contents

Douglas W. Arner, The University of Hong Kong - Faculty of Law
Ross P. Buckley, University of New South Wales (UNSW) - Faculty of Law
Dirk A. Zetzsche, Universite du Luxembourg - Faculty of Law, Economics and Finance, Heinrich Heine University Dusseldorf - Center for Business & Corporate Law (CBC)

David S. Law, Washington University in St. Louis - School of Law, The University of Hong Kong - Faculty of Law, Washington University in St. Louis - Department of Political Science

David S. Law, Washington University in St. Louis - School of Law, The University of Hong Kong - Faculty of Law, Washington University in St. Louis - Department of Political Science

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Advances in Comparative and Transnational ADR: Research into Practice Conference (8-9 March 2019, HKU)

"Advances in Comparative and Transnational ADR: Research into Practice"
8, 9 March 2019; 11th Floor Cheng Yu Tung Tower, Faculty of Law, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR
Preliminary Program
Friday March 8th
Dean Michael Hor, University of Hong Kong, Faculty of Law
Opening remarks:
Shahla Ali, University of Hong Kong
09:15 –
Session 1 – Methodological Considerations in Comparative and Transnational ADR
Chair: Zhao Yun
Discussant: Lola Akin Ojelabi
·Matthew Erie, “The Third Eye: The Problem of Method in the Study of Transnational Dispute Resolution”
·Michael Palmer, “Modes of Dispute Response: Reconnecting the Range”
·Shahla Ali, “Advancing Research and Practice in Dispute Resolution Institutions through Inclusive Devolved Reflection”

Morning Break

Session 2 – Comparative ADR Ethics, Standards and Jurisprudential Ideals
Chair: Keith Hawkins
Discussant: Kerstin Bree Carlson
·Deborah Hensler, “Re-Inventing Arbitration: How Expanding the Scope of Arbitration is Re-Shaping its Form and Blurring the Line Between Private and Public Adjudication”
·Michal Alberstein, “Between Summary Trials and ADR”
·Lola Akin Ojelabi, “The Challenges of Developing Global Ethical Standards for ADR Practice”
·Zachary R. Calo, “Legal Ethics and Transnational Dispute Resolution”
·Dorcas Quek, “A New Chapter in the Cross-Border Enforcement of Mediated Settlement Agreements: The Elevated Role of Mediation Standards in Procedural and Substantive Justice”
Lunch for Speakers/Chairs 

Session 3 – Comparative Approaches in Conciliation and Arbitration
Chair: Tania Sourdin
Discussant: Luigi Cominelli
·Anselmo Reyes, “The Use of Conciliation and Litigation by the Hong Kong Equal Opportunities Commission”
·Manuel Gomez, “Talk to Me: The Upsurge of International Arbitration-Related Conferences and their Impact on Academia, the Industry and the Legal Profession”
·Gu Weixia, “Arbitration in Comparative Perspectives”

Session 4 – Comparative ADR in Peace building, Health Care and Disasters
Chair: Eric Feldman
Discussant: Matthew Erie
·Kerstin Bree Carlson, “Peace Through Law: A Hybrid Tribunal for Divided South Sudan”
·Eric Feldman, “Recent Developments in Victim Compensation for the Fukushima Disaster” [TBC]
·Nadav Davidovitch, “Dealing with Conflicts in Health Care Systems: Form Clinical Medicine to Public Health Settings”
·Martin Lau, “TBC: ADR in Pakistan”

Session 5 – ADR Developments and Reform in Mainland China
Chair: Michael Palmer
Discussant: Sida Liu
·He Xin, “Flexibility and Authority: Resolving Labor Disputes in a County Government in Western China”
·Kwai Ng, “Wearing Two Hats – Problems of Judicial Mediation as Seen from China”
·Chao Xi, “Negotiations in the Shadow of Shareholder Activism”
·Sida Liu, “The Spaces of Global China: Hong Kong as a Frontier for Chinese Law Firms”
·Ling Zhou, “Forum Shopping in a World of Mixed Processes: China’s Professional Litigants”
·Yang Lin, “New Developments in Online Dispute Resolution in China”
Closing remarks
Dinner hosted by HKU (by invitation only)

Saturday March 9th

Session 6 – Mediation Developments in the Context of Civil Justice Reforms
Chair: Mark Feldman
·Tania Sourdin, “When is the Best time to Mediate? Considering Early Mediation”
·Luigi Cominelli, “Mediation Models and the Impact of the 52/2008 Directive on Civil and Commercial Mediation in Europe”
·Pablo Cortes, “Imbedding Mediation in the Civil Justice System”
·Nadja Alexander, “International Comparison of Regulatory Systems for Mediation”
·Francis Law, “TBC”
Closing remarks and next steps
Lunch hosted by HKU (by invitation only)

Conference Theme:

The focus of the forum is on exploring the challenges and opportunities in understanding and assessing developments in systems of dispute resolution in diverse social and political contexts through comparative research. Papers may cover topics such as practical considerations in conducting comparative work in the field of transnational and comparative dispute resolution, insights from recent studies, and consideration of how research may inform policy reform in ADR institutions regionally and transnationally. We hope the forum will facilitate research collaboration that will also translate into positive policy applications and directions for future study.

*Transnational Dispute Management (TDM, ISSN 1875-4120) is a comprehensive and innovative information service on the management of international disputes, with a focus on the rapidly evolving area of investment arbitration, but also in other significant areas of international investment (such as oil, gas, energy, infrastructure, mining, utilities etc).
It deals both with formal adjudicatory procedures (mainly investment and commercial arbitration), but also mediation/ADR methods, negotiation and managerial ways to manage transnational disputes efficiently. See for more information. You can apply for a free OGEMID trial membership and students can sign up for Young-OGEMID (which is free)

Please register through the following link:
Media Partner

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Alex Schwartz on Judicial Power and Consociational Federation: The Bosnian Example (Federal Law Review)

Federal Law Review
2018, v. 46 n. 4, pp. 631-644
An influential theory, sometimes called the ‘fragmentation hypothesis’, proposes that divided political systems will tend to empower courts because they make it more difficult for political elites to coordinate court-curbing retaliation. Another influential perspective proposes that federal systems are conducive to judicial empowerment because they create a demand for the authoritative adjudication of jurisdictional boundaries and/or they facilitate judicial supremacy over constitutional meaning. If both of these theories are correct, we might expect consociational (ie, power sharing) federations to be especially hospitable to the emergence of powerful courts. With reference to the example of Bosnia-Herzegovina, this article questions this conclusion; it is theorized here that core features of consociational federation will tend to undermine the growth and maintenance of judicial power.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Weixia Gu Interviewed on the First “Belt and Road" Case in Hong Kong (SCMP)

Kinling Lo
17 February 2019
A lawsuit against China’s main state-owned port builder by the Middle East’s largest port operator in the tiny African nation of Djibouti – to be thrashed out in Hong Kong’s High Court – underscores the legal risks Beijing faces in its massive global infrastructure plan, the “Belt and Road Initiative”.
DP World, a global port operator owned by the United Arab Emirates, is suing Hong Kong-based China Merchants Port Holdings (CM Port), a unit of state-owned China Merchants Group, for allegedly infringing DP World’s exclusive port agreement with Djibouti, which sits on the Horn of Africa near some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.
    According to court papers filed in August, CM Port allegedly caused the Djibouti government to revoke DP World’s exclusive right to run the country’s ports. If the case were to go to trial, it would be the first involving a Chinese belt and road project to be ruled on in the city’s courts, FactWire News Agency reported. Hong Kong’s legal jurisdiction is separated from mainland China’s under the city’s mini constitution.
     “The nature of the dispute and the fact that the defendant CM Port is a leading state-owned conglomerate based in Hong Kong expanding their port business around the world, has made this case particularly interesting,” said Gu Weixia, a University of Hong Kong associate law professor.
     “The case could significantly affect the investment behaviour [especially in a legal sense] of Chinese companies investing in the ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ in the future.”
... Click here to read the full text. 

Monday, February 25, 2019

New Book: Transparency Challenges Facing China (Palmer, Zhang & Fu)

Transparency Challenges Facing China
Editors: Michael Palmer, Xianchu Zhang, Hualing Fu
Wildy, Simmonds and Hill Publishing
January 2019
Description: The concept of transparency has grown exponentially in importance around the world as a principle of good governance over the past two decades.
     Openness in the manner in which governments, social institutions and business corporations conduct themselves, and their willingness to disclose important information about themselves or about other actors in which they have an interest, are important features of this growth. However, greater commitment to transparency may present difficulties for an authoritarian system’s political leadership.
     Such reform is likely to lead also to demands for political and governance change and similarly radical ideas that foster stability problems for an authoritarian political and legal system, as they enable civil society to scrutinize better the conduct of that authoritarian leadership and its institutions. On the other hand, when transparency is only partial, the government might use it as an instrument of propaganda, shaping public opinion and forestalling structural reform.
     The chapters in this book address the situation in mainland China where economic reform policies and a drive to gain a stronger place in the global economy have encouraged a complex and sometimes ambiguous approach to transparency. The essays explore the manner in which, and the degree to which, greater transparency in governance has emerged in the PRC.
     They also assess the impact of greater transparency in terms of accountability, decision-making processes, and responsiveness in the Chinese governance system. The papers in this volume have their origins in a 2016 conference on transparency issues in China held at the University of Hong Kong’s Faculty of Law under the guidance of the editors, and bringing together scholars with interests in the emergence of transparency in some of the most important areas of Chinese governance.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Yahong Li and Weijie Huang on Taking Users' Rights Seriously: Proposed UGC Solutions for Spurring Creativity in the Internet Age (QM J of Intell Prop)

Yahong Li and Weijie Huang
February 2019, Volume 9, Issue 1 
Abstract: The past three centuries have witnessed copyright owners competing with distributors for the flow of income generated by new technologies. However, users have largely been excluded from this cake-cutting copyright game. The neglect of users’ interests has posed a serious challenge in the user generated content (‘UGC’) age. New technologies have empowered users to create UGC, whereas the existing law entitles copyright owners to block users’ access to source materials and allows UGC platforms to exploit UGC without remuneration. This article proposes a two-pronged solution in attempting to strike a better balance between copyright owners, UGC platforms and UGC creators. The first is an ex-post remuneration rule that confers on UGC creators the legal right to use copyrighted work without asking for permission but imposes an obligation to pay remuneration, both of which pass to future UGC creators. This rule incorporates elements of Creative Commons and compulsory licensing as part of the copyright rules generally applicable to all UGC creators. The second solution proposes a community-based approach, which imposes upon UGC platforms a common-law duty of monitoring infringement and includes some legal standards that ensure fair implementation of the terms of use/service of UGC platforms.

Friday, February 22, 2019

PY Lo & Albert Chen on The Judicial Perspective of "Separation of Powers" in Hong Kong (J Int'l & Comp L)

PY Lo (PhD 2012) and Albert HY Chen
Journal of International and Comparative Law
Dec 2018, Volume 5:2, pp 279-567
Abstract: Hong Kong, a former British colony, has been a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People's Republic of China since 1997 with its own highly autonomous legal and judicial systems based on English common law.  Applying common law principles, the HKSAR courts have conceptualised "separation of powers" as a feature of the Basic Law - the HKSAR's constitutional instrument - and the Rule of Law in Hong Kong.  This article demonstrates how HKSAR courts have used "separation of powers" to describe and regulate the relationship among the institutions of government and as an operating valve of judicial non-intervention or deference vis-a-vis other branches of government.  Towards the end of this article, the judicial narrative that embraces "separation of powers" is contrasted with a political narrative promoted by mainland Chinese officials and scholars that doubts the "separation of powers" in the HKSAR's political system and advocates instead "executive-led government".

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Chen, Cheung & Chan on 'Doxing: What Adolescents Look for and Their Intentions' (Int'l J Env Res & Pub Health)

"Doxing: What Adolescents Look for and Their Intentions"
Mengtong Chen, Anne S Y Cheung and Ko Ling Chan
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
14 January 2019
Abstract: Doxing is a form of cyberbullying in which personal information on others is sought and released, thereby violating their privacy and facilitating further harassment. This study examined adolescents’ doxing participation using a representative sample of 2120 Hong Kong secondary school students. Just over one in 10 had engaged in doxing, and doxing behavior significantly increased the probability of disclosing personal information on others (odds ratio ranged between 2.705 and 5.181). Social and hostile doxing were the two most common forms of doxing. Girls were significantly more likely to conduct social doxing (χ 2 = 11.84, p < 0.001), where their target was to obtain social information (χ 2 = 4.79, p = 0.029), whereas boys were more likely to engage in hostile doxing aimed at obtaining personally identifiable information (χ 2 = 4.31, p = 0.038) and information on others’ current living situations (χ 2 = 4.17, p = 0.041). Students who had perpetrated doxing acts were more likely to have experienced information disclosure as victims, perpetrators, or bystanders. Future studies should examine doxing’s impacts and its relationship with other forms of cyberbullying and traditional bullying. Because doxing may lead to on- and off-line harassment, family, adolescents, schools, and communities must work together to develop effective approaches for combating it.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Amanda Whitfort Discusses Wildlife Trafficking on Backchat (RTHK Radio 3)

"Wildlife Trafficking"
RTHK Radio 3
4 Feb 2019
Description: On Monday's Backchat, wildlife trafficking. Hong Kong Customs recently seized more than $60 million worth of elephant tusks and pangolin scales that arrived in a shipment from Africa, and over the years there have been seizures of illegal ivory and rhino horn by the authorities, that are believed to be for use in Chinese medicine or sculptures. After a record seizure in 2017 there were no prosecutions - authorities say there was insufficient evidence to support a reasonable prospect of conviction. Is Hong Kong becoming a wildlife trafficking hub, despite laws here? Should Hong Kong take it more seriously? What other measures could be done to combat wildlife trafficking?
     Amanda Whitfort: Hong Kong is not doing well in legislation framework to combat smuggling ... United Nations came to Hong Kong to evaluate but the government refused to do so ... Chinese medicine practices on rhino-horns .... education is needed... Click here to listen to the full programme.

New Study Sheds Light on Illegal Wildlife Trade in Hong Kong (Amanda Whitfort, HKU Press Release)

21 January 2019
Hong Kong's illegal wildlife trade is contributing to a global extinction crisis. Every year millions of live animals, plants and their derivatives are illegally trafficked into and through Hong Kong, by transnational companies and organised crime syndicates.
     There is an urgent need for the government to enhance its current enforcement strategy against wildlife smuggling. Over the last decade, the diversity of endangered species imported into Hong Kong has increased by 57%. At the same time, the estimated value of the trade has increased by 1,600%. Since 2013, seizures of illegal ivory, pangolin scales and rhino horn have been made by Hong Kong authorities, potentially equating to the deaths of 3,000 elephants, 96,000 pangolins and 51 rhinoceros.
   Hong Kong's illegal wildlife trade is increasing in volume, underestimated in value and contributing to the global extinction crisis.
     Some members of the Hong Kong Wildlife Trade Working Group (HKWTWG) have joined forces to publish a study focusing on the type and volume of seizures relating to illegal wildlife trade in Hong Kong over the last 5 years. The findings documented in the 200 page report: Trading in Extinction: The Dark Side of Hong Kong's Wildlife Trade, illustrate the city's central role in global wildlife trafficking and the extent and nature of the associated criminality. It identifies clearly, how future policy and enforcement could be improved to provide the urgently required long-term sustainability.
   Associate Professor Amanda Whitfort of the Faculty of Law, one of the authors of the report said: "Wildlife crime in Hong Kong remains under-policed and under-investigated. Wildlife smuggling is not regarded as organised and serious crime, under Hong Kong law. Failure to include wildlife smuggling as a crime under the Organised and Serious Crime ordinance, Cap 455, hampers authorities' powers to effectively prosecute those behind the networks and syndicates that take advantage of Hong Kong's position as a major trading port."
   "Our research indicates Hong Kong has become a hub for organised wildlife smugglers, with consequences for the international reputation of our city as well as international biodiversity," said Lisa Genasci, CEO of ADMCF, adding that "Extinction of elephants, rhino, pangolin and many other species in our lifetime is on the horizon, unless the illegal trade is stopped."  To download the report, click here.  For local media reports, see SCMP, HKEJ, Ming Pao, Oriental Daily.  The report was recently cited in an article by Daniel Cross in Sustainabiltiy Times (15 March 2019).

Monday, February 18, 2019

Eric Cheung Interviewed on Obstacles to Lawyers Providing Pro Bono Advice in Hong Kong (SCMP)

South China Morning Post
Alvin Lum
5 January 2019
Hong Kong authorities have been urged to catch up with regional competitors in encouraging free legal advice by investing public money and setting up service platforms, according to local and Australian legal experts.
     They said Australia and Singapore have launched reforms to give NGOs, and ordinary citizens, greater access to legal services needed for their daily lives, such as settling disputes with landlords and employers, or even with the police.
     To provide legal advice in Hong Kong, voluntary or not, qualified lawyers must first get their law firms to buy professional indemnity insurance for them, in case their clients sue them for making a wrong call in the legal process.
     In Hong Kong, lawyers can only be insured collectively as part of a law firm. This means that lawyers cannot provide legal advice to NGOs or underprivileged people, unless they get permission and financial support from their employers.
     Principal law lecturer at the University of Hong Kong, Eric Cheung Tat-ming, who runs one of the city’s few clinics providing free legal advice, has his volunteer lawyers insured by the publicly funded Duty Lawyers Service scheme.
   Cheung believes the Hong Kong government should either consider revising local laws on professional indemnity, or bulk purchase of insurance for pro bono lawyers.
     “For each year, it may involve a few hundred thousand dollars, but it could help many lawyers provide free legal services. The government could absolutely afford it.”
     Cheung, who also served on the governing council of the Law Society, said that without revising the law, the existing legal framework was not conducive to pro bono work. He said many lawyers offering free legal advice – including those under the government’s duty lawyer scheme to give legal advice at district offices – run the risk of violating the professional code, which requires lawyers to be covered by professional indemnity.
     “This is a genuine ticking time bomb, because it’s a compulsory requirement,” he said. Click here to read the full text.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Lusina Ho and Rebecca Lee Awarded HKU's KE Excellence Award 2018 for Special Needs Trust

L-R: L Ho & R Lee
Congratulations to Lusina Ho and Rebecca Lee who were awarded HKU's Knowledge Exchange (KE) Excellence Award 2018 for their impactful special needs trust (SNT) project.  In 2016, Ho and Lee researched and recommended the innovative idea of a government-led trust to assist persons with special needs, including those with intellectual disabilities and cognitive impairments, and their families by providing affordable long-term asset management services.  The Hong Kong government readily took up the idea, which was mentioned in the Chief Executive's Policy Addresses in 2016, 2017 and 2018.  In late 2018, the Hong Kong rolled out the new service (see Press Release) and announced that it would begin to accept applications in March 2019.  Ho and Lee's idea of a government-led SNT is already informing policy-making in other jurisdictions including South Korea.  This is the second time the Faculty of Law has won this university wide award since 2015 when it was created.

New FinTech Regulation and Policy Project Funded by RGC's Research Impact Fund (PI: Douglas Arner, HKU Law, HK$4.3M)

Kerry Holdings Professor
Congratulations to Professor Douglas Arner who is leading a research project recently awarded HK$4.3 million (including $1.3 million matching by HKU) from the Research Grants Council's new Research Impact Fund 2018/19. The title of the project is Balancing the Opportunities and Risks of Financial Technology: FinTech Regulation and Policy.  The team members of this international and interdisciplinary project include Ross Buckley from the University of New South Wales, David C. Donald from Chinese University of Hong Kong, George Q. Huang from HKU (Business & Economics), Chen Lin from HKU (Business & Economics), Siuming Yiu from HKU (Computer Science), and Dirk A. Zetzsche from the University of Luxembourg.
  Project Description: Finance and technology have always been inextricably intertwined, from the earliest development of money (e.g. coins are a technology which stores value, provides a unit of account and a means of payment) to today’s e-money solutions (from mobile payment to cryptocurrencies). Within that interaction between finance and technology law plays a critical role as it defines the use, limitation and function of money in society.
    The 1970s marks the beginning of a change of the relationship between finance, technology and law. The arrival of mainframe computers initiated a process of digitisation of finance, which has only increased ever since with the improvement in computing power, datafication of the financial services industry and availability of analytical tools.
     Following the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, a second evolution in the interaction between finance, technology and regulation occurred. It was brought by two factors. First, the arrival of new participants (from start-ups to major technology and communications companies) in financial markets. Second the extremely rapid datafication of society brought by increased mobile phone penetration (5 billion), IoT devices (20 billion) which can be stored and managed on new infrastructure (blockchain and DLT) analysed by tools such as artificial intelligence.
     This second phase is now generally identified by the term “FinTech” and has gathered the interest of policymakers, regulators, private sectors and investors in every major financial centre, including Hong Kong. Whilst FinTech development offers many opportunities (i.e. better competition, financial inclusion, economic development) certain risks emerge. In particular where FinTech responds to unmet demands, a new segment on consumer can be at exposed. Furthermore, when FinTech relies on new technological advancements, new unanswered questions emerge (i.e. what of GDPR compliance of distributed data on blockchain).
     Hong Kong’s opportunities and risks are compounded by its geographical situation. It's proximity to China and centre place in Asia put’s Hong Kong at the heart of the regions witnessing the most dramatic changes in finance and technology. The tension brought by these changes will reveal (in)adequacies of the law and its role in facilitation the interaction between finance and technology. This opens an opportunity for reform, one which will look at new laws and regulations but also how this can be improved with technology (what the authors refer as Smart Regulation, part of Regtech)
     This research project will provide a comprehensive study benefiting the agenda of Hong Kong’s regulators and policymakers in respect to FinTech development. Therefore it will support the city’s ambition to retain its leadership as a financial centre. Given the benchmarking work that will be conducted and Hong Kong’s geographical location at the forefront of change, this work can be exported in other jurisdiction as foresight of what will occur in the future.