Hong Kong will remain Asia’s pre-eminent legal hub in spite of escalating protests, the Law Society of Hong Kong has said, noting the growing number of foreign law firms in the city.
Melissa Pang, president of the Law Society of Hong Kong, told the Gazette that the number of foreign law firms in the region has risen in the past six months, from 87 in April 2019 to 89 last month, in spite of political tension.
She added: ‘We also had 1,671 registered foreign lawyers from 33 jurisdictions in October, more or less the same as in April before the social activities started in June. These all show that the public order events have not impacted the legal work.’
Most legal events that have taken place in Hong Kong, such as the LAWASIA conference – which was attended by 600 delegates – were unaffected by protests, Pang said, although ‘some individual events such as forums and advice sessions were postponed due to transportation concern’.
She added: ‘Hong Kong’s legal system is renowned internationally for being transparent, trustworthy and fair. It has a solid foundation and it remains strong in the face of the recent public order events.’
There is growing doubt, however, over Hong Kong’s future as a global centre. According to the Financial Times, Hong Kong’s GDP is falling at the fastest pace since the financial crisis, retail sales have plummeted and mainland Chinese travellers have stopped visiting the region.
Earlier this month, the Hong Kong Law Society warned that 'nothing should be said or done that will undermine judicial independence and the rule of law’. The statement came in the wake of China's attack on a Hong Kong court ruling which overturned a controversial mask ban.