The Law Society of Hong Kong has been considering changes to their foreign lawyer practising rules for the past three years. The principal proposed changes were as follows:
- Amendments to Rule 12(1) to clarify that a foreign lawyer may only provide a legal service which relates to the law(s) of the jurisdiction(s) stated on a certificate of registration issued by the Law Society
- Changes to Rule 12(2) to clarify the circumstances in which a foreign lawyer may be involved in the process of disseminating advice concerning Hong Kong law given by a practising solicitor
- A proposal which would require international firms practising in Hong Kong to hire two domestic lawyers for each foreign lawyer, double the current quota
- A change of the period from three to five years required of a foreign firm to be established in Hong Kong prior to being entitled to convert to a Hong Kong firm
- An increase in Foreign Lawyers Registration Fees, which have remained unchanged for twenty years.
The outcome of the consultation is to proceed with the amendment exercise on the Foreign Lawyers Registration (Fees) Rules, however the Law Society Council decided against pursuing the other legislative proposals as there were concerns that doing so could adversely impact the development of the legal services market in Hong Kong.