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Colleagues honour retiring Melville Boase

Hong Kong, 1 November 2019: Melville Boase may have left Boase Cohen & Collins, but the firm will never leave him. After all, it has been centre stage in his working life for 34 years.

This much was obvious in the smiles, cheers and even a few tears as staff past and present held a farewell party yesterday in honour of BC&C’s co-founder as he stepped down from his consultancy role and into what promises to be a rather busy retirement.

“The warmth and support I have enjoyed from everyone at Boase Cohen & Collins through all this time has been amazing, I have been very fortunate to have spent a large part of my working life with a group of wonderful people, some of whom have been with the firm for many years,” says Mel.

“I have always believed in the principle that people should enjoy coming to work and co-operating with colleagues of a like mind. And I always kept this in mind when interviewing candidates to join us, thinking about not only their competence, but how they would fit in.”

Hailing from Falmouth in Cornwall, Mel studied law at Liverpool University – which included a one-month programme in Portugal with the International Faculty of Private Law held at the University of Lisbon – and graduated with Honours in 1965.

His next stop was Brazil, where he spent a year as a Rotary International Foundation Fellow at the University of Campinas, São Paulo, studying Private International Comparative Law. He was admitted as a Solicitor in England and Wales in 1970, becoming Assistant County Prosecuting Solicitor with Gwent County Council in 1973 and Principal Solicitor with Newport Borough Council two years later.

Mel arrived in Hong Kong in 1977 as Crown Counsel for the Hong Kong Government, a role he occupied for three years before entering private practice and going on to set up BC&C in 1985 with Colin Cohen, now the firm’s Senior Partner.

Mel admits the decision to form their own firm was a leap into the unknown. “It was like wearing a blindfold and jumping off a diving board not knowing if there was even water in the pool. Luckily, there was!” he laughs.

“We have come a long way since the early days when Colin and I shared an office and we employed eight staff. We have seen the firm grow bigger and better and we have been blessed with exceptional staff and Partners. I thank everyone connected with Boase Cohen & Collins for having made my life so satisfying and rewarding.”

Not that Mel is planning on putting his feet up. Once he and wife Linda have completed a relaxing cruise to Vietnam next month, he will return to a busy schedule.

Protecting the rights of migrant workers in Hong Kong has always been a passion and so he will continue as Treasurer of the Mission for Migrant Workers, a role he has occupied since 1981. As a member of the Hong Kong Jockey Club he will continue to enjoy outings to the races, he is active in the Freemasons and will carry on meeting with his friends in the Pipe Club of Hong Kong. He is also looking forward to seeing more of his three daughters and three grandsons.

Colin, meanwhile, will miss his long-time colleague, saying: “It has been an absolute honour and pleasure to have spent the majority of my working life in the company of Mel, not only an exceptional legal professional but a great man and wonderful friend. The esteem in which he is held by all at Boase Cohen & Collins speaks for itself.”

Following the staff party, Mel and Linda said their final farewells at a celebratory dinner with Colin and the firm’s other Partners. And he departed with a message for his former colleagues. “I have many great memories to take with me, but I’m not disappearing. I will be back from time to time to see everyone.”

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Melville Boase is pictured with a mix of Partners and staff past and present while (below) he signals a passing of the torch as he is surrounded by the firm’s Trainees and Associates. Later, a celebratory dinner (bottom) offered a chance for Mel and Colin Cohen to reflect on some marvellous memories.

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