Skip to content

Something urgent? Call us now! (852) 3416 1711

A boost for cross-border co-operation

By Alex Liu

Hong Kong, 5 January 2022: The new year begins with welcome news for Hong Kong and Mainland China’s huge cross-border business community: long-awaited legislation to enhance legal co-operation between the two jurisdictions is imminent.

The Department of Justice is currently conducting a public consultation – ending on 31 January – on its proposals for reciprocal recognition and enforcement of judgments (REJ) in civil and commercial matters. It is envisaged a bill will be put before the Legislative Council this year.

Once implemented, the measures will reduce the need for re-litigation of the same disputes in both places and offer better protection to parties’ interests. Further, they will enhance Hong Kong’s competitiveness as a regional centre for legal and dispute resolution services. Under the proposals:

  1. A person may apply to the Court of First Instance (CFI) to have a Mainland judgment in a civil or commercial matter registered with the CFI on an ex parte (meaning “by or for one party”) basis;
  2. The CFI may set aside a registration if the applicant has proved to the satisfaction of the court that any of the exhaustive grounds of refusal exists;
  3. Subject to certain restrictions, the proposed legislative scheme covers both monetary (excluding punitive or exemplary damages) and non-monetary relief; and
  4. A registered judgment may be enforced in the same way as if it were a judgment originally given by the CFI.

The scheme also empowers the courts here to issue certified copies of, and certificates for, such Hong Kong judgments.

The consultation period belatedly follows signing of the so-called REJ Arrangement, outlining the proposals, between the Supreme People’s Court and the Hong Kong Government almost three years ago. In drafting the proposals, both sides referenced the then draft version of the Hague Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Civil or Commercial Matters. However, the REJ Arrangement also expressly covers judgments concerning intellectual property rights, an area the Hague agreement excludes. Hong Kong is the first jurisdiction to have an accord of this nature with the Mainland that offers such wide scope.

The impending legislation is excellent news for anyone doing business with individuals or companies that have assets in both Hong Kong and the Mainland. Beneficiaries of the measures will certainly include investors in the Belt and Road Initiative and Greater Bay Area. While the close economic, trade and business ties between the two jurisdictions are well documented, it is worth highlighting some revealing statistics courtesy of our government’s Trade and Industry Department:

  • The Mainland’s share of Hong Kong’s global trade has increased from 9.3% in 1978 to 51.8% (around HK$4,248 billion) in 2020.
  • Hong Kong was the Mainland’s second largest export market, taking up 10.5% (HK$2,118 billion) of its total exports in 2020.
  • The value of Hong Kong’s total imports from the Mainland was HK$1,923 billion, accounting for 45% of the city’s total imports in 2020.
  • As of June 2020, there were 238 companies from the Mainland with regional headquarters in Hong Kong.
  • Hong Kong was the Mainland’s largest source of realised foreign direct investment, accounting for about 55% of the national total as at the end of 2019, with the cumulative value reaching HK$9,368 billion.

The DoJ’s proposals are embodied in the Mainland Judgments in Civil and Commercial Matters (Reciprocal Enforcement) Bill and the Mainland Judgments in Civil and Commercial Matters (Reciprocal Enforcement) Rules. The consultation paper is available here on the DoJ website and members of the public are invited to submit their comments before the end of this month.

In acknowledging this major progress in co-operation, it is important to recognise that the cross-border legal landscape remains crowded, competitive and complex. Hence, sound legal advice is paramount. Here at Boase Cohen & Collins, we have an accomplished litigation team, many of them fluent in Putonghua, who thrive in this challenging environment.

A Partner in BC&C since 2000, Alex Liu’s key areas of practice include commercial and corporate litigation, investigations by governmental bodies such as the SFC, ICAC and Commercial Crime Bureau, insolvency and debt restructuring, intellectual property, defamation, property and commercial contract drafting. He can be contacted at

37+ years of legal experience is just a click away.

Friendly and approachable, we are ready to answer your questions and offer you sound advice.

Contact us now


News & Knowledge

Learn more about what we do and what we say. Subscribe to our newsletter to ensure you receive our updates.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

IP issues aired at Copenhagen conference

Hong Kong, 20 June 2022: Our Partner Susan Cheung was among hundreds of delegates who converged on Copenhagen for the 40th annual conference of ECTA – the European Communities Trademark Association. With a theme of “Designing the Future”, the four-day gathering brought together intellectual property professionals in a series of presentations, panel discussions and workshops, […]

Read more

Eureka! Another really bad idea …

Paris, 15 June 2022: Albert Einstein was a refugee. The feted physicist and Nobel laureate arrived in the US in 1933 after fleeing persecution in Nazi Germany. Singer Freddie Mercury, painter Marc Chagall, American Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and philanthropist George Soros? Refugees all. Just a few notable names – and there are many […]

Read more

Fostering a spirit of togetherness

By Allison Lee Hong Kong, 10 June 2022: A modest but significant ceremony was staged by the Social Welfare Department (SWD) last month to celebrate a group of unsung heroes of the pandemic, namely foster families. The dedication shown by foster parents and, in many cases, their birth children in providing a temporary home for […]

Read more

A directive for the digital age

By Arthur Chan and Jasmine Kwong Hong Kong, 8 June 2022: Over the past few years, tensions have been prevalent in Hong Kong society due to the city’s political situation. Although the role of the Judiciary is defined so as to remain impartial and unbiased, it is impossible to untwine politics and justice. Judges and […]

Read more

Lessons in life from a legendary teacher

Hong Kong, 7 June 2022: Inspirational teacher and charity worker Nicole Sicard recounted her remarkable life story in a lunchtime talk at the Helena May in Central attended by five of BC&C’s lawyers. During a fireside chat with our Partner Usha Casewell, Miss Sicard described how she arrived in Hong Kong almost 60 years ago […]

Read more