Skip to content

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

Court technology remains a work in progress


Court technology remains a work in progress

Hong Kong, 10 June 2020: Finding silver linings amid the coronavirus pandemic has been difficult, to put it mildly, with almost every aspect of our daily lives disrupted. But one positive development – for the legal profession, at least – came in March with our Judiciary’s recognition that we needed advanced technological solutions in our court system. This would not only allow cases to be heard remotely, it would bring Hong Kong into line with many other jurisdictions where video conferencing has been the norm for years.

It was a welcome development and, towards the end of April, while the courts were still generally closed, we at Boase Cohen & Collins were pleased to participate in one of the first remote hearings. The key players were at three locations, namely the High Court and the respective counsel’s chambers, and the all-day session went smoothly. Afterwards, there was general agreement within our team that it had been a success.

Alas, our second experience was more problematic. In a hearing set for last week, our client was overseas and wished to watch the proceedings and give evidence, but we ran into a succession of technical problems involving WiFi, firewalls, routers and the like. It took IT staff from both the Judiciary and Boase Cohen & Collins considerable time and effort to resolve the issues and enable everything to run smoothly.

In contrast, our firm was recently involved in a case management hearing at the High Court in London regarding a civil matter. There were almost 40 participants in various parts of the world logging on via Skype for Business, the preferred platform of the English courts, and it proceeded without a hitch.

Our courts have been reopened – with social distancing measures in place – since early May and have a huge backlog of cases to process. In short, they are swamped with work. Perhaps this is why the momentum to implement more video technology and ensure it is user-friendly appears to have stagnated. It is regrettable and I’m sure many of my colleagues in the legal profession would agree we need renewed commitment to getting up to speed.

If Covid-19 has caused headaches for our Judiciary, these pale compared with the myriad problems facing Cathay Pacific. As a consequence, our government is leading a massive HK$39 billion (US$5 billion) bailout of the struggling airline, seeing it as a necessary step to protect Hong Kong’s status as a global aviation hub. Under a recapitalisation plan unveiled yesterday, the government will provide a lifeline of HK$27.3 billion (US$3.5 billion), giving it a 6% stake.

While this may be laudable, it is also a fact that an airline cannot be sustained without air travel. Yet we have compulsory quarantine for travellers from mainland China, Macau and Taiwan and for Hong Kong residents arriving from anywhere else. There continues to be an indefinite ban on non-residents flying in from abroad. While I stated last week that these restrictions are understandable, there does need to be an exit plan. After using public funds to help Hong Kong’s national carrier, the onus is on our government to announce one.

I should at least finish with some good news. Hong Kong has now gone five days without any locally transmitted cases of the coronavirus. The small cluster of cases discovered recently at a housing estate in Sha Tin appears, at this stage, to have been contained, with over 100 people evacuated to government-run quarantine camps and more than 1,300 residents tested for the virus. It means our city’s Covid-19 tally remains at 1,107 cases with four related deaths. Hong Kong is winning the coronavirus fight, but at huge economic cost. We need to move forward, sooner rather than later.

Stay safe and well, everybody!

Colin Cohen
Senior Partner
Boase Cohen & Collins

35+ 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.

Harbouring doubts about our exit plan

Hong Kong, 20 October 2021: Having lived in Hong Kong for 40 years, I’m sometimes guilty of being blasé about this wonderful city’s unique appeal. Boasting an exotic blend of ancient and modern, East meets West, downtown bustle versus country park tranquility, there is nowhere quite like it. And it appears many people agree, given […]

Read more

Delaying tactics draw judge’s ire

By Insurance and Personal Injury Team Hong Kong, 19 October 2021: Parties involved in long-running personal injury cases have been warned that the courts will no longer tolerate unacceptable delays that result in even straightforward claims taking years to resolve. In particular, the courts will be prepared to impose sanctions on costs against anyone who […]

Read more

Law & More: Episode 6 – Steve Vickers

Hong Kong, 15 October 2021: Steve Vickers is our guest in the latest episode of our Law & More podcast. After serving as a senior officer in the Royal Hong Kong Police Force, when he led anti-triad operations and resolved numerous kidnapping incidents, Steve transitioned to the world of business. He is founder and CEO […]

Read more

Logical thinking is being blown away

Hong Kong, 13 October 2021: Just four days after Hong Kong endured its first typhoon of the year, our city is being doused by a second one. Last Saturday, Tropical Storm Lionrock brought typically violent winds and torrential rain, causing the No.8 signal (the third-highest level of alert) to be in force for 22 hours, […]

Read more

Mediterranean meet-up a tonic for Ally Law

Hong Kong, 12 October 2021: After a two-year wait due to the global pandemic, Boase Cohen & Collins was delighted to attend an in-person gathering of Ally Law firms last week. Partner Susan Cheung (pictured, second from left) represented the firm at the meet-up on the Greek island of Crete, joining attendees from Ally Law […]

Read more