LAWASIA Annual Conference, Hong Kong

Rule of law, legal professional privilege, and regional developments for the legal profession were hot topics this year at the 32nd LAWASIA Annual Conference.

Law Society president Simon Davis at the LAWASIA Annual Conference

Over 600 lawyers, legal professionals and academics from across the globe converged in Hong Kong from 5 to 8 November 2019, for the Annual LAWASIA Conference, Harmonisation through Synergy.

The flagship event is the highlight of LAWASIA’s professional events programme. 

The Conference began with the launch of LAWASIA Business & Human Rights Guidance & Toolkit by Christopher Leong, President of LAWASIA.

Following this, in the plenary session “Upholding of or Pursuit for the Rule of Law in Challenging Times?” our president, Simon Davis, spoke about the responsibility to uphold the rule of law.

“At the Law Society, we believe there is a strong link between economic prosperity and the rule of law. A stable environment in which rights are respected, the rule of law is upheld and the legal profession’s independence is guaranteed, is an environment in which businesses can thrive economically.

We've supported the independence of the legal profession in the UK and internationally for a long time, mainly through sending letters to authorities on cases of persecuted lawyers and organising events to raise awareness. Read more about our Lawyers at Risk programme.

But rule of law was not the only theme of the week-long programme.

Topical areas for the legal profession, including alternative dispute resolution, banking and finance, law firm management, and issues for in house lawyers, were also explored.

New ways of communicating, doing business, and resolving disputes, inevitably create novel situations - and potential challenges - for any system seeking to protect confidentiality and the integrity of the administration of justice, noted our President at the in-house lawyers session “Legal Professional Privilege in In-House Environment – Local and International Challenges.”

“For example, issues around who counts as the 'client' in legal advice privilege in the context of large corporations with many employees can cause difficulties.

However, it is clear that Legal Professional Privilege is as vital as ever in protecting the rule of law and human rights in rapidly changing times, if not more so.

Legal Professional Privilege protects the rule of law and plays a central role in our justice system. We've published an updated practice note on Legal Professional Privilege, which clarifies its status and provides updates on the latest developments in case law.

LAWASIA Council updates

We're one of the few lawyers’ associations based outside Asia that sits on the LAWSAIA Council. Our president represented England and Wales as our councillor and voted for the new Council for 2020-2021. 

We wish to congratulate Melissa Pang for her election as president-elect, and Justin Dowd, Steven Thiru and Shyam Divan for their election as vice presidents. 

Our members in Hong Kong

On Friday 8 November, the president co-chaired a roundtable with member firms with offices in Hong Kong together with the head economics and trade policy consul, Sarah Robinson, at the British Consulate-General.

This was a great opportunity to touch base and update our international strategy in the region in light of the Law Society of Hong Kong’s decision not to pursue its proposals on the regulation of foreign lawyers.

The president discussed this strategy directly with the Law Society of Hong Kong in a meeting following the roundtable.

We look forward to continuing working with and supporting our members in Hong Kong and working with our close counterparts, the Law Society of Hong Kong, to improve bilateral trade in services for our respective members. 

If you would like to know more about our sessions at the conference, our work in Hong Kong, or our international department, email us at asia@lawsociety.org.uk.