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Pilot program for lawyers from HK, Macao to be extended

By CAO YIN | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2023-08-28 16:15

A pilot program enabling legal practitioners from Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions to practice in nine cities on the mainland is expected to be extended, according to a draft decision being mulled by China's top legislature.

The draft decision was submitted to the ongoing session of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, the country's top legislative body, for a review on Monday.

In August 2020, the NPC Standing Committee announced a three-year pilot program where legal practitioners from Hong Kong and Macao could be qualified to work in the cities of Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Foshan, Huizhou, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Jiangmen and Zhaoqing after passing an exam. All of the cities are in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.

The move was seen as a way to expedite the integration and development of the rule of law in the GBA region as well as to expand the role of Hong Kong and Macao professionals.

Data released by Minister of Justice He Rong on Monday showed that more than 1,500 legal practitioners from Hong Kong and Macao have participated in the exam since the pilot was launched and, of whom, 341 have obtained the certificates.

"We've seen the achievement of the pilot practice, but we've also found some problems that need more research and time to resolve, so we decided to suggest that the pilot be extended," He said.

She pointed out that the pilot needs further evaluation "as about half of the participants haven't yet passed the exam due to the pandemic and unfamiliarity with the mainland policies, and those qualified haven't been practicing in the cities for long," she said while explaining the draft to lawmakers.

In addition, supporting services and measures on the management of legal practitioners in the GBA also demands time and studies to be formulated and promoted, she said.

"Therefore, we proposed that the pilot should be extended for a further three years to Oct 4, 2026," she added.

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