Press release: Hong Kong lawyers reveal barriers to access to justice

HONG KONG, 21 May 2020 — PILnet organized, in conjunction with its partners City University of Hong Kong (Public Law and Human Rights Forum), and the University of Hong Kong (Human Rights Hub), a conversation with pro bono lawyers highlighting the role of the Law Society in improving access to justice in Hong Kong. The event titled “A Dialogue: Removing Barriers to Access to Justice in Hong Kong” was organized in anticipation of the upcoming Hong Kong Law Society Council Election, which will take place on 28 May 2020.

Mr. Jonathan Ross (Starry Group Holdings Limited), current Law Society Council member; Mr. Davyd Wong (Star Anise); Ms. Janet Pang (Tang, Lee & Co.); and Mr. Kenneth Lam (Kenneth Lam Solicitors) — candidates for this year’s Council Election shared their personal views regarding how access to justice in Hong Kong can be improved. The event was moderated by Ms. Patricia Ho, Principal Lecturer, Faculty of Law, University of Hong Kong. 62 members of the legal profession and members of the public in Hong Kong and around the world attended this event via a virtual platform.

In 2017, PILnet and DLA Piper published the report “THIS WAY – Finding Community Legal Assistance in Hong Kong”, a comprehensive study that revealed a long-standing gap between available legal services and the community’s actual needs for timely, accessible, and affordable legal assistance in Hong Kong. Against this background, all current members of the Law Society Council and candidates were invited in their personal capacity to participate in a dialogue on how the legal profession can best meet the community’s legal needs. The panel highlighted that there are untapped resources in the legal profession to meet the unmet legal needs of the community, and the Law Society can do more to facilitate the legal profession to do so through institutionalized means. Davyd Wong, commented that “the Law Society Council needs to do more to improve access to justice, as it is a fundamental part of the rule of law. This means that everyone must have equal access to law regardless of their background, status, or financial capacity. Lawyers can be expensive, but that should not be a barrier to justice, and the Law Society has a crucial role in facilitating this.” Julia Mayerhofer, Director of PILnet Hong Kong who opened the event shared that “early legal assistance is the key to access to justice in Hong Kong. There is no visible entry point to free legal advice and services in Hong Kong, and navigating this maze can be tough for people of limited means or education. Furthermore regulatory barriers for legal NGOs, and certain categories of lawyers, such as retired lawyers, law professors, in-house counsel, providing pro bono assistance should be addressed.”

Recording available on request. Send an email to hkprobono@pilnet.org to access this webinar.

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Hong Kong program contact:
Isabel Chang, Senior Program Officer, PILnet (For Chinese)
Email: ichang@pilnet.org
Julia Mayerhofer, Director for Hong Kong, PILnet (For English)
Email: jmayerhofer@pilnet.org
Tel: +852 6106 0892

Media contact:
Toby Greenfield, Communications Director, PILnet
Email: tgreenfield@pilnet.org