Qianhai Court Building a New Mode of Judicial Talent Exchange in the Greater Bay Area

In recent years, the integration and development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area have been continuously deepening, generating a significant market demand for cross-border legal services. Recruitment of professional legal talents from Hong Kong and Macao to participate in the development of the rule of law in the Bay Area has become a trend. In this process, the Qianhai Court has raised its status and taken the lead in establishing a jury system with Hong Kong characteristics, by appointing Hong Kong and Macao mediators to participate in mediation work. Qianhai Court also conducts diversified and systematic judicial exchange activities with Hong Kong and Macao, with an aim to opening up its legal industry and exploring a new path to promote exchange and integration of legal talents in the Greater Bay Area with Qianhai characteristics. 

With the expansion and deepening of the opening up and development of the Qianhai Free Trade Zone, the growth rate of the Qianhai Court's acceptance of foreign-related commercial cases involving Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan has been rapid, especially in cases involving Hong Kong, accounting for nearly 70% of the total number of such cases. In order to create a first-class legal business environment, the Qianhai Court innovated at the beginning of its establishment, taking the lead in establishing a jury system with Hong Kong elements, and successively appointed two batches of 32 Hong Kong jurors.
Lei Yujin was the second batch of Hong Kong jurors selected by the Qianhai Court in 2018, with rich experience in insurance and finance. Due to the strict implementation of entry and exit controls in Mainland China and Hong Kong in 2020, Lei Yujin has participated in the jury work of the Qianhai Court online through "cloud-based jurors". In 2022, he participated in the trial of five cases online, mainly involving loan contract disputes in the financial field and sales contract disputes in the trade field.

When it comes to the role of Hong Kong jurors in cross-border case trials, Lei Yujin stated that there are professional judges in the law who make judgments, and jurors will provide judges with reference opinions based on customary practices in the professional field. He hopes that the resolution of disputes can fully apply the law while also making objective judgments based on the existing market situation. People from different regions and legal systems are integrated into the development process of the Greater Bay Area, so jurors play an intermediate role and can participate in the development of the Greater Bay Area with their own expertise.
The selection of Hong Kong jurors is a landmark event promoted by the Qianhai Court since its establishment. Hong Kong jurors leverage their professional advantages and cultural background to resolve disputes, and effectively enhance the credibility of our judicial system in an interregional context" said Wu Youbin, Vice President of the Qianhai Court.
According to statistics, as of March 2023, jurors in Hong Kong have participated in a total of 920 trials.

Qianhai Court has also established a system of effective dispute resolution with Hong Kong mediators. A Hong Kong bank signed a loan agreement with a Mainland resident Yuan in 2018, granting him three loans totalling HKD 19 million. After the loan expired in 2021, Yuan still owed more than HKD 13 million in principal and interest, but was unable to repay it on time.

After the Qianhai Court accepted the case, it entrusted Hong Kong mediator Xu Jing to preside over the mediation between the two parties. After several rounds of online negotiations, both parties reached a mediation agreement applying Hong Kong law and applied for judicial confirmation to the court.

“We originally expected this case to be resolved through litigation, which would take at least a year, but now the dispute has been resolved through mediation in just three months”, said Li, the representative of a Hong Kong bank participating in the lawsuit.

Xu Jing is a typical representative of the Hong Kong and Macao mediators of the Qianhai Court. In response to the characteristics of cross-border commercial cases, the Qianhai Court has established an international and professional mediation force to designate mediators from Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan regions to participate in the mediation for parties involved in cross-border disputes, dispelling concerns caused by differences in legal and cultural backgrounds among parties in Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan regions.
There are three main identities of mediators in the Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan regions: lawyers, mediators with professional qualifications, and professionals engaged in international finance, trade, and other fields. They can become specially invited mediators to the court through their own application or court invitation, and after certain identity and qualifications review, "said Judge Liu Zhe of the Litigation Service Centre of Qianhai Court.

According to data from the Qianhai Court, as of May this year, the court has hired 45 specially invited mediators from Hong Kong and Macao regions, with a total of 2448 mediation cases.
In December 2022, the Qianhai Court formulated and issued the "Guidelines for Deepening the Connection of Cross border Commercial Litigation Rules" and the "1+8" Cross border Commercial Legal Rule Connection System. At the same time, it also issued the "Cross border Commercial Legal Rule Connection Series White Paper", leading the overall breakthrough in the recognition and connection of cross-border commercial legal rules and improving the predictability of commercial activities.

"This is a new model for Qianhai Court to take the lead in exploring the close cooperation between the judicial, practical and academic circles in Shenzhen and Hong Kong in the Greater Bay Area. The release of a series of institutional achievements has also successfully implemented the new paradigm system of cross-border commercial legal rules convergence, providing an endogenous force of the rule of law for the Greater Bay Area Unicom to promote economic integration and development." said Xi Chao, professor, doctoral supervisor and vice president of the Law School of the CUHK Faculty of Law.
In order to continue the opening up of legal industry and deepening the connection of cross-border commercial legal rules, the Qianhai Court established the "Guangdong Hong Kong Macao Commercial Legal Rule Connection Research Centre" in December 2021. Relying on the centre, Qianhai Court has employed four scholars from the University of Hong Kong, the Chinese University of Hong Kong and the University of Macau as expert researchers. At the same time, it also receives master's or doctoral students majoring in law from universities and legal research institutions as judicial trainees, mainly engaged in judicial research, case study and other work. At present, two batches of 8 judicial trainees have been admitted. The trainees have collaborated with Hong Kong and Macao experts and researchers to participate in the research on the connection of cross-border commercial legal rules, and completed research work such as the "White Paper Series on the Connection of Cross border Commercial Legal Rules".

This article is an excerpt of an article published by Shenzhen Special Zone Daily and has been translated into English. If there is any inconsistency or ambiguity between the English version and Chinese version, the latter one shall prevail. The full text of the article, in Chinese, can be found below:

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