London Study Tour, dated September 2011

On 14-15th Sept 2011, Mr. Ambrose Lam, headed a delegation of the Law Society of Hong Kong, to visit the Solicitors Regulation Authority and a few law firms in London, including the New Quadrant Partners LLP, Fishburns LLP, Irwin Mitchell LLP , Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP and Nabarro LLP in order to study the Legal Disciplinary Practice (LDP) and Alternative Business Structure (ABS) development in the UK.

Briefly, the LDP enables the firm to appoint non-solicitors lawyers and other non-legal professionals to provide legal services, i.e. it enables the lawyers from different professional bodies, for example, solicitors and barristers, to work together; It also enables the firms to appoint non-lawyers managers, to enhance the provision of legal services.

To cope with the transformation, An independant Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has been established to regulate the LDP and ABS firms; the main objective of the SRA is to protect the public interest, for which it established the outcomes-focused regulation, that the firms must provide the right outcomes for the clients regardless the way the firms used. There is a great flexibility for the firms in handling the clients’ case.

Below attached some photos of the delegation’s visit:-

Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA):

Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA):

Fishburns LLP - which consists of 21 partners:

Fishburns LLP – which consists of 21 partners:

Fishburns LLP – which consists of 21 partners:

The delegation also visited Marks & Clerk LLP, a specialist of Intellectual Property practice, for which the managing partner Mark Blair pointed out that it is a “classic example of the need for LDPs”, however, has not turn itself into LDP yet

As China’s economy becomes increasingly integrated with the rest of the world, it is a natural trend for its currency, RMB, to become more widely used in trade and investment activities. Hong Kong was the first offshore market to launch RMB business back in 2004. Furthermore, during the recent visit of Vice Premier Li Keqiang to Hong Kong in Aug 2011, Li declared Beijing would do more to ensure the growth of Hong Kong as a hub of RMB transactions. Under the Foreign Direct Investment Scheme, Hong Kong is given the exclusive right to directly repatriate RMB back to the Mainland.  So local and foreign firms will be able to send RMB directly back to the Mainland without any foreign exchange losses. Vice-Premier Li further said that more Chinese Companies would be allowed to issue the so-called ‘dim-sum bonds’ in Hong Kong, as compared with only financial institutions and foreign firms which are allowed currently. ‘Dim sum bond’ refers to a RMB bond issued in the offshore RMB bond market in HK. Any issuer can issue RMB bonds in accordance with the usual regulatory and market practices in HK.

Related legal work to RMB denominated bond issuances include:

  1. Advising an issuer on the structure that best fits a particular issuer’s financing requirements.
  2. Preparation of Bond issuing documentation (eg. prospectus) for issuers.
  3. Advising on listing aspects.
  4. Conducting due diligence and advising the appropriate level of disclosure for RMB denominated bond offerings.
  5. Advising in handling any applicable regulatory issues in HK or the PRC.
  6. Assisting issuers in dealing with paying and lodging agents with clearance/settlement issues.

This change in status in Hong Kong may bring in considerable legal business.

London is the biggest US currency offshore financial centre and the following firm was part of the firms visited by the delegation which has the relevant practice(s):-

14th Sept 2011 – Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP :

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