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Where do the laws in Hong Kong come from?
This is a rather difficult question for those unfamiliar with Hong Kong’s legal history. Before 1997, Hong Kong had been a British colony for around 150 years, and its laws largely consisted of English common law (i.e. court judgments and local customs) and codified local statutes. On 1 July 1997, Hong Kong was handed over to the People’s Republic of China (“PRC”), becoming the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (“HKSAR”).
According to the Sino-British Declaration signed in the 1980s, save for a few exceptions, PRC’s laws are not to apply in HKSAR before 2047, and Hong Kong people are to ‘preserve their existing way of life’ under the “One Country, Two Systems” framework. These guarantees are also included in the Basic Law, the mini-constitution for the HKSAR.
According to the Basic Law, the laws applicable before 1997, including the common law, rules of equity, ordinances, subordinate legislation and customary law, are still applicable after 1997 unless they contradict the Basic Law (e.g. laws relating to colonial governing structures), and they may be amended by the Legislative Council of the HKSAR. HKSAR is also a party to over 260 international treaties, which is not part of domestic law but may influence the court’s interpretation of domestic law.
The following are a number of legal practice areas (with examples and explanations) that may be helpful to know when finding a lawyer for the issue at hand:
Author: Irene Lee
Disclaimer: The article is for reference only and should not be construed or relied on as legal advice in whatsoever manner. Please engage a solicitor to seek formal legal advice. LegalClarus does not provide legal advice.