It’s A Small Small Law World

I don’t know if it’s something about Hong Kong, my particular practice or firm, or if it’s just a symptom of the times, but so much of my work involves multiple jurisdictions.  Here are just a few examples —

(1) I represented an individual from the U.S., being accused of insider dealing on the Hong Kong exchange in the stock of a Chinese company;

(2) I was brought in by a Canadian law firm to represent a Bahamian company in a dispute against a Chinese individual over a contract concerning Hong Kong stock;

(3) I advised the Singapore office of an American company on a contract to be governed by Hong Kong law.

I really can go on, but I’m sure you get my point. But what I want to really focus on in this, and possibly a few more posts, is how important it is to approach such cases with a high level of deference to your colleagues and counterparts in other jurisdictions. 

Having been involved in such multi-jurisdictional cases, sometimes my role is purely to navigate the client through the law in Hong Kong; but sometimes all that is needed is explain the law in a language to either our foreign co-counsel or to my own colleagues; sometimes my role is to try to figure out how two moving legal parts will end up colliding or not. 

Being a lawyer who speaks two law languages (US and HK) has been invaluable many times, especially since these multiple jurisdictional issues can get remarkably frustrating (not uncommon when dealing with egomaniacal lawyers!).  But the main advice I have is simply to always leave room for deference because up is actually not always up in someone else’s law world, and what you think is universally evident is not always the case.  The more willing you are to loosen your grip on what you think is the law, the better the outcome in such circumstances.

I think I will need a few more posts to explain what I’m getting at.  Stay tuned.


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