Hong Kong clears further five solicitors to appear in court

Five additional Hong Kong solicitors have been cleared to appear in the city’s courts following a second round of applications for higher rights of audience (HRA) in September.

The lawyers, who have not been required to undergo any assessment in order to obtain the approval, bring the total number of qualified solicitor-advocates in the city to 24, following a move by the city in 2012 to expand the scope of work law firms are permitted to handle.

The partners include Mayer Brown JSM matrimonial disputes partner Jonathan Mok, Baker & McKenzie associate Ambrose Ng and Fried Frank consultant Philip Nunn – who heads the litigation and arbitration practice for Fried Frank in Hong Kong and is also a consultant to the London office.

It also includes commercial and insurance litigator Kevin Bowers, co-managing partner of Reed Smith spin-off firm Howse Williams Bowers, and Hong Kong solicitor Eric Cheung, a principal lecturer in the Faculty of Law at Hong Kong University.

All of the lawyers have been approved to appear in civil cases except Cheung who can appear in criminal.

Legislation allowing solicitors to be involved in court proceedings in Hong Kong first came into effect in June of 2012, allowing those with relevant experience to work at the High Court, Court of Appeal and Court of Final Appeal.

Barristers had previously dominated court roles, despite Hong Kong-qualified litigators being involved in almost all behind-the-scenes tasks such as preparing pleadings, putting together evidence and sourcing witnesses.

The first round of applicants for HRA were accepted in September of that year, and were split between those applied HRA after training and assessment and those with advocacy experience who requested an exemption from training.

A Higher Rights Assessment Board (HRAB) made up of a panel of judges, barristers and senior solicitors, was set up to decide whether to grant HRA to the lawyers, while the College of Law in Hong Kong agreed to administer the training course.

The first to be awarded higher rights by way of exemption included a number of partners from international law firms, namely Skadden partner Paul Mitchard QC, Baker & McKenzie duo Gary Seib and Kareena Teh – Teh now at Dechert – and Allen & Overy arbitration partner Matthew Gearing.

They also included Mayer Brown JSM partner Nicholas Hunsworth, Sidley Austin international arbitration practice co-chair Yang Ing Loong, now at Latham & Watkins, and Ashurst senior associate and former barrister Sanjay Sakhrani.

Those who were given approval to appear in court after training were announced in March this year; among them Allen & Overy (A&O) senior associate Kevin Kee and Ernst and Young in house attorney Regina Fan.

In the first round, a total of 90 solicitors applied for the rights in the hopes of being excluded from assessment while a further 30 applied with a view to assessment.

A full list of qualified solicitor-advocates in Hong Kong is as follows:

Geoffrey Booth, HALDANES, criminal

Kevin Bowers, HOWSE WILLIAMS BOWERS, civil

Denis Brock, KING & WOOD MALLESONS, civil

Eric Cheung, FACULTY OF LAW, THE UNIVERSITY OF HONG KONG, criminal

Chris Dobby, HOGAN LOVELLS, civil

Regina Fan, ERNST & YOUNG, civil

Matthew Gearing, ALLEN & OVERY, civil

Pak Hau, CHU CHARLES & KENNETH SIT, civil

Nicholas Hunsworth, MAYER BROWN JSM, civil

Jason Karas, LIPMAN KARAS civil

Kevin Kee, ALLEN & OVERY, civil

Tak Hong Kwan, KWAN & CHOW, civil

Paul Kwong, KWONG & CO, PAUL criminal

Jonathan Midgley, HALDANES, criminal

Paul Mitchard SKADDEN ARPS, SLATE MEAGHER & FLOM, civil

Jonathan Mok MAYER BROWN JSM, civil

Ambrose Ng, BAKER & MCKENZIE, civil

Ludwig Ng, ONC LAWYERS, civil

Philip Nunn, FRIED, FRANK, HARRIS, SHRIVER & JACOBSON, civil

Sanjay Sakhrani, ASHURST, civil

Gary Seib, BAKER & MCKENZIE, civil

Kareena Teh, DECHERT (formerly Baker & McKenzie), civil

Mark Tollan, MAYER BROWN JSM, civil

Ing Yang Loong, LATHAM & WATKINS (formerly Sidley Austin), civil