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Project Details
Funding Scheme : General Research Fund
Project Number : 17602218
Project Title(English) : The (Recognition and) Enforcement of Mainland Judgments in Hong Kong: A Regional Conflict of Laws Study 
Project Title(Chinese) : 內地判決在香港的(認可與)執行:區際衝突法研究 
Principal Investigator(English) : Dr Gu, Weixia 
Principal Investigator(Chinese) : 顧維遐 
Department : Department of Law
Institution : The University of Hong Kong
E-mail Address : guweixia@hku.hk 
Tel : 39174368 
Co - Investigator(s) :
Panel : Humanities, Social Sciences
Subject Area : Social and Behavioural Sciences
Exercise Year : 2018 / 19
Fund Approved : 590,000
Project Status : Completed
Completion Date : 31-12-2021
Project Objectives :
To compare the Mainland Judgments Ordinance and the Hague Convention to determine whether the Ordinance has reflected the true spirit of the international benchmark.
To compare cross-border judgment enforcement with that of cross-border arbitration enforcement since the handover so as to evaluate the extent to which the judgment scheme has been under-used.
To examine all cases which have referred to the Mainland Judgments Ordinance and to fill in the gaps of the law in action.
To provide a thorough review of the progress of and setbacks experienced by the Mainland Judgments Ordinance since its enactment, and to contribute to regional conflict of laws studies on judgment perspective.
To apply research findings and formulate reforms for the Mainland Judgments Ordinance with reference to: (a) China’s Belt and Road Initiative in economic expansion; (b) Singapore’s recent accession to the Hague Convention and exertion of delicate “pressure” on Hong Kong as competing rivalries of dispute resolution hubs in Asia.
To contribute to Hong Kong's ensuing role as an international dispute resolution center from the judgment perspective.
Abstract as per original application
(English/Chinese):

Realisation of objectives: In the GRF research proposal, the PI has suggested a research workshop (or small-scale colloquium) is desirable for the interactions between Mainland and Hong Kong judges on the reform of Mainland Judgments Ordinance and reform of the judgment quality in the Mainland. However, due to the political sensitivity of the topic, organizing a conference that is solely focused on the cross-border judgment enforcement is extremely difficult to be approved by the Mainland side. To find a way out, considering that the Mainland side is very interested in the cross-border regulatory cooperation in the field of securities and commercial law, the PI has therefore decided to tailor the conference to include the securities regulatory cooperation, but with the particular conference session focusing on the recognition and enforcement of foreign civil judgments. Because the PI does not specialize in securities law, she has invited a leading expert in securities law from the CUHK, Professor Robin Hui HUANG, to co-organize the conference, within which a special panel has been devoted to cross-border judgment enforcement. During the COVID-19 pandemic, inviting judges to the conference is quite difficult and sensitive, so unluckily the conference has not involved judges from Mainland and Hong Kong. But we have managed to invite leading academics on judicial cooperation from both Hong Kong and Mainland sides. To prepare for the conference, the PI has been in active contact with potential country experts and leading legal scholars in both Hong Kong and Mainland China. After sufficient preparation, a two-day online international conference was successfully co-organized by the PI. The conference was entitled “Securities Regulatory Cooperation over Cross-border Listings and Transactions”, held on 11 and 12 December 2020. And because the co-organizer of the conference also has a project of the Public Policy Research Funding Scheme (from the Policy Innovation and Co-ordination Office of the Government of Hong Kong), the PI and the co-organizer have joined their funding in hosting this conference. The conference gathered prominent scholars and practitioners from prestigious institutions of both Hong Kong and Mainland on cross-border judicial assistance. And it has attracted wide interests and a large crowd of about 500 audience, including officials from both Mainland China and Hong Kong. The conference information is available on the following website, https://webapp3.law.cuhk.edu.hk/conf/20201211/. To achieve research objectives and research outcomes, while planning the conference, the PI has already been working tirelessly on book proposals, working on substantial chapters (written by PI herself), and approaching potential publishers. The PI has been in strong wish to turn the research outputs of this project into a published monograph with internationally reputable publishers. Cambridge University Press (CUP) finally approved the book proposal at its Syndicate and the peer review reports by the international reviewers were encouragingly positive. Though the peer review process took longer than we had expected, everything had been worthwhile. The CUP publishing agreement was signed in September 2021, and the entire book manuscript will be submitted to CUP in due course. According to CUP’s consolidated peer-review comments, “the topic is definitely an important one, and the approach taken by the author is methodologically sound”. And this book will be very gap-filling, as the English academic world is “short of a monograph specifically focusing on this, especially from the perspective of Hong Kong”. The reviewer has also commented that the PI’s research approach, i.e., “to explore the ‘internal’ legal issues between Mainland China and Hong Kong first and then go on to examine how these could implicate ‘externally’” is a very “healthy and reasonable approach in this opening world”. In the Acknowledgements of the book, the PI will devote a special paragraph to thank the support by the GRF project scheme under the RGC. The book will be published soon at Cambridge. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a number of travel restrictions, the PI was unable to conduct research trips to Mainland China and the rest of the world to contextualize the research findings, but the PI indeed has conducted a few research trips within Hong Kong. In particular, the PI has visited the Department of Justice of the HKSAR, and met the legal officials, conducted relevant interviews and collected important research materials. The interviews with the legal officials from the Constitutional and Policy Affairs Division have greatly inspired and benefited the research of the PI. As such, the budget item, “Field Trip”, allocated in the project has not been much used. The PI has benefited tremendously from the GRF budget item, “Research Assistants”. The budget for hiring research assistants (RAs) has been deployed effectively in the sense that the RAs helped a lot in collecting literature in the initial period of research, and in analysing the interviews and materials the PI collected from the field trips. The RAs were again critical in the footnote checking and bibliography compilation stage when the manuscripts were completed to be submitted to journals and book publishers. Lastly but very importantly, the budget on “Teaching Relief” has enabled the PI to relieve teaching duties and to buy out her time for concentrated research. The PI has benefitted tremendously from the valuable “teaching relief” and have published quite prolifically in this project. The research outputs include 1 published monograph (by Routledge), 1 forthcoming monograph (by Cambridge University Press), 5 book chapters, and 6 journal articles. The PI is happy to report that all research outputs have been published by, or will be forthcoming with, world leading law publishers such as Cambridge University Press, Routledge, Hart, Kluwer, Edward Elgar and Springer, and world leading law journals such as Harvard International Law Journal and Cornell International Law Journal. Moreover, all the book chapters and journal articles have been solely authored by myself, which echoes the importance and effective use of “teaching relief” to relieve me from teaching so that excellent research outcomes can be achieved. To conclude, the PI is happy to submit that the research objectives have all been satisfactorily achieved, and the research funds are well and properly used. Major findings and research outcomes arising out of the GRF project will be summarized below, under Section 6.
Summary of objectives addressed:
Objectives Addressed Percentage achieved
1.To compare the Mainland Judgments Ordinance and the Hague Convention to determine whether the Ordinance has reflected the true spirit of the international benchmark.Yes100%
2.To compare cross-border judgment enforcement with that of cross-border arbitration enforcement since the handover so as to evaluate the extent to which the judgment scheme has been under-used.Yes100%
3.To examine all cases which have referred to the Mainland Judgments Ordinance and to fill in the gaps of the law in action.Yes100%
4.To provide a thorough review of the progress of and setbacks experienced by the Mainland Judgments Ordinance since its enactment, and to contribute to regional conflict of laws studies on judgment perspective.Yes100%
5.To apply research findings and formulate reforms for the Mainland Judgments Ordinance with reference to: (a) China’s Belt and Road Initiative in economic expansion; (b) Singapore’s recent accession to the Hague Convention and exertion of delicate “pressure” on Hong Kong as competing rivalries of dispute resolution hubs in Asia.Yes100%
6.To contribute to Hong Kong's ensuing role as an international dispute resolution center from the judgment perspective.Yes100%
Research Outcome
Major findings and research outcome: This research project contributes to the reform and development of a comprehensive and effective cross-border judgment recognition and enforcement mechanism. It provides not only comprehensive insights into the problems in the current cross-border judgment scheme but also suggestions and solutions. First, this research project examines in detail the achievements and inadequacies in the current Hong Kong statutory and common law regimes, particularly the Mainland Judgment (Reciprocal Enforcement) Ordinance (Cap. 597) (“MJO”). It argues that the MJO is far from adequate in terms of addressing the Hong Kong–Mainland economic and social dynamics and needs. Through a careful comparative study between the MJO and the Hague Choice of Court Convention, it reveals that the fundamental problem is that the MJO has been drafted much more restrictively than its international benchmark, the 2005 Hague Choice of Court Convention. As such, the MJO has failed to comply with the Hague spirit of promoting free flow of judgments across the border. Second, this research project conducts empirical case study, surveying all cases which sought to rely on the MJO since it took effect in 2008. It examines in particular those contentious cases where enforcement under the MJO is challenged and judgments interpreting the MJO are handed down by the Hong Kong High Court. Through the careful reading of those judgments, this project discerns the evolution of Hong Kong’s judicial attitude towards Mainland judgments, from a more conservative and stringent treatment of Mainland judgments towards a more pro-enforcement approach. This project showcases the jurisprudential patterns and explains that how they are shaped are contingent on a number of variables triggered by the particular context of those cases. It is concluded that while the judicial attitude by Hong Kong courts towards the Mainland monetary judgments in the early days was plagued by the restrictiveness of the understanding of the “exclusive choice of court agreement” and “finality,” the salient shift to a more liberal judicial interpretation in light of China’s development of the civil procedure system is much welcomed. Additionally, this project analyzes the prospects of Hong Kong in acceding to the 2005 and 2019 Hague Convention and developing an interregional judgment recognition and enforcement framework. It contemplates the possibility of a comprehensive multilateral judgment recognition and enforcement framework between the Mainland, Hong Kong, and Macau. The proposal of developing such an interregional framework draws on lessons learnt from the EU. The example of EU illustrates how the Brussels Convention promoted cross-border trade and investment in the EU by providing a channel of judgment recognition and enforcement with low cost and high legal certainty. From the earlier CEPAs that the Mainland signed with Hong Kong, to the most recent Greater Bay Area national strategy which will involve collaboration among Hong Kong, Macau, and the Mainland, a highly integrated region similar in nature to the EU single market in China is likely to be formed. An interregional framework comparable to the Brussels Convention may therefore be plausible in the cross-border recognition and enforcement of civil and commercial judgments among the three places. Entering into an interregional arrangement is a long-term vision which requires mutual trust, as well as persistent negotiation, communication, and coordination between Hong Kong and the Mainland.
Potential for further development of the research
and the proposed course of action:
There is a missing puzzle on the procedural law aspect of private international law regionalism. So far, there is no clear cross-border arrangement between Hong Kong and Mainland China regarding the issues of jurisdictional conflict as to how to coordinate parallel litigation before the Hong Kong courts and the Mainland courts on same civil and commercial matters. It is anticipated that such cross-border jurisdictional arrangement will be put on the agenda in the near future, and thus requiring further research. Moreover, the current GRF project is more focused on the procedural aspect of the private international law regionalism. Perhaps for further development, future research could turn its attention from procedural law aspect to substantive law issues. For example, the application of the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (CISG) in the cross-border contractual disputes (i.e., whether the CISG is applicable to the HK-Mainland cross-border commercial disputes) is a possible research topic to be explored. To be more specific, as one of the most important and widely adopted commercial law treaties, the CISG entered into force in Mainland China in 1988, and it will apply to the Hong Kong SAR with effect from 1 December 2022. Against this background, the CISG could be a very good starting point for the substantive law-based regional conflict of laws study. And the future research could aim to examine the private international law regionalism?s substantive law issues such as the CISG.
Layman's Summary of
Completion Report:
With the intensifying economic and social dynamics between Hong Kong and Mainland China since 1997, a comprehensive and effective cross-border judgment recognition and enforcement mechanism is imperative in order for Hong Kong to reinforce its role as a dispute resolution center in the perspective of judgments, in the context of the Belt and Road Initiative, and in the Greater Bay Area. This project examines in detail the achievements and inadequacies in the current Mainland Judgment (Reciprocal Enforcement) Ordinance, and reveals their tensions and inconsistencies with Mainland regimes and the 2005 Hague Convention on Choice of Court Agreements. It probes into the breakthroughs and outstanding issues of the new 2019 Arrangement between Hong Kong and the Mainland, as well as the prospects of Hong Kong in acceding to the 2005 and 2019 Hague Conventions and developing an interregional judgment recognition and enforcement framework. Through empirical case study, this project concludes by discerning the evolution or jurisprudential pattern of Hong Kong's judicial attitude towards Mainland judgments, from a more conservative and stringent treatment of Mainland judgments towards a more pro-enforcement approach. It is hoped that this project can contribute to, and stimulate greater interest in, the study of regional conflict of laws issues in Hong Kong with China.
Research Output
Peer-reviewed journal publication(s)
arising directly from this research project :
(* denotes the corresponding author)
Year of
Publication
Author(s) Title and Journal/Book Accessible from Institution Repository
2020 Weixia Gu  Belt and Road Dispute Resolution: New Development Trends  Yes 
2019 Weixia Gu  Hybrid Dispute Resolution beyond Belt and Road: Towards a New Design of Chinese Arb-Med(-Arb) and Its Global Implications  Yes 
2019 Weixia Gu  The Dynamics of International Dispute Resolution Business in the Belt and Road  Yes 
2020 Weixia Gu  A Conflict of Laws Study in Hong Kong-China Judgment Regionalism: Legal Challenges and Renewed Momentum  Yes 
2019 Weixia Gu  China: The Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Civil and Commercial Matters  Yes 
2020 Weixia Gu  Reflections on the Key Ingredients for Successful Reform of International Commercial Arbitration in the Asia Pacific  Yes 
2021 Weixia Gu  China's Law and Development: A Case Study of the China International Commercial Court  Yes 
2021 Weixia Gu  Dispute Resolution in China: Litigation, Arbitration, Mediation and their Interactions  Yes 
Weixia Gu  Private International Regionalism: Hong Kong's Cross-border Civil Judicial Cooperation with China and Global Implications  No 
2021 Weixia Gu  Harmonising the Public Policy Exception for International Commercial Arbitration along the Belt and Road  Yes 
2020 Weixia Gu  Arbitration in Comparative Perspective  Yes 
2020 Weixia Gu  China’s Approach to Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Civil and Commercial Judgments and International Litigation Capacity Building  Yes 
2020 Weixia Gu  Multi-tier Approaches and Global Dispute Resolution  No 
Recognized international conference(s)
in which paper(s) related to this research
project was/were delivered :
Month/Year/City Title Conference Name
Washington DC, US Asia’s Response to US Indo-Pacific Strategy: The ‘Belt and Road’ Case and International Law  American Society of International Law Annual Meeting 
Oxford, UK One Belt One Road and Thousands of Arbitrations in the Asia Pacific  IV Oxford Symposium of Comparative International Commercial Arbitration 
Munich, Germany Two Decades of the Handover and First Decade of the Mainland Judgments Ordinance in Hong Kong: A Regional Conflict of Law Study  Journal of Private International Law (JPIL) Biennial Conference 
Hong Kong China’s Belt and Road Development and A New International Commercial Arbitration Initiative in Asia  Challenges and Opportunities for International Commercial Arbitration and Investor-State Dispute Settlement in the Asia-Pacific Region 
Hong Kong Competition in the Belt and Road International Dispute Resolution  HKU-PKU 20th Anniversary Conference 
London, UK Challenges of Arbitration in Asia  Invited Keynote Speech at British Institute of International and Comparative Law (BIICL) 
Hong Kong Impact of Covid-19 on International Arbitration  Zoom Conference on Covid-19, International Law, and the Post-Pandemic International Order 
Hong Kong A Conflict of Laws Study in Hong Kong–China Judgment Regionalism: Legal Challenges and Renewed Momentum  Securities Regulatory Cooperation for Cross-border Listings and Transactions (Online international conference) 
Hong Kong China’s Law and Development: A Case Study of the China International Commercial Court  China and the International Legal Order Virtual Symposium 
London, UK The Interface between International Commercial Courts and Arbitration in Asia  Taking Stock: International Commercial Courts in Europe and Asia Conference (Virtual Conference) 
New Haven, Connecticut, USA Dispute Resolution in China: Litigation, Arbitration, Mediation and Their Interactions  Book Colloquium with Dr. Weixia Gu 
Other impact
(e.g. award of patents or prizes,
collaboration with other research institutions,
technology transfer, etc.):

  SCREEN ID: SCRRM00542