President’s Report for 2013-2014
Dear Fellow Members:
On behalf of the Council and the Committee members, I take pleasure in reporting the activities of our Association (“SAMLAW”) for the past year of activities. We have been established for more than two years and have about 700 members consisting of both solicitors and barristers. We are pleased to provide members with increased services for your professional needs and development.
Firstly, we are pleased to announce that we are allowing advertisements and announcements to be posted on the SAMLAW’s website. One of the key features of the website is “Find a Lawyer”. This is a space where members can post and share their CV. It can be accessed on our website under “尋找律師” or by clicking on the following link: http://samlaw.hk/index.php/2014-03-06-07-47-04. Interested members can submit their particulars through our website as from 30th November 2014.
Advertising space is also available on the right side column of our homepage. The fees are as low as $200/month for members and $1,000/month for non-members. For members who are interested, please provide to us a picture of your advertisement of JPEG file format in the dimensions of 300 pixels x 388 pixels.
B. Taxation Hourly Rate
As members are aware, the taxation hourly rate has not increased since 1997. We have been conducting a “Survey on the Need to Increase Hourly Rates on Party and Party Taxation”. About 300 interviewees have completed the survey. From the results, 86.41% of the interviewees expressed that the existing hourly rates allowed on party and party taxation does not reflect on the actual costs reasonably incurred by solicitors and their staff. 41.46% of the interviewees opined that the existing hourly rates should increase 10%. 79.44% of the interviewees urged for the need to set different hourly rates for solicitors over 10 years of practice. We are committed to our members in striving for an increase in the taxation hourly rate. We will urge the Judiciary and Secretary for Justice for an increase.
C. CPD Courses
Throughout the 2013 - 2014 CPD year, we have organized 16 accredited CPD courses, 2 visiting tours to the mainland, 2 press conferences and various welfare activities. We are committed to continue providing high quality, interesting and useful CPD courses. We will start recruiting solicitors and barristers to be our speakers shortly.
The Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement, also known as CEPA, allows for the cooperation between the legal industries of both Hong Kong and the Mainland including partnership as well as the setting up of representative offices. Since the ties became closer between the two professional bodies, there resulted in a high-degree of mutual growth and benefits.
Currently, the requirement for Hong Kong law firms to have partnership with the mainland law firms in Guangdong are: (1) five years of legal services according to Hong Kong and Macau legal registration; (2) more than 10 lawyers (partners, associates, etc.) qualified from Hong Kong or Macau or if two or more law firms jointly participate, at least one of the firms must have more than 10 lawyers and the other firm should have 5 or more lawyers; (3) qualifications to practise the laws of Hong Kong, Macau and other countries; (4) prior to application, law firm(s) must not be disciplined by the local Law Society for the past three years and the representative Mainland firm must have not been disciplined by the equivalent disciplinary organization; and (5) Hong Kong law firms of a partnership shall have not less than 30% and not more than 49% of the shareholdings.
SAMLAW is committed to help members lower the entry rule requirements so as to provide members of small and medium sized law firms with more diverse business opportunities.
E. Pro Bono Legal Services - “Anti-Occupy Central” Helpline
A new Helpline have been launched since 1 September 2014 to provide up to 30 minutes of free legal consultation on “Anti-Occupy Central” claims. The helpline will operate from 2:30 pm to 5:30 pm, Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays), connecting enquirers to a panel of solicitors or barristers who volunteer up to 30 minutes of free legal consultation for each inquiry. Callers lodging the required information including name, ID number, telephone number and date of the incident will be contacted within 5 working days.
Our free legal consultation is indiscriminate to all callers. Enquiries relating to both Occupy Central and Anti-Occupy Central are welcome.
F. 2014-2015 Membership fees will be increased from $150 to $200
Starting 1st November 2014, our annual membership fee will be adjusted to HK$200. New members will still have to pay an extra HK$100 subscription fee.
TOGETHER WE CREATE. Do support SAMLAW and renew your annual membership by paying HK$200 for 2014 - 2015.
The Small and Medium Law Firms Association of Hong Kong