On 2 March 2016, the Law Society of England and Wales and the UK Society of Chinese Lawyers co-organised a Chinese New Year reception at the London office of Simmons & Simmons LLP to celebrate the Law Society’s launch of two new guides: Doing Legal Business in China and Doing Legal Business in Hong Kong. These brochures provide practical guidance to solicitors on practice rights in the respective jurisdictions, with key facts and content provided by two International Division Members: Llinks Law Firm in China and OLN Law in Hong Kong. With a significant amount of English solicitors practising in China and Hong Kong, the brochures couldn’t have been launched at a better time.

The reception was attended by over 100 guests, of which included Law Society’s president Jonathan Smithers, top UK solicitors, members of the UK Society of Chinese Lawyers, Counsellor Haitian Lu from the Chinese Embassy, representatives from China-Britain Business Council, Great Britain China Centre and prominent figures from the Bank of China’s London branch. With an impressive audience, the reception also provided the valuable opportunity for legal professionals from both countries to form vital business relationships.

Colin Passmore, Senior Partner at Simmons & Simmons opened the evening by sharing his personal experiences in China and highlighted the opportunities for UK and Chinese legal experts to work together, particularly in terms of the practical applications of English law in international transactions involving both jurisdictions.

Jonathan Smithers, gave a speech on the importance of Chinese and Hong Kong legal markets to solicitors of England and Wales. Currently, there are over 40 offices set up by English law firms in mainland China. He hoped to enhance the relationship between the Chinese and English legal profession during his upcoming trip to China at the end of March.

Dr Xiaojiu Zhu, from the UK Society of Chinese Lawyers gave a brief introduction into the work the Society does. UKSCL is an international, bilateral society open to members of the legal profession and those who are involved in the procurement of legal services in the UK and Asia. It aims to promote fellowship and a good understanding between the legal professions in Asia and the UK by organising regular networking events, panel discussions and other social activities.

The keynote address was given by Ms Liang Xiao, Deputy General Manager of Bank of China (London branch). She shared her experience of relocating to and conducting banking business in the UK to show how crucial it is to understand the local legal framework. On the topic of grasping the trend and timing, she quoted a famous Chinese poem by Du Fu, “Good Rain knows the season, and only falls when the spring comes”.

The Law Society has always had a close relationship with China and Hong Kong and very much looks forward to working on projects and initiatives with the two jurisdictions in the future.