Set overview in Hong Kong Bar

The Hong Kong Bar sees many similarities to that of England and Wales, with a split legal profession between self-employed barristers handling advocacy in court, and solicitors in law firms. Historically, Temple Chambers and Des Voeux Chambers have been the pre-eminent barristers’ sets, and whilst they remain two of the largest and most well-established chambers, they are by no means the only notable sets, with other key chambers including Denis Chang’s Chambers, Andrew Liao SC's Chambers, Sir Oswald Cheung's ChambersRede Chambers (which was created in Spring 2022), as well as other notable practitioners being members of micro-chambers.

Just as the rest of the legal world was greatly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, Hong Kong was no exception. While there was a slight slow down of work, barristers remained busy with high-value, complex, and significant commercial disputes still occurring. In 2023, counsel began to witness some of the longer-term effects of Hong Kong’s stricter approach to travel restrictions compared to other jurisdictions (and China’s with the rest of the world), with an increase in relocation and child abduction cases in the private law arena as a result of the imposition of, then removal of, stringent travel policies. Family law, administrative and public law, and regulatory matters continue to be core areas of work for barristers, in addition to property mandates, which often overlap with commercial disputes; work crossing over between practice areas does not faze Hong Kong barristers, who generally run more full-spectrum practices than lawyers in some other jurisdictions.

A growing area in Hong Kong is competition work. This practice area is a relatively new one for the jurisdiction, but a selection of high-quality Silks and juniors are already proficient in its workings, and the area is predicted to continue to expand with more cases in the coming years. Another growing area of focus for Hong Kong is promoting itself as a jurisdiction for arbitration, with more and more contracts seeing arbitration clauses included - even though Singapore has largely overtaken Hong Kong as a forum for matters without a Chinese element. Disputes with cross-jurisdictional elements also continue to be on the rise.

Work highlights