Hong Kong and Macau create channel to serve documents in civil proceedings
The Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau have created an official channel for those involved in civil and commercial litigation to serve documents on parties in the other jurisdiction.
The Arrangement for Mutual Service of Judicial Documents in Civil and Commercial Cases between the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the Macau Special Administrative Region (5 page / 87.5KB PDF) came into effect from 1 August 2020.
Prior to the arrangement, in Hong Kong proceedings such documents could only be served through private means, for example by hiring a law firm to serve the documents in Macau. Such private forms of service required approval by the Hong Kong courts and could be subject to challenge before the Macau courts.
The arrangement was signed in December 2017 but is now formally in force.
International arbitration expert Mohammed Talib of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law, welcomed the development.
“The arrangement is important to support the common choice of Hong Kong and international businesses working in Macau to resolve disputes through litigation and arbitration in Hong Kong,” Talib said.
“Similarly, where arbitral awards are enforceable against a Macau entity with assets in Hong Kong the arrangement will help to simplify enforcement proceedings. Equally, the arrangement will work to support Macanese businesses who have contracted with Hong Kong and international businesses with assets in Hong Kong,” Talib said.
Documents which can be served in respect of Hong Kong court proceedings in Macau include originating process and notices of appeal; summonses; pleadings; affidavits; judgments, decisions and rulings; notices; court orders; and certificates of service and their relevant attachments. Requests for service are to be made through the Court of Final Appeal of Macau and the High Court of Hong Kong.
The arrangement includes the requirements for the service of documents, including a letter of request. It requires that all such documents are in Chinese or translated into Chinese.
“This reflects the common official language of Hong Kong and Macau and will require documents that are in other languages to be translated into Chinese before service can be effected,” Talib said.