• Research

CityU establishes Hong Kong’s first maritime and transportation law centre


Shirley Pang

City University of Hong Kong (CityU) School of Law established on 18 March the Hong Kong Centre for Maritime and Transportation Law (the Centre) to nurture maritime and transportation legal professionals in support of Hong Kong’s continued development as a maritime service centre and to consolidate its position as an international transportation hub.

The inauguration ceremony was held at CityU. Officiating guests at the ceremony included the Hon Leung Chun-ying, Convenor of the Non-official Members of the Executive Council and Council Chairman of CityU; Professor Way Kuo, President of CityU; Mr Yau Shing-mu, Acting Secretary for Transport and Housing, HKSAR; Mr Kenneth Koo, Chairman of Hong Kong Shipowners Association; Professor Wei Kwok-kee, Dean of College of Business, CityU; Professor Wang Guiguo, Dean of School of Law, CityU; and Dr Vernon Nase, Director of the Centre.

There is a need for a specialist maritime and transportation centre to strengthen academic studies and research in this area in support of Hong Kong’s continued development as a maritime centre. In response to this need, CityU School of Law set up the Centre to develop research projects and offer courses in maritime, aviation and other areas of transportation law.

Mr Leung said, “Hong Kong enjoys many advantages, including geographical location, language skills and the rule of law. We should make use of these advantages to upgrade the maritime industry and speed up its reform. Hong Kong could provide value-added shipping and maritime-related services such as management consultancy and insurance to the fast-growing mainland ports to create a synergy effect. With a solid foundation in the industry, Hong Kong has the virtues to become the Asia Pacific maritime services centre.”

Professor Kuo said, “We believe the Centre is well positioned as an integrated research centre to meet the requirements of industry, the practicing bar and academics. Research projects will be instrumental in planning future strategies to develop value-added legal services in maritime and transportation for Hong Kong. We hope the Centre can help the government and industry identify potential issues and formulate related policies.
"The establishment of the Centre has rapidly gained the support of the community after the idea was conceived,” he added. “CityU met with representatives of the Transport and Housing Bureau and the Hong Kong Federation of Insurers, who provided valuable feedback. And Mr Kenneth Koo agreed to serve as Advisor of the Advisory Committee.”
Professor Wang said, “We are discussing with well-known experts in maritime law of several universities in the US, United Kingdom, South Korea and the Mainland to develop a LLM programme in maritime and transportation law. The School of Law and College of Business are making joint efforts on offering cross-disciplinary courses for students and industry practitioners.

Dr Nase pointed out that there is increasing recognition that maritime law is best studied in the wider context of transportation, including air, rail and road transportation. Comparative studies in related industries are in progress. He hoped the report of the studies could provide insights and resolutions to expand the market for Hong Kong.

A conference titled “Recent Developments and Issues in Maritime and Transportation Law, an Asia-Pacific Perspective” was held on 18 and 19 March to mark the establishment of the Centre. It provided a platform for scholars from around the world to analyse the latest changes and share experiences on issues of common interest. Prominent scholars such as Professor Robert Merkin of the University of Southampton, United Kingdom, Professor Charles Norchi of University of Maine School of Law, US, Professor Lee-sik Chai, Dean of School of Law of Korea University, South Korea, and Professor John Mo Shijian, Dean of Faculty of International Law, China University of Political Science and Law, China, presented significant papers at the conference.