HONG KONG, June 20 (Xinhua) -- China's Supreme People's Court (SPC) and the Department of Justice of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) signed here on Tuesday an arrangement on reciprocal recognition and enforcement of civil judgments in matrimonial and family cases, marking a new milestone in promoting mutual legal assistance between the two places.
The Arrangement on Reciprocal Recognition and Enforcement of Civil Judgments in Matrimonial and Family Cases by the Courts of the Mainland and of the HKSAR (the Arrangement), which aims to ensure that parties in the HKSAR and the Mainland can enforce relevant civil judgments in matrimonial and family cases through a clear and effective legal regime, was signed by the SPC Executive Vice President Shen Deyong and the HKSAR Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Shen said that after taking effect, the Arrangement can bring more tangible benefits to people in the two places by remarkably reducing the burden of multiplicity of suits on the one hand, and further enhance judicial mutual trust between the two places on the other, Shen said.
On the occasion of the 20th anniversary for Hong Kong's return to the motherland, the signing can be seen as another significant effort to implement and enrich the principle of "one country, two systems" in the form of legal documents, he said, expressing hope that legal profession in the two places continue to uphold the principle of "one country, two systems," scrupulously observe the Constitution and the Basic Law, and work for an overall system of mutual legal assistance.
Yuen said that the negotiation and signing of the Arrangement once again demonstrates that the differences between the two places' legal systems are no obstacle to cooperation, if both sides can foster mutual understanding and mutual respect in accordance with the spirit of the "one country, two systems" policy.
"Not only is the signing of the Arrangement today an important milestone in the context of mutual legal assistance between the two places, it is also the most recent example of the successful implementation of the Basic Law," he said.
In view of factors including the rising number of cross-boundary marriages and the increasing proportion of families having assets in both the Mainland and Hong Kong, different sectors in the two places generally agree that there is a pressing need to make an arrangement on reciprocal recognition and enforcement of civil judgments in matrimonial and family cases, Yuen said.
He added that such an arrangement can provide clearer legal protection for relevant family members, especially underage children, when problems arise from such marriages, and the parties' legal rights will not be prejudiced by cross-boundary factors or differences between the two legal systems.
The Arrangement will cover orders on individual identity and relationships, maintenance orders, custody orders in respect of children and protection orders in cases involving domestic violence. After the signing ceremony, local legislative procedure will be commenced so as to implement the Arrangement.
Yuen said that the mutual legal assistance between the two places in civil and commercial matters entered a new stage in March last year when the SPC signed minutes with the Department of Justice agreeing to actively take forward works on three aspects, including the Arrangement on Mutual Taking of Evidence in Civil and Commercial Matters signed in December last year, as well as the Arrangement signed on Tuesday.
"In order to expand the scope of recognition and enforcement of judgements on civil and commercial matters, we will study the feasibility of using a framework arrangement to further cover different types of court judgments on civil and commercial matters," he added.
Yuen pointed out that there are differences between the legal and judicial systems of Hong Kong and those of the Mainland, but that does not mean that there cannot be effective mutual legal assistance.