【Overseas Lawyers Qualification Examination (“OLQE”)】
The Law Society maintains an open door policy to enable overseas legal talent to enter the solicitors’ profession to provide competent legal services in Hong Kong. This is not only for the benefit of the legal profession and legal service users, but also for the benefit of Hong Kong as an international financial and dispute resolution centre. Such a supply of overseas legal talent is premised on the OLQE being conducted professionally to ensure the maintenance of the highest standards of the entrants to the solicitors’ profession through the OLQE.
Notwithstanding the recent public order events, interest of overseas legal talent to practise in Hong Kong remains high. The Law Society received applications from a total of 322 applicants out of whom 273 were eligible to sit the 2019 OLQE.
In March this year, the Law Society conducted a consultation to invite members’ views on proposed increases in examination fees. The consultation document was sent to all solicitors (totalling 10,880), all trainee solicitors (totalling 1,390), all registered foreign lawyers (totalling 1,617) and other associate members (totalling 15). At the end of the consultation period in May 2019, the Law Society received 11 responses, a response rate of 0.079%. All respondents except one were in favour of the increases. The majority of the respondents agreed that the increases were reasonable, especially as the fees have not been raised in the last 20 years. The OLQE should be self-funded. The user-pays principle should apply and the Law Society should not be required to subsidize any deficit in operating the OLQE from membership fees.
Contingency measures have been implemented for the conduct of the 2019 OLQE in the light of the recent public order events. Additional expenses have been incurred in rescheduling and relocating the examinations.
The Council has resolved to proceed with the legislative amendments to implement the increases in examination fees. Members will be kept informed of the progress of the legislative amendment exercise and as stated in the consultation document, due notice will be given to candidates on the increases.
Melissa K. Pang
(Information from The Law Society of Hong Kong)