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17 April 2007 — Honourable Chief Justice Andrew Kwok Nang Li of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China Speech During the Inauguration of the DIFC Courts

17 April 2007 — Honourable Chief Justice Andrew Kwok Nang Li of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China Speech During the Inauguration of the DIFC Courts

April 17, 2007

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17 April 2007

Opening Ceremony of the Courts of the Dubai International Financial Centre on 17 April 2007 Speech by the Honourable Chief Justice Andrew Kwok Nang Li of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China

I am most honoured to be invited to this Opening Ceremony for the Courts of the Dubai International Financial Centre.

The Centre is a visionary and exciting enterprise which has attracted great interest from all around the world. The Courts are an essential institution of the Centre. So, this Opening Ceremony is a momentous occasion. On behalf of the Judiciary of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, I wish to convey our warmest greetings and congratulations to the Centre’s Courts and the Chief Justice at this historic ceremony.

The Courts of the Centre will be applying laws based on common law principles. The common law system is widely used in many jurisdictions around the globe. It is of particular significance that the common law applies in a number of leading international financial centres : London, New York, Hong Kong and Singapore.

As has been famously observed, the life of the common law has not been logic; it has been experience. With the accumulation of experience over centuries, the principles of the common law embody wisdom gained over a very long period of time. The common law offers many advantages. First, the common law, reflecting the principles of certainty and fair dealing, is well understood and well used by those engaged in international trade and finance. It has stood the test of time as an effective system of law.

Secondly, a unique feature of the common law is its ability to evolve dynamically to meet the changing needs and circumstances of society over time. This ability is the source of the great and enduring strength of the common law as a system of law. With globalisation and the tremendous advances in technology, the international business environment is changing rapidly. The principles of the common law have been, and will continue to be, able to develop over time to meet the fast changing needs of business.

Thirdly, the common law has the potential to adapt to local circumstances in a pragmatic way. It has been successfully modified in its application in a particular jurisdiction, where this is considered appropriate in the jurisdiction concerned. However, although the common law is not uniform in all jurisdictions that apply it and the approach to some problems may be different in various jurisdictions, its spirit and core principles have remained essentially the same in the common law world.

No system of law can properly function without a sound procedural framework. The Centre’s Courts will be equipped with the most modern court rules. These would enable the Courts to conduct effective case management and to administer justice in an efficient, expeditious and cost effective manner. This of course is essential in order to meet the expectations of the Courts’ users.

International business enterprises would use arbitration and mediation to resolve their disputes where this is considered to be suitable, having regard to the nature of the dispute and the circumstances of the parties. As with courts in all international finance centres, the Centre’s Courts will no doubt be alive to and where necessary will facilitate the use of these alternative dispute resolution methods by the parties.

It is beneficial for common law courts in international financial centres to interact with each other. Judicial decisions in a particular common law jurisdiction are commonly considered and cited in other jurisdictions. This process is greatly facilitated by the Internet. Apart from the use of comparative jurisprudence, there is much to be gained by the exchange of views and the sharing of experience on matters of mutual interest. I am sure that the courts in Hong Kong would derive considerable benefit from learning about developments in the Centre’s Courts and from interacting with them.

The Centre’s Courts face interesting challenges in fulfilling their role as an institution of fundamental importance in the Centre. I wish the Centre’s Courts every success in its exciting endeavours in the years ahead.

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