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By virtue of the Rules of the High Court (Amendment) Rules 2020 and Rules of the District Court (Amendment) Rules 2020, the Arrangement for Mutual Service of Judicial Documents in Civil and Commercial Cases between the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the Macao Special Administrative Region (Arrangement) came into force on 1 August 2020. Under the Arrangement the Hong Kong and Macao courts may entrust each other with the service of judicial documents.
Service of judicial documents in Macao prior to 1 August 2020
Prior to 1 August 2020, there were no official channels for making requests for service of judicial documents by the HKSAR to Macao and litigants had to arrange service of such through private channels, for example, by engaging lawyers in Macao to serve them.
This situation was not satisfactory, as such private channels could be subject to legal challenge before the court. It was therefore desirable to provide for certainty by way of amendments to the Rules of High Court and Rules of District Court to enable litigants to use an official means to effect service.
The Arrangement largely follows the Arrangement for Mutual Service of Judicial Documents in Civil and Commercial Proceedings between the Mainland and Hong Kong Courts signed by the Supreme People’s Court and the High Court of Hong Kong in January 1999.
The Arrangement contains the following key provisions:-
With the close involvement of Hong Kong companies in construction projects in Macao, be it as a contractor or supplier, the Arrangement will provide an alternative means of service of Hong Kong court documents in Macao. The advantage of the Arrangement is that it can avoid legal challenges on service of court documents via private channels. The disadvantage is that it could take up to 2 months to serve the court documents. From our experience in disputes in foreign projects, parties have sometimes used both the official and private channels to effect service of court documents.
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