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A landmark agreement signed in 2019 to allow for wide-ranging reciprocal enforcement of judgments between Hong Kong and mainland China is finally due to take effect. The Mainland Judgments in Civil and Commercial Matters (Reciprocal Enforcement) Ordinance (Cap. 645) (MJREO) is set to come into force on 29 January 2024.
Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China and has its own separate legal regime. Therefore, special arrangements have been necessary to allow for cross-border enforcement of judgments between Hong Kong and mainland China. Previous arrangements were limited in scope and only applied to commercial contracts and monetary judgments. The MJREO will broaden the scope of applicable judgments and cover, not only a wide range of judgments relating to contractual and tortious disputes, but expressly includes judgments in respect of specified intellectual property right cases. The new regime will also cover both monetary and non-monetary relief.
Why does this matter to you?
The mechanism for mutual recognition and enforcement of judgments relating to intellectual property is an important and positive development. Intellectual property owners will now be able to seek enforcement against the assets of a defendant across the border without the need to start a fresh action. Overseas parties will have the option of suing in English, in a common law jurisdiction, and enforcing against assets held in mainland China.
The MJREO makes Hong Kong the first jurisdiction to have such an arrangement with China, strengthening its position as the venue of choice for resolution of disputes with a mainland Chinese connection, and as a regional intellectual property trading centre. It is important to note that the intellectual property provisions are complex, especially with regard to available relief, and there are significant exclusions which need to be considered carefully. However, the regime should better protect the rights and interest of businesses and result in greater certainty and expediency for parties litigating in Hong Kong or the mainland.
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