To sit/be exempt from sitting the OLQE, overseas lawyers must complete a prescribed form, Form A, and submit it together with supporting documents and the required fee.
The deadline for submitting the application to sit/be exempt from sitting the OLQE 2017 is FRIDAY 12 MAY 2017.
You will have to provide the following documents in support of your application:
- You must attach a passport size photograph to your Form A. The photo must be taken within 3 months of the date of your application.
- Certified copy of passport or HKID.
- Academic Records
- Certified copy of Transcript/Academic Record from the institution from which you obtained your law degree(s)/diploma(s). If you cannot do so, you should file a statutory declaration setting out the steps you have taken to obtain one and why you have been unable to do so despite those efforts.
- Certified copy of relevant degree certificate(s)(or equivalent).
- Certified copy of certificate evidencing professional examinations passed and courses attended.
If you are admitted in a common law jurisdiction only, you must show that you have completed courses in Contract, Torts, Property, Criminal Law, Equity, and Constitutional and Administrative Law.
If you studied “Trusts” or “Public Law”, you must get your college or university to verify in writing that the courses you completed Equity and/or Constitutional and Administrative Law, as the case may be. A syllabus will not do.
If you have not completed one or more of the required courses, you should explain on a separate sheet how your legal qualification has provided similar courses in substance or function OR give details that show that you have had practical experience in these areas of law. (InfoPack 2016 p. 29).
- Professional Qualifications
- Certified copy of your Admission/Call certificate (or equivalent) issued by the relevant professional body/court, as evidence of your professional qualifications/title (e.g. solicitor/barrister/attorney).
- You must obtain certificates for ALL the jurisdictions in which you have been admitted/called.
- Original Certificate(s) of Good Standing
- You must obtain an Certificate of Good Standing from the professional body/court in ALL jurisdictions in which you have been admitted/called.
- The Certificate must be an original – a certified copy will not suffice.
- The Certificate(s) must not be more than 4 months old at the date it is received by the Law Society.
You must also get a certified copy of certificate(s) evidencing professional examinations passed and courses attended.
You must provide Original letters of reference from your 3 nominated referees in support of your application for admission as a solicitor in Hong Kong.
- The reference letters must attest to your good character, fitness and suitability for admission as a Hong Kong solicitor.
- None of the referees must be close relatives. All referees must have known you well for 2 or more years. Two of the 3 referees must be practising solicitors or members of your professional body of at least 5 years standing either in Hong Kong or in the jurisdiction where you are already qualified. One the references must come from a partner of your current firm or employer (unless you are not currently employed), even if you have been with the firm or employer for less than 2 years.
- Employers’ letters verifying your professional practice and experience
You must provide details of your professional practice and experience undertaken, including articles/traineeship/pupillage (if applicable). Experience gained after the deadline for submission of applications will not count.
You must get letters from previous and/or current employer(s) verifying the professional practice and experience gained in the 10 years immediately preceding your application. Verification letters must include:
“(a) the capacity in which you were employed, the job title and the areas of law
(b) the period of employment with exact dates in day, month and year;
(c) the department(s) to which you were attached during the employment.” ((InfoPack 2016 p. 31).
(Note InfoPack 2016, Section F, pp. 20 – 27).
NOTE: where you are applying for exemption from a particular Head(s) because you claim to have relevant experience and knowledge in that Head, you must demonstrate that you have the necessary experience. Provide as much detail as possible. Your employer(s) letter must do more than simply state job title, period of employment and department. It must include details of:
“(a) the types of transactions undertaken by you (for example, an applicant attached to the Banking Department may have gained experience in different kinds of transactions including international loan facilities, securitisation, loan refinancing and restructuring) your specific role and the extent of your responsibility and involvement in those transactions;
(b) the types of clients you acted for (for example, banks and financial institutions and corporate borrowers and project sponsors);
(c) the work undertaken by you ( for example, drafting, negotiating, reviewing and settling loan agreements and security documents and so on);
(d) the specific experience gained from the work undertaken that is relevant to the Head from which you are applying for exemption. You are advised to review the syllabus of the Head when considering the relevancy of your experience.”
A letter which fails to provide such information is not likely to be enough for exemptions.
- The verification letter should be issued by a partner of a law firm, or by an officer at managerial level in a company.
- If the firm or company no longer exists, you should get your supervising principle to confirm it in writing and to verify your experience based on his personal capacity, information and knowledge.
- Sole practitioners should provide verification by third parties including fellow practitioners and clients.
Note that self-verification will not suffice, whether in the form of a statutory declaration or otherwise.