CUHK Hosts Workshop: “How do our laws protect the elderly in Hong Kong?”

In our aging society in Hong Kong, there has been growing public attention on the range of laws and policies that affect older persons’ needs and aspirations. Professor Mimi Zou and Ms. Jennifer Lee-Shoy at the Centre for Rights and Justice, Faculty of Law at The Chinese University of Hong Kong recently organised a workshop on “How do our laws protect the elderly?” Its main aim was to provide a multi-disciplinary forum for different professionals and stakeholders to learn about how the law in Hong Kong affects older persons in diverse aspects of their lives. The workshop was funded by the CUHK Knowledge Transfer Project Fund (“KPF”) and United College’s Lee Hysan Foundation Research Grant and Endowment Fund Research Grant Schemes.

The event attracted nearly 150 participants, including social workers, health care professionals and administrators, leaders of local NGOs and community organisations, senior representatives from the Department of Justice, students, lawyers, and other stakeholders involved in the provision of various services to elderly persons in Hong Kong. A Legislative Council member was also in attendance.

The workshop had three speakers: Dr. Gabriel Hung, a Specialist in Psychiatry and a non-practising Solicitor of the High Court of Hong Kong; Mr. Azan Marwah, Barrister at Gilt Chambers; and Mr. Shaphan Marwah, Barrister at Baskerville Chambers. The speakers explored key issues, including the assessment of mental capacity underpinning guardianship and enduring power of attorney, prevention of financial, physical, and emotional abuse of older persons, as well as the relevance of human rights in Hong Kong’s Bill of Rights Ordinance and the Basic Law for older persons.

The workshop is a knowledge transfer activity that has emerged from a project that Prof. Mimi Zou has undertaken for the past two years. The project entails a comprehensive study of legal issues facing our aging population, drawing on comparative insights from nearly 50 countries. These issues include legal protections against age discrimination; work and retirement; capacity issues and substitute and supported decision making; end-of-life issues; estate planning and management; long-term care and healthcare; protections against elder abuse; and access to justice for older persons. In 2016, she started Elder Law at CUHK. The project won the Faculty of Law’s inaugural Innovation in Teaching Award.

It is hoped that the workshop and Prof. Zou’s project more generally will contribute to ongoing legal and policy developments in Hong Kong that will enable people to grow old in good health, live with dignity and autonomy, and participate as active and full members of society.

(From left): Ms. Jennifer Lee Shoy, Mr. Fernando Cheung, Prof. Mimi Zou, Mr. Shaphan Marwah, Mr. Azan Marwah and Dr. Gabriel.