The World Economic Forum recently identified two key obstacles to the commercial space industry’s growth. The first obstacle is the lack of domestic regulatory regimes for commercial space activities. The second obstacle is the rampant proliferation of orbital debris. These obstacles are well-known in the industry and amongst its lawyers. What is less well known is that Hong Kong law already addresses both concerns. First, Hong Kong’s Outer Space Ordinance (Cap. 523) has provided a regulatory regime for commercial space activities since 13 June 1997. Second, the relevant regulator – the Office of the Communications Authority – has since 31 July 2017 required all commercial space activities to comply with international best practice for debris mitigation. Despite the prescient nature of Hong Kong’s regulatory regime for commercial space activities, it remains under-analyzed in the space law literature – and often unknown in Hong Kong itself. Perhaps more concerningly, the last licence was issued in 2018; the regulatory guidance has not been updated since 2017. Is this the beginning of the end of the first phase in the development of Hong Kong’s commercial space law? Or is this the beginning of the end for Hong Kong commercial space law as a whole? These questions frame this seminar, which will explore the Outer Space Ordinance’s idiosyncrasies, outline the need for reform, and highlight the points of interface between the Outer Space Ordinance, the mainland Chinese space laws, and international space law.
About the Speaker:
Mr. Jack Wright Nelson, Editor, Annals of Air and Space Law, McGill University; Adjunct Research Fellow, National University of Singapore; Consultant, King & Wood Mallesons.