Chinese Customary Law

Customary Trusts in Hong Kong: Uncertain Past, but Bright Future?

Friday, 20 November 2015
12:30 pm – 2:00 pm

Warren Chan Moot Court, CUHK Graduate Law Centre
2/F, Bank of America Tower, Central, Hong Kong (map)


Professor Steven Gallagher
Associate Professor of Practice in Law
Faculty of Law
The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Professor Amy Barrow
Assistant Professor
Faculty of Law
The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Conducted in English

Customary Trusts in Hong Kong: Uncertain Past, but Bright Future? 

Chinese customary trusts are only recognised and enforced by the legal system of the Hong Kong SAR and this only for trusts of land in the New Territories where there are approximately 7,000 Chinese customary trusts. This seminar first considers how Chinese customary trusts were incorporated into the law of Hong Kong. The seminar then continues with details of the characteristics of the different Chinese customary trusts that have been recognised in Hong Kong and their development by the courts.  The seminar concludes with a consideration of the claims that the founding of new Chinese customary trusts is “now generally (perhaps completely) dead” and that the Hong Kong government is discouraging their formation.

Applying a Gender Lens to the Small House Policy

The Small House Policy adopted in 1972 allows male indigenous villagers the opportunity to apply for permission to build during his lifetime a small house on a suitable site within his own village. The CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women) Committee has criticized the small house policy and called for the Hong Kong Government to repeal discriminatory provisions to ensure that indigenous women villagers have equal access to property under the policy. This talk considered how the continuation of the Small House Policy, a legacy of the British Colonial Government rather than a traditional right under Chinese Customary Law, appears outdated in the current socio-political context.

Steven Gallagher is a Professional Consultant, Associate Professor in Practice of Law and Associate Dean (Teaching and Learning) at the Faculty of Law at The Chinese University of Hong Kong, where he teaches equity and the law of trusts to undergraduates and postgraduates, and cultural heritage law at postgraduate level. Steven publishes texts on equity and the law of trusts in Hong Kong and the UK. He is a frequent speaker at professional development courses in Hong Kong. His research interests include the origins of the common law of trusts, special trusts, cultural heritage law and the law and the dead.

Dr. Amy Barrow is Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Law at The Chinese University of  Hong Kong (CUHK), where she is a founding member of the Centre for Rights  and Justice (CRJ) as well as Executive Committee member of the Gender Research  Centre, Hong Kong Institute of Asia Pacific Studies. As part of a General Research Fund (GRF) grant, Amy is currently undertaking research to evaluate the role of institutional mechanisms for the advancement of women in Hong Kong. Alongside her role in the Faculty of Law, Amy is a member of the WILPF Academic Network, a think tank that focuses on issues of gender, peace and security as well as a founding coalition member of the Everywoman, Everywhere Coalition, which works towards the global elimination of violence against women.

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