The University of Hong Kong was established in 1911, and the Department of Law was formed in 1969, with four teachers and forty students. On 1 July 1984, the Faculty of Law was created, comprising the Department of Law and the Department of Professional Legal Education. The Department of Law has responsibility for the Bachelor of Laws (LLB) and legal education components of undergraduate mixed degree programmes including the BBA(Law) and BA(Government and Law). The Department of Professional Legal Education is responsible for the Postgraduate Certificate in Laws (PCLL), a one-year course of practice-oriented instruction which is a prerequisite to legal qualification in Hong Kong. Both departments contribute to postgraduate coursework programmes including a variety of LLM and Postgraduate Diploma programmes. The Faculty of Law also offers the research degrees of MPhil, PhD and SJD. At present, the Faculty has approximately 100 staff and at any given time over 1,800 students.
Reflecting Hong Kong’s position as perhaps the leading international commercial and financial centre in Asia, commercial, corporate and financial law has long been one of the main areas of strength of the Faculty of Law and has been selected as one of the Faculty’s six areas of strategic development. To support development of commercial, corporate and financial law expertise, in 1998 HKU awarded the Faculty a Distinguished Visiting Professorship, which was taken up from January 1999 to June 2000 by Professor Joseph J. Norton, then Sir John Lubbock Professor of Banking Law at the University of London and James L. Walsh Distinguished Faculty Fellow in Financial Institutions Law and Professor of Law at the Dedman School of Law, Southern Methodist University. During his tenure at HKU, Professor Norton, along with Professor Say Goo and other colleagues working in the area of commercial, corporate and financial law, led the establishment of both AIIFL and the Master of Laws in Corporate and Financial Law “the LLM(CFL)” at the Faculty of Law in July 1999. AIIFL was established to assist the Faculty of Law in developing a partnership with other units at HKU and with the local business and financial communities for establishing a leading Asian academic centre in the area of international commercial, corporate and financial law. Professor Norton and Professor Say Goo were named founding Executive Directors of AIIFL and Professor Goo was named founding Director of the LLM(CFL). Professor Charles Booth was appointed Director of AIIFL from December 2000 to December 2005. Professor Douglas Arner was appointed Director of the LLM(CFL) in July 2002 and served as AIIFL Director from January 2006 to June 2011. Professor Say Goo became Director in July 2011.
AIIFL serves as an umbrella for the research activities of its Fellows (drawn from the Faculty of Law and HKU generally) and its Honorary and Visiting Fellows (academics and professionals from outside HKU). Building upon the solid basis established by its founding co-Executive Directors, AIIFL has continued to forge ties with research institutes and other institutions, both regionally and globally. The research activities of AIIFL Fellows cover a broad spectrum of areas, with much attention currently focusing on the on-going reform of commercial, corporate and financial law throughout the region. Reflecting the success and significance of commercial, corporate and financial law, in 2005, HKU selected constitutional, corporate and financial law and policy as one of twenty-one research themes within eight strategic research areas for developmental support for multidisciplinary collaboration at the University. In 2008, HKU reinforced this role in announcing the creation of a new strategic research theme, Law, Policy and Development, with commercial, corporate and financial law as one of its four subthemes. AIIFL acted as the centre for this sub-theme and research group, under the co-covenorship of the AIIFL Director from 2008 to 2012. In 2012, the Hong Kong University Grants Committee granted a major Theme-based Research Scheme project to AIIFL and other participating centres to research on “Enhancing Hong Kong’s Future as a Leading International Financial Centre”.
Since its establishment, AIIFL through its fellows and staff has developed into the leading academic research centre of its kind in the Asia-Pacific. AIIFL organizes and hosts large numbers of conferences, visitors and research projects as well as significant involvement in policy advice and commentary and training. From an early stage, visitors were supported by the Koo & Partners / Paul Hastings Visiting Professorship in Corporate and Financial Law, which has brought many of the world’s leading corporate and financial law scholars to AIIFL, as has a close partnership with the Corporate Law Studies Interest Group, a joint research programme with the Chinese University of Hong Kong. A new AIIFL-Companies Registry Corporate Law and Governance Distinguished Lecture Series, funded by the Companies Registry of the HKSAR, will bring even more.
Dozens of books, articles and events have resulted, and are chronicled in these pages.
Today, AIIFL focuses on seven major research areas:
Corporate governance and company law
Financial law and regulation
International economic law and policy
Taxation law and policy
Insolvency and restructuring
Competition / antitrust
Real estate law and finance
In each of these areas, AIIFL has developed a strong reputation evidenced by significant research, publication and policy involvement. Going forward, we seek to build on our achievements to increase our impact in Hong Kong, China, the region and around the world and welcome contacts sharing similar interests.