Former Essex Court Chambers QC joins Temple Chambers in Hong Kong

Jern-Fei Ng QC was the first of four senior counsel with Asia links to leave the sanctions-hit London chambers

Former Essex Court Chambers silk Jern-Fei Ng QC has joined Temple Chambers in Hong Kong in a move that looks set to broaden his practice in Asia.

Ng – the first of four QCs with strong Asia connections to leave sanctions-hit Essex Court this year – will practise as an arbitrator at Temple, one of Hong Kong’s leading commercial sets, while maintaining his counsel practice at 7 Bedford Row in London.

While practising in Hong Kong as an arbitrator, Ng will maintain his active counsel practice elsewhere in Asia as well as London, including in litigation before courts where he is admitted to practice, and in arbitration, leveraging his fluency in Mandarin Chinese, Cantonese and Bahasa. 

Ng’s choice of Temple Chambers will see him join forces with some of Hong Kong’s leading lights in international arbitration, including Rimsky Yuen SC, the former Secretary for Justice of the Special Administrative Region and a co-chair of the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (HKIAC). 

He becomes the set's second arbitrator, joining the respected former Hong Kong chief justice, the Hon Geoffrey Ma at the set. 

Ng said that since starting his practice “the geographical epicentre of my work as counsel and arbitrator has increasingly shifted eastward” adding that his decision to establish an arbitrator practice in Hong Kong reflected his belief in the SAR as “one of China’s leading commercial and dispute resolution hubs".

Ng will arbitrate in disputes involving international investors, Chinese state-owned enterprises, as well as Hong Kong and mainland corporates. The move will expand his practice within the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area, earmarked as a key region for economic expansion by China.

Ng said he would continue his existing relationships with HKIAC, as well as the Shenzhen Court of International Arbitration, ties reaffirmed recently on a business visit to Hong Kong. 

He added that he would also continue his work in Singapore – having recently been appointed to the board of directors of Maxwell Chambers - as well as being active within the Singapore Academy of Law, the Singapore International Arbitration Centre and Malaysia’s Asian International Arbitration Centre.

“I am the first on both sides of my extended family to attend university,” he said. “One of my grandparents was a lorry driver and one of my grandmothers left Guangzhou in China for what was then Malaya during the Second World War. I attended a state school in Malaysia and the prospect of joining a barristers’ set of chambers with a background such as mine was so improbable it never crossed my mind growing up. It is thus a real privilege that I am now able to lay claim to membership of such leading sets in two different jurisdictions.”

Ng's decision to leave Essex Court for 7 Bedford Row in London was reported a few days after China’s controversial decision to target his former set with sanctions in retaliation for a legal opinion on the treatment of the Uighurs by four tenants.

His arrival at Temple Chambers would appear to dispel any doubt as to whether, as a former member of Essex Court, Ng might be subject to sanctions in Hong Kong. It also opens the way for Allen & Overy's (A&O’s) former head of international arbitration, Matthew Gearing QC, to also join Temple as an arbitrator member.

Gearing, a past chair of HKIAC, had expressed an intention to join the set on leaving Allen & Overy, alongside a move to Essex Court, but later moved to Fountain Court Chambers in London, after the sanctions were announced.

The three other QCs to have departed from Essex Court this year are Salim Moollan and Vernon Flynn, who both landed at Brick Court Chambers, and Toby Landau, who now practices independently in London and from the newly founded Duxton Hill Chambers in Singapore.

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