The Supreme Court’s press office has just announced that Lords Phillips, Hope, Mance, Clarke, and Lady Justice Arden (as the Lord Chief Justice’s appointed representative in international affairs), will together visit the People’s Republic of China, including the Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong.

Lord Phillips has commented, with great judicial restraint and understatement, that “clearly the judicial context in mainland China is different from our own, but there is still much that we can discuss and share with our hosts” – though one suspects the issue of respect for human rights such as the right to free speech may not be on the agenda.  The Court’s press release instead states that the following will be discussed, which suggest that the trip may be focussed towards improving trade links: “The importance of the rule of law, judicial independence, the role of courts in enforcing the regulation of international business, and the benefits of the creation of the UK Supreme Court“.

The visit will last for eight days, commencing in Beijing on 19 September 2011 before moving onto Hong Kong.  The delegation will visit the main courts including the Supreme People’s Court and law schools in order to share their experiences with judges and academics in those two contrasting jurisdictions.  The Justices will then be returning to the UK in time for the start of the new Court year on 3 October.

More information is available in the press release, which is accessible here.