Macau's Legal System, An Eye Opener To Students

As most legal studies focus on making sure law students are equipped and well versed with the legal system of the country they study in, Taylor’s Law School takes a step further to diversify its legal education by providing opportunities to its students to learn and understand foreign legal systems.

In its effort to provide a holistic education, Taylor’s Law School organised a study trip abroad to Macau with 33 law students from Year One and Year Two, to study and understand the legal system in Macau. The week long educational journey from March 24-28, 2013 was under the care and supervision of Law School lecturers, Anne Vergis, Lai Mun Onn and Marcin Rogowski. The Law School was privileged to have Associate Professor Rostam J. Neuwirth, Faculty of Law at the University of Macau, to help arrange the tour in Macau.

“This trip was an eye-opener as I was given the opportunity to get to know about other types of jurisdiction besides the common law jurisdiction practiced in Malaysia and also the United Kingdom” said an excited Saw Li Lian, law student of Taylor’s Law School.

These law students were provided with the opportunity to appreciate the differences between the Macau, UK and Malaysian legal system and institutions as well as understand why such legal systems operate in a certain way. The comparative study is one of the elements in the mode of teaching at Taylor’s Law School with the aim to inculcate critical thinking and broaden the knowledge gained at Taylor’s.

Going beyond the legal dimension, the entourage not only gained expert knowledge but also experienced the culture and lifestyle in Macau while networking with the legal fraternity. Such trips have gained much interest amongst students and constitute as a useful interactive way of cultivating the students’ team spirit and social networking skills.

Macau was chosen because it follows the Portuguese Civil Law System which is different from the Malaysian and the UK Common Law System. As Macau is a part of China, a Communist country, the legal system in Macau is unique because it is under a special arrangement of the “1Country 2 System” of which Macau is allowed to follow the Civil Law System.

“What was good about the trip was learning about how the civil law differs from common law which we get to compare and know about the advantages and disadvantages,” shared Tan Tyy Pey , law student of Taylor’s Law School.

The first destination was to the Macau Court of First Instance (Tribunal Judicial de Base) of which the entourage was greeted by Manuel Trigo, Director of the Legal and Judicial Training Centre. While students were briefed about the workings of the Macau Court, the academics had a brief chat with the President of the Court of First Instance, Tong Hio Fong. Informative talks on the “Introduction on Macau Judicial System & Organisation” by a court judge and “Macau Prosecution System and Organisation” by the Assistant Prosecutor General of Macau, Paulo Martins Chan, offered insight to the differences between Macau’s Legal System and the Malaysian Common Law System, in particular, the role of the Prosecutor, where he is considered to be part of the Judiciary. The speakers also took pains to provide notes and presentation slides on the freedom Macau enjoys with the interference from China.

Other institutions visited were the tour of the Legislative Assembly of the Macau SAR of which the entourage was greeted by the Secretary General, Stella Leong Soi U and the Faculty of Law of the University of Macau. At the University of Macau, students were privileged to hear from Senior Instructors Denis de Castro Halis, Henrique Carvalho, Fernando Miguel Dias Simoes and Sten Idris Verhoeven as well as Lilian Ng, a post-graduate student who spoke on the various aspects of the law in Macau as well as on arbitration, piracy and economy of Macau.

“I was happy to see students demonstrate their independence, initiative and responsibility by taking part in the organised activities, giving their full cooperation as well as looked after each other throughout the trip, especially during the free time. It was also a good opportunity for students to get to know each other better and leave Macau with enriched knowledge about the legal systems in Macau,” enthused Anne Vergis, Deputy Dean, Taylor’s Law School.

As part of the programme, law students Christie Wong, Gam Peih Fenn and Vivien Chew commendably presented on topics focused on the introduction of the Malaysian Legal System and Laws, an overview of the Malaysian Legal System, the Rule of Law and the issue of consent in Malaysian Tort Law which illustrates how English Law is used in Malaysia.

“Overall, this was a very educational yet fun trip, and it was indeed a great experience. Most important of all, this trip has brought us closer in friendships and closer in our relationship with our lecturers. This has been a great experience for all of us. I would do it all over again if I have the chance!,” said Ooi Hui Ying, law student of Taylor’s Law School.

The study trip was also incorporated with a city tour of Macau where students learned about the history of famous historical sites such as the famous St Paul’s ruins. The entourage had a breakaway time on their own where students explored the city on their own and did some shopping before leaving for Malaysia.