04 June 2007

IPBA President steps down on a personal high

Sydney, 4 June 2007: Clayton Utz partner Jim FitzSimons has ended his term as President of the Inter-Pacific Bar Association (IPBA)[1] on a high note following the association's highly successful 17th Annual Meeting and Conference held recently in Beijing, China.

Mr FitzSimons joined over 700 delegates, including a large contingent from the host country, for the annual three-day conference, traditionally the highlight of the IPBA calendar.

Prior to the official start of the conference, Mr FitzSimons was granted an audience with Mr Luo Gan, one of the nine members of the Standing Committee of the Politburo, and Secretary of the Political and Legislative Affairs Committee of the PRC.

Mr Luo expressed to Mr FitzSimons his views on the important role of lawyers in helping to "oil the wheels of society" and the need for international contact and knowledge exchange between members of the profession.

Other notable members of China's political and judicial bodies who attended the IPBA Conference included Mr Zhou Yongkang, State Councillor; Mr Xiao Yang, Chief Justice of the Supreme People's Court; Mr Jia Chunwang, Chief Prosecutor of the Supreme People's Prosecutor General's Office; Madam Wu Aiying, Minister of Justice; Mr Wang Qishan, Mayor of the Beijing Municipal Government; Mr Zhao Dacheng, Vice Minister of Justice; and Mr Gao Zongze, President Elect of the IPBA.

Clayton Utz is currently hosting Chinese lawyer Mr Yongfa Xie under the "China-Australia Governance - Australian Leadership Awards Fellowships Program", a joint China - Australia government initiative[2]. Mr Yongfa is a Divisional Director of the Investment Promotion Division of the Provincial Department of Commerce in Hebei, north east of Beijing.

Mr FitzSimons said that one of the highlights of the conference was delivering his Welcome Address in the Great Hall of the People, home to China's National People's Congress. "The Hall is one of Beijing's truly grand structures - a wonder of modern architecture," he said. "To have the opportunity to mingle with local and foreign delegates and dignitaries in such a majestic setting was a great honour."

Mr FitzSimons said the success of the Annual Meeting and Conference proved yet again the value of the IPBA in bringing together lawyers with a common interest in the Asia-Pacific region. The interest of the Chinese Delegates in meeting foreign delegates underscored for Jim the huge strides China is taking in internationalising.

"It has certainly been a rewarding year. While I will miss the challenges of the President's role, I am proud to have contributed to the IPBA's advancement as a regional association of value and note."

At the Conference, Mr FitzSimons officially handed over the Presidency to Mr Gao Zongze of Chinese firm King & Wood.



[1] The Inter-Pacific Bar Association (IPBA)  is an international association of business and commercial lawyers with a focus on the Asia-Pacific region. The IPBA was founded in April 1991 at an organising conference held in Tokyo attended by more than 500 lawyers. Since this time, it has grown to become a pre-eminent organisation in the area of Asia law and business with a membership of approximately 2,000 lawyers from 67 jurisdictions around the world.

[2] The China-Australia Governance - Australian Leadership Awards Fellowships Program is a joint initiative of the Chinese Ministry of Justice, the All China Lawyers Association, Australia's Attorney-General's Department, the Law Council of Australia and the International Legal Services Advisory Council.

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