Interview Professor

Michael Tsimplis


How long have you been teaching at City University of Hong Kong? And what brought you here?

4  months. I have been working for 25 years in Academic and Research Institutions in the UK. I have been attracted by the dynamic character of the University and the prospects of developing new courses within a dynamic LLM environment.

What City University of Hong Kong? What is unique about it?

Both City University of Hong Kong and the School of Law are young academic institutions which have already achieved international reputation and continue improving in every aspect of academic activity be it research, education professional training and innovation. Progressive attitude, and internationalisation are the basic characteristics.  Staff coming from Asia, the  Americas, Australia and Europe contribute to teaching and  research influenced by developments in all parts of the world. This is further supported by a stream of visitors providing seminars and workshops with the local staff.
In terms of  legal studies, in particular, the comparative study of common law and the legal sustem of China provides opportunities in my field, to understand better the complexities of commercial and maritime litigation where the disputes involve trading with China. A particularly interesting characteristic of the LLM programme at CityU is the possibility of spending the second semester abroad in a partner institution.

What is your daily routine as a professor?

Daily routine differs in semester time, when teaching or exams are taking place, and outside the teaching periods. During semester time there is indeed a routine in the normal meaning of the word centered around the preparation and delivery of classes. For me this period is the more sociable part of the work because I enjoy teaching and  interacting with my students. Satisfaction, relied and disappointment are the outcomes depending on students doing well, ok or failing the course.
Outside the semester period works focuses on research and writing. There is no real routine during this period of time. This is actually a more stressfull period because the planned research has to be completed in the available time. However, the progress that will be made is unpredictable as thoughts and ideas develop as one works. Great satisfaction can be the outcome where a good piece of research is the final output. Occassionally, frustration develops, when the original research ideas prove difficult to materialise.

Which course(s) do you teach?

This year I teach 5 courses. Admiralty Law, a fascinating course dealing with liabilities arising from the operation of ships. The particular topic is  challenging because it utilises contract law and tort law together with an extensive framework of international conventions, appropriate for the regulation of an international activity like shipping. In addition it includes some types of rights which are unique and exclusive to maritime law for example the right to a salvage award and the obligation to contribute to general average. The second course I teach, Admiralty enforcement deals with the way civil claims can  be enforced against the ship in addition to any action against the wrongdoer shipowner. This stems from a concept of personalising the ship. Ship arrest has been a globally available way of obtaining security for maritime claims.
A third course is that of the Law of Bills of Lading. This course concerns bills of lading issued in the context of carriage of goods by sea. These documents are the backbone of international trade because they operate as receipts for the shipped goods, are used for requesting the delivery form ths ship at the port of discharge and evidence the contractual terms. In addition they have been supported by a statutory regime that ensures the transfer of the contractual rights on the basis of the the possession of bill of lading and several international regimes trying to regulate the rights and obligations between the sea carrier and the receiver of the goods.The third course concerns CONTRACTS FOR THE INTERNATIONAL SALE OF GOODS and in particular the operation of the 1980 International Convention on such contracts. The convention is trying to harmonise aspects of the national laws of contracting states to the convention and in that respect an understadning of the degree of harmosisation and the unavoidable comparison and coupling with national laws is crucial for every commercial lawyer involved with international trasactions. The fifth course I teach is titled Energey and Environment Law. This course is offered to lawyers and engineers and is concerned with the principles and systems used in environmental regulation and national and international level. It studies in particuar aspect of the environmental laws of HK, the international legal regime dealing with Climate Change and the way liability regimes operated under international law. All courses are delivered by a mixture of interactive teaching, group work, student presentations and written work aiming to develop knowledge but also usage of the relevant knowledge in practical situations.

How do you support young lawyers at City University of Hong Kong?

  • Career talks are organized from time to time.
  • Professional Development Advisor at the School offers advice on job hunting and CV clinics.
  • Students receive moot training and can participate in international moots.
  • Students are also eligible for various scholarships based on their academic performance among other factors.
  • Credit-bearing legal placement opportunities are provided to students.
  • Students are also offered chances to study overseas for one semester at University Paris 1, Fribourg University and more.
  • A series of seminars open to all academics and LLM students.
  • A student advising scheme is available to our students who encounter difficulties in their study.

What quallifications / prior knowledge do you require students to have in order to study at City University of Hong Kong (i.e. admission requirements but also soft skills)?

To be eligible for admission to CityU Master of Laws programme, applicants must satisfy CityU’s General Entrance Requirements and the following programme-specific entrance requirements:

  • holding an honours degree in law or equivalent qualification; or
  • having been admitted for professional practice of law in Hong Kong or other jurisdictions; or
  • having obtained either a Common Professional Examination (CPE) of the United Kingdom or Hong Kong with satisfactory results, provided that a second class honours degree has also been obtained; or
  • having obtained a Postgraduate Certificate in Hong Kong Law or Master of Arts/Laws in Arbitration and Dispute Resolution; or
  • (applicable to applicants for Maritime and Transportation Law Stream) holding an honours degree in maritime or logistics studies, or related disciplines, or holding an honours degree in any discipline with 3-year or above working experience relating to Maritime or Logistics industry;
  • AND
  • being proficient in English.

What do you value most about working at City University of Hong Kong?

The excellent relationship with academic and adminsitrative colleagues and the rich program of workshops, conferences and talks which provide endless opportunities for broadening knowledge and the ways of thinking.

What do you do in your leisure time?

Depending on the season I cook, exercise, swim, scuba dive, wind surf, sail, read and sleep. 

Name three term that you associate with the word „law“.

Evolution, human, maritime

You are planning a law-free weekend on a desert island and you are allowed to take only three things with you. What would they be?

Diving gear, barbeque, water.

Which advice would you like to give every young lawyer?

„.. attach no consequence to the place you are in, or the person you are with; but get books, sit down anywhere, and go to reading for yourself. That will make a lawyer of you quicker than any other way.“ A. Lincoln – letter to William H. Grigsby on August 3, 1858 available here.