Legislation on arbitration has been in force in the Macau Special Administrative Region since before the handover to China. According to the legal regime of internal arbitration, arbitration may be employed in any dispute that does not respect inalienable rights, provided that the dispute is not submitted by special law to a judicial court or necessary arbitration.
A new Urban Planning Law has been enacted which deals with the objectives and hierarchy of urban plans, but with the prevalence of a master plan to establish strategic guidelines for the entire Macau Special Administrative Region. The law binds public and private entities to urban plans and determines the responsibility of the Land, Public Works and Transport Bureau for technical assessment of urban planning.
Two recent criminal cases have seen Macau's highest court called to intervene as if it were a first instance court, and publicly voice its desire to change its existing competence. The Law of the Judicial Organisation states that the Macau Special Administrative Region enjoys independent judicial power, including that of final decision. The last instance court has suggested that a review of the basic law should take place.
The purchase and sale of units in buildings under construction is common practice in Macau's real estate market. However, the legal regime for real estate transactions in Macau does not cover buildings under construction. New legislation has therefore been proposed in order to enhance the transparency of transactions, streamline the performance of the market and safeguard the interests of the parties concerned.
Financial activity in Macau is regulated by the Financial System Act. Activity as a financial intermediary requires prior authorisation and must be subject to advice from the Monetary Authority of Macau. All authorised and licensed institutions are bound to a special registration with the monetary authority prior to the commencement of their activities and are subject to its supervision.
Speculation in the housing market has boomed due to Macau's economic development. The government sought to contain this by imposing a special stamp duty on property or property rights transactions; however, it soon became clear that the scope of such duty was too limited. Therefore, a new law seeks to expand the special stamp duty to other forms of property, as well as imposing a new tax on housing transactions.
A new draft law lays down the principles governing the investigation of air accidents and incidents and the processing and protection of air safety information. If passed, it is expected to reduce an already low accident rate, despite the projected increase in Macau's air traffic in the coming years.
The Mainland/Macau Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) aims to promote preferential access to the Chinese market for qualifying products, companies and residents of Macau. Supplement IX to the CEPA, which was signed recently, revises previous measures regarding the trade and investment facilitation sector in order to strengthen this area.
The Macau Special Administrative Region has seen economic growth accelerate in recent years, mainly due to the liberalisation of the gaming industry, a mainstay of the local economy. This, together with the fact that the public administration must keep pace with the latest technological advances, led to a demand for the amendment of the Commercial Registry Code.
Nine years after the entry into force of the Macau Commercial Code, the government decided to review and improve it in regard to new business needs arising from the economic development of the Macau Special Administrative Region. Among other things, the amendments promote the use of modern information technology by companies in communications with shareholders and document storage.
In 2008 a temporary Bank Deposit Guarantee Scheme was implemented which assured the reimbursement of deposits held in all banks authorised to operate in Macau, with the exception of those considered 'offshore'. Although there was no real need to resort to the scheme, the measure was deemed a success. A draft law to establish a permanent scheme has now been presented to the Legislative Assembly.
In order to address the problems arising from the large number of people working in the real estate sector who lack the necessary competence, the government recently requested that a comparative study of the legislation which governs the sector in other countries and regions (eg, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Portugal) be carried out with a view to developing a draft law to be submitted for public consultation.
The recent economic growth in Macau has led to a sharp rise in housing and office property prices. To counter the speculation in the housing market and to ensure the healthy and sustainable development of the property market, the Legislative Council has passed a bill to stabilise the housing market by introducing a special stamp duty on property and property rights transaction within two years of the transaction.
The Court of Final Appeal has clarified conflicting interpretations of the law which had been endorsed by two separate Court of Appeal judgments. The case in question related to a civil claim for damages to be deducted in a criminal proceeding. The court had to define, in a tort law situation arising from a wrongful act, the date from which the obligation becomes liquid, and hence, the date from which the debtor is in default.