Jonathan Crompton is a board member of Justice Without Borders (JWB). He is also a Hong Kong-based litigator in international law firm RPC .
Jonathan has worked with JWB since 2015. His unwavering support for our cause has followed his professional journey over the past eight years. At the heart of it all is a marriage between our mission – to advance access to justice to migrant domestic workers (MDWs) – to what Jonathan describes as his core beliefs.
“I was and am committed to the importance and message of JWB, which is that everybody should be able to have a fair shot through the legal and court system of Hong Kong and elsewhere, no matter who they are,” he said. “That’s the core message that really resonates with me.”
Jonathan’s private practice work focuses on major cross-border commercial and banking disputes. He also leads the cyber breach incident response team at his firm. Like many of our other legal practitioner supporters and partners, assisting JWB on civil litigation matters involving MDWs requires not only a fundamental willingness to help but also a desire to look beyond the needs of major corporations, and apply the lessons from their daily practice to help individuals who are less privileged.
“JWB matters can be a bit more challenging because there’s a direct personal impact,” said Jonathan. “You are often dealing with individuals who are upset – they don’t understand why they have been treated the way they have and genuinely need someone to say that they believe them and are on their side.”
The work can be a little out of his “comfort zone” in terms of professional practice, says Jonathan, but in those situations he can call on the expertise of other law firm partners of JWB. This is a negligible hurdle in the grand scheme of things.
There are layers at play here, he explains. It is not just about winning the cases for MDWs but also working to make employers, authorities and the legal aid departments think twice before behaving badly or simply dismissing claims. According to Jonathan, it’s a journey towards “raising the bar”.
“To me, as a litigator, I focus on the fact that we can help migrant domestic workers,” said Jonathan. “They shouldn’t have to flee the country when they have been mistreated and they shouldn’t believe that if and when they leave, that’s it for their case, they’re done. There should be cross-border civil and criminal recourse for that, just as there would be for anybody else.”
But to understand the struggles that MDWs face, one has to first look at the backdrop of how Hong Kong really works, “how it ticks,” he says.
“The work and support provided by migrant domestic workers has been proven to add significant value to the Hong Kong economy, freeing women to join the workforce and enabling dual household incomes. Yet, migrant domestic workers are still called ‘helpers’ (including in the English versions of HKSAR government terminology) and other terms that undermine their value as important employees,” he said.
As a JWB board member, Jonathan’s assistance and support goes beyond advising on specific cases. He is actively involved at the Board level, helping to arrange and attending the firm’s monthly board meetings, commenting on and approving corporation documentation, reviewing budgets, operations, and strategy.
He has also been involved in our mentorship programs in Hong Kong. In our first installation, Jonathan gave presentations on civil claims and disputes. He also provided hands-on support during mentor-mentee workshops discussing the types of issues that may arise and how to spot the first signs of legal problems that migrant domestic workers often face.
“I understand the mentorship programs have been extremely helpful – the mentees have gone out into the community to help identify other MDWs experiencing problems,” said Jonathan. “It’s what JWB does, creating and setting up structures, with a view to it no longer being needed.”
And in his time, the bright spots are shining brighter, even if it means they tend to follow stormy days. Each conversation or introduction he has made with regards to JWB not only reaffirms the organisation’s cause and mission but it also widens the network of supporters.
“Everyone that I talk to in my professional circles responds well to our message and mission,” he said. “The message resonates.”
“JWB’s goal is to work towards a societal and structural change so that it no longer needs to exist. It has been established for almost ten years and has made good progress, but it’s a long way from no longer being needed.”
By Jess Seah, PR Volunteer @ JWB
Platinum sponsor series features our platinum sponsors in 2021. They share their experience in teaming up with JWB, why they are passionate about helping migrant workers and how this partnership makes a difference.