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2017 legal year opens

January 09, 2017

The ceremonial opening of the 2017 legal year was held at City Hall today.


Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma inspected the Ceremonial Guard mounted by the Hong Kong Police at Edinburgh Place.


Speaking at the ceremony, Chief Justice Ma said courts and judges are not immune to criticism and he accepts the right of people to comment on the courts' work, however, these views should be informed and measured.


"Over the past year or so I have sometimes received complaints from members of the public criticising the courts for the way they have dealt with certain cases.


"Dissatisfaction is expressed in the courts either not convicting persons of crimes or even if there were convictions, in imposing what are seen to be light, inadequate punishments.


"Correspondingly, dissatisfaction is also expressed when the courts have convicted or imposed what are seen to be heavy punishments.


"Whatever motivated these criticisms or comments, it is crucial to bear in mind the approach of the courts. In highly charged or high profile cases, all parties are treated in exactly the same way by the courts as in any other type of case."


Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen said community discussion on public affairs has become polarised and politicised, and every effort should be made to prevent this trend from eroding the foundation of the rule of law.


He added that the National People's Congress Standing Committee interpretation of Basic Law Article 104 will not harm the rule of law.


"The making of the interpretation has attracted much attention, both locally and internationally. On my part, I am confident that the rule of law in Hong Kong does and will remain well and alive after the interpretation.


"The way in which our judges professionally handled the legal proceedings during and subsequent to the making of the interpretation proves my point beyond doubt."