Legal year opens

January 8, 2018

The ceremonial opening of the legal year 2018 was held at City Hall in Central today.


Speaking at the ceremony, Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma said criticisms of the Judiciary can be constructive as such views can spur improvements to be made where necessary.


He added the Judiciary has always been open to constructive suggestions, but comments should be made on an informed basis.


“Sometimes, there may be a tendency to associate what may be the desired result in court proceedings with the integrity of the court system itself or with the integrity of the judge or judges involved. This is particularly so in those high profile cases that Hong Kong has seen in recent years.


“These are the types of cases that emanate from political, economic or social origins. It is therefore essential that any comments that may be made about the work of the Judiciary, whether seemingly positive or negative, should be done on an informed basis.”


He emphasised courts and judges are concerned only with the law and the legal issues which arise in any dispute to be determined by them.


“It is not relevant, nor is it any part of their constitutional duty to adjudicate on political, economic or social issues as such without reference to the law. In particular, political or other affiliations or biases are simply not relevant at all, whether in favour of or detrimental to the person involved.”


Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng noted the Basic Law provides fundamental principles to be observed.


However, she said the drafters of the Basic Law could not have foreseen all future scenarios, adding the wisdom of such drafting is in the inherent flexibility of the Basic Law to allow developments over time whilst preserving the fundamentals that must be observed.


“The Basic Law, like any other law, is open to different interpretations. This diversity is augmented by the differences in the approaches to the understanding and interpretation of laws by the two different legal traditions. 


“Having said that, this difference, like any other legal issue, must be resolved through an appreciation of the ways in which conflict of laws rules and concepts in comparative law studies should be applied.”


She said exchanges of views in good faith and mutual understanding of the reasons for differences inform an objective legal analysis. 


“The pursuit of proper interpretation will no doubt challenge the greatest of legal minds. With a common goal to implement a particular policy, a legal solution can be achieved.”

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