2019 legal year opens

January 14, 2019

The ceremonial opening of the legal year 2019 was held at City Hall in Central today.


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


Mr Ma said in a speech that courts at every level have adjudicated on controversial cases in the past year.


Such cases have emanated from controversial political or social events, he said, adding that people have at times had vastly different views on them.


“It is no part of a court's function or duty to adjudicate on political or social issues, nor economic ones, whether siding with one extreme or another, or finding some sort of middle ground to solve the community's political, social or economic concerns.


“Rather, at all times, the court is concerned with dealing with one aspect and one aspect only: a resolution of the legal issues arising in the dispute before it.”


Mr Ma added that constructive criticism of the courts is always welcome and every person has the freedom of speech. However, he said the criticism must be informed and not be based on misunderstandings or inaccuracies.


Also speaking at the event, Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng said there were totally baseless, arbitrary and even malicious attacks on judges simply because the outcome of some cases was not to the liking of those making the attacks.


Ms Cheng said such acts should not be tolerated.


“Careful reading and correct understanding of court judgments would often dispel any unwarranted misunderstanding.


“With a view to raising public awareness and assisting the public to better understand significant decisions of the courts, the Department of Justice has prepared summaries of judgments of notable cases with substantial media or public interest. 


“We hope that this initiative, together with the Hong Kong e-Legislation database which provides free access to all legislation of Hong Kong, would enhance accessibility of the law for the general public and foster better understanding of the law so as to encourage healthy and informed discussions.”


She also announced that the long-awaited arrangement between Hong Kong and the Mainland on reciprocal recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters will be concluded and signed in the near future.


Other measures and arrangements to enhance the city’s position as a dispute resolution hub are also being actively discussed with promising feedback, she added.

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