2020 legal year opens

January 13, 2020

The ceremonial opening of the legal year 2020 was held at City Hall in Central today.


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


In a speech, he said that he was aware of the volume of cases that are before the courts relating to the events of the past seven months, adding that the vast majority of cases are at this moment simply not ready for trial.


“In order to cope with the expected high volume of cases, the Judiciary has made plans to deal with such cases (at whatever level of court) expeditiously.


“A task group has been set up for some time now to look into how best and how expeditiously our courts can cope with these cases. Relevant stakeholders will be consulted on suggested measures. These include proposals to sit extended hours.


“I must, however, emphasise that while expedition is desirable and we will do our best to achieve this, it is important to bear in mind the overall importance of a fair trial.”


Mr Ma also noted that anyone is entitled to criticise and comment on the work of the courts, but they must be on an informed basis.


So far as the cases related to recent events are concerned, one must bear in mind the constitutional requirement of a fair trial, he added.


Also speaking at the event, Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng said the state of turmoil in Hong Kong in 2019 has put us through the most difficult times.


She added that many of Hong Kong’s core values have been under challenge and the core value closest to our hearts, the rule of law, is no exception.


“In ordering the continuation of an interim injunction to restrain doxxing and harassment against police officers on an internet-based platform, the High Court reminded that ‘the promotion and maintenance of the rule of law is not sensibly or rationally pursued by repeated and escalating breaches of the law’, and ‘persons who commit such crimes are simply, and properly described as, 'criminals'.


“Criminal activity does not cease to be criminal activity simply because the actor believes himself or herself to be acting for a particular, perhaps higher, cause".


Given that this was the final occasion that Mr Ma would address the Opening of the Legal Year before his retirement in January next year, Ms Cheng conveyed her sincere appreciation for his contribution to the rule of law, and efforts in retaining and attracting talent of the highest professional quality for the Judiciary to administer justice.

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