Lawyers bill to be tabled

March 21, 2023

The Government will table a bill at the Legislative Council tomorrow to handle matters concerning the participation of overseas lawyers who are not qualified to practise generally in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in cases involving national security.
The Department of Justice explained that the bill is in line with the spirit of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee’s interpretation of Article 14 and Article 47 of the National Security Law on December 30, 2022.
Moreover, it pointed out that the bill seeks to amend the existing mechanism for admission of overseas lawyers in Hong Kong on a case-by-case basis by introducing new provisions for the handling of ad hoc admission for the purpose of national security cases.
It will not affect ad hoc admission of overseas lawyers in criminal and civil cases not involving national security, the department added.
The bill will provide an overriding principle that an overseas lawyer must not be admitted for a national security case, unless the Chief Executive has sufficient grounds for believing that the lawyer’s practising or acting as a barrister for the case does not involve national security, or would not be contrary to the interests of national security.
Additionally, it will provide a mechanism for the Chief Executive to determine if an application may proceed and if it falls within the above-mentioned exceptional circumstance.
There will also be another mechanism to enable the Chief Executive to review the matter when there is a change of circumstances after an ad hoc admission is granted.
The department said the bill will not affect ad hoc admission applications made or handled by the court prior to the bill’s enactment.
The LegCo Panel on Administration of Justice & Legal Services was consulted last week and it expressed support for the legislative proposal.
Gazetted today, the Legal Practitioners (Amendment) Bill 2023 will be tabled at LegCo on March 22.

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