Hong Kong's Judiciary Under ‘One Country, Two Systems’
30 Pages Posted: 29 Aug 2017 Last revised: 13 Sep 2017
Date Written: August 27, 2017
Hong Kong, formerly a British colony and since 1997 a Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) under the constitutional formula of ‘One Country, Two Systems’, has a judicial system that is much more highly evaluated, trusted and respected internationally and locally than its counterpart in mainland China. The normative ideals of the Rule of Law and judicial independence were implanted on Hong Kong soil during the colonial era. Such ideals have remained alive and well, and more cherished and vigorously defended than ever before, after Hong Kong was re-unified with China in 1997. Under the Hong Kong Basic Law – the HKSAR’s constitutional instrument that was enacted by the PRC’s National People’s Congress in 1990 and came into effect in 1997 – Hong Kong enjoys a high degree of autonomy, and its pre-existing legal and judicial systems have largely remained intact, except, for instance, that a new Court of Final Appeal was established, which exercises the power of final adjudication in Hong Kong cases.
This paper provides an overview of the Hong Kong Judiciary, particularly those aspects of the judicial system that are relevant to the independence, impartiality and integrity of the courts and their judges.
The paper consists of the following sections:
(1) the structure of the judicial system;
(2) judicial features of ‘One Country, Two Systems’;
(3) appointment and conditions of service of judges;
(4) rules of bias and recusal;
(5) contempt of court by ‘scandalising the court’;
(6) judges and free speech;
(7) judges and non-judicial functions.
These sections will be followed by a concluding section.
Keywords: Hong Kong, judiciary, judicial system, courts, judicial independence, Basic Law
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