The Basic Law in the Courts: Learning to Live with China and a Changing Hong Kong

Published in Tai-lok Lui, Stephen W.K. Chiu and Ray Yep (eds.), "Routledge Handbook of Contemporary Hong Kong" (Routledge, 2018) at pages 52-65.

University of Hong Kong Faculty of Law Research Paper No. 2018/034

Posted: 2 Jul 2018 Last revised: 15 Oct 2018

See all articles by Danny Gittings

Danny Gittings

University of Hong Kong, College of Humanities and Law, School of Professional and Continuing Education; The University of Hong Kong, Faculty of Law

Date Written: July 13, 2018

Abstract

This article considers the track record of the Hong Kong courts during the first two decades following the territory’s reversion to Chinese sovereignty.

It finds that the judiciary in Hong Kong has been remarkably successful in building up a solid body of jurisprudence that takes a distinctly common-law approach towards interpreting the Hong Kong Basic Law and protecting the wide array of fundamental freedoms guaranteed by this constitutional document. However, after an initial stumble, the courts have been careful to calibrate their judgments in order to avoid any further directly confrontations with the Chinese central authorities, a task which has become increasingly difficult in recent years as Beijing has begun to adopt a more hands-on approach towards Hong Kong.

The judiciary have also had to grapple with the consequences of the more politicized nature of Hong Kong society. This has seen the courts face increasing criticism for judgments on politically related issues, a trend which has gathered pace since the 2014 Umbrella Movement and the subsequent court cases relating to these protests.

Keywords: Judiciary, Judicial Independence, Public Opinion, Judicial Process, Non-Democratic Regimes, Hong Kong, China

JEL Classification: K

Suggested Citation

Gittings, Danny, The Basic Law in the Courts: Learning to Live with China and a Changing Hong Kong (July 13, 2018). Published in Tai-lok Lui, Stephen W.K. Chiu and Ray Yep (eds.), "Routledge Handbook of Contemporary Hong Kong" (Routledge, 2018) at pages 52-65.; University of Hong Kong Faculty of Law Research Paper No. 2018/034. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3195731

Danny Gittings (Contact Author)

University of Hong Kong, College of Humanities and Law, School of Professional and Continuing Education ( email )

34/F United Centre
95 Queensway
Hong Kong

HOME PAGE: http://hkuspace.hku.hk/about-us/people/chl

The University of Hong Kong, Faculty of Law ( email )

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Hong Kong
Hong Kong

HOME PAGE: http://hub.hku.hk/cris/rp/rp01854

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