Monday, February 29, 2016

Sherif Elgebeily Comments on UN Security Council Sanctions Against Islamic State

On Friday 20th November, the United Nations Security Council adopted resolution 2249 calling on UN members to take “all necessary measures” in redoubling and coordinating the prevention and suppression of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Some may long to interpret this resolution as a green light for all-out war; nonetheless, this is one thing that it certainly is not. So what is the purpose of the resolution? And what could explain such ambiguity in the text?
    On the surface, the terminology used is almost identical to resolution 1973 which authorised NATO intervention in Libya in 2011: ‘all necessary measures’ rather than ‘all necessary means’. Academics with prior knowledge of Council terminology will easily pierce the legalese veil to understand this to mean use of force; in turn, the use of force is authorised under article 42 of the UN Charter, which falls under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. Herein lies the key distinction: the missing reference in resolution 2249 to Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which grants the requisite legal authority to the use of force. From a purist’s approach, without both a determination of the threat to the peace – article 39 of the UN Charter – and an explicit reference to Chapter VII, military intervention would be illegal.
     Yet the resolution is still valuable, albeit in a more surreptitious and indirect way. The legal opacity of the resolution is also extremely telling of the politics of the Council and the concessions that are necessary for the rapid adoption of some resolutions. Resolution 2249 is a microcosm of the manner in which Council decision-making unfolds.
      The fact that it was not adopted under Chapter VII is, of course, notable and suggests two key points: firstly, there was a clear compromise on the wording and mandate granted to states in order for both Russia and China to permit its passing. Both nations have jointly blocked the adoption of previous Chapter VII resolutions on Syria on four occasions since 2011 by means of their veto powers and, despite the high emotional toll of recent events, it is likely that a blanket mandate for military action in Syria would not have passed...  Click here to read the full article.  "A Legal Analysis of UN Security Council Resolution 2249" was written by Dr Sherif Elgebeily, Centre for Comparative and Public Law, and published on the Current Affairs webpage of the Cambridge Journal of International and Comparative Law.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Report on the Hong Kong-Singapore Law Schools Conference 2016

Dean Hor welcoming participants.
The HKU-NUS-SMU Conference was held on 22 and 23 February 2016 at the Faculty of Law, University of Hong Kong. Participants from the Law Faculties of the National University of Singapore and the Singapore Management University joined Faculty members from the University of Hong Kong for two days of fruitful presentations and discussions. Colleagues from the Law Faculties of the Chinese University of Hong Kong and City University of Hong Kong were also invited to participate. 
     Panels covered a wide range of topics, including International Law, Economic Regulation, Intellectual Property, Private Law, Corporate Law, Public Law, Dispute Resolution, Chinese Law, Criminal Law and Evidence.
     This conference enabled the Faculty members from all participating universities to meet and explore the possibility of future collaborations, as well as to engage in interesting and enjoyable legal discussions.  Report written by conference organizer Ji Lian Yap.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Bui Ngoc Son (PhD 2013) on Confucian Constitutionalism in East Asia (New Book)

Confucian Constitutionalism in East Asia
Bui Ngoc Son (PhD 2013)
2016, Routledge, 226 pp.
About the Book: Western liberal constitutionalism has expanded recently, with, in East Asia, the constitutional systems of Japan, South Korea and Taiwan based on Western principles, and with even the socialist polities of China and Vietnam having some regard to such principles. Despite the alleged universal applicability of Western constitutionalism, however, the success of any constitutional system depends in part on the cultural values, customs and traditions of the country into which the constitutional system is planted. This book explains how the values, customs and traditions of East Asian countries are Confucian, and discusses how this is relevant to constitutional practice in the region. The book outlines how constitutionalism has developed in East Asia over a long period, considers different scholarly work on the ease or difficulty of integrating Western constitutionalism into countries with a Confucian outlook, and examines the prospects for such integration going forward. Throughout, the book covers detailed aspects of Confucianism and the workings of constitutions in practice.  Dr Bui completed his PhD under the supervision of Professor Albert Chen in 2013.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Anita Wu (JD 2013) Defending Tenancy Rights in Chinatown New York

Anita Wu (JD 2013) is a graduate of HKU's 3-year joint JD and LLM programme with the University of Pennsylvania. In 2011-12, she was a student in our clinical legal education programme. After completing her New York bar exam, she interned at Manhattan Legal Services and is now a staff attorney.  In this interview with Robert Precht, founder and president of Justice Labs, Anita describes her work representing low-income tenants.  She is currently representing a 64-year-old disabled Chinese man who requires the use of his building's elevator to reach his seventh floor apartment.  However, the landlord has contracted to replace the elevator requiring a five-month shutdown.  Anita has assisted the client to bring a case in federal court to try to postpone the replacement work as reasonable accommodation for the many elderly and disabled residents in the building.  On 23 February 2016, Ming Pao (NY) Daily reported that the client had obtained a preliminary injunction to stop the cessation of the elevator service and settlement discussions are underway.  

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Spectacular Law - CALL FOR PAPERS (HKU, 8-10 December 2016)

Law, Literature and the Humanities Association of Australasia Conference 2016

The Faculty of Law, The University of Hong Kong, 8-10 December 2016
Preceded by a half-day Graduate Research Student Workshop


The LLH Association of Australasia invites researchers working at the intersection of law and the humanities to Hong Kong in 2016 to explore the complex relations between law, theory, culture and visuality. This conference invites participants to re-affirm the enduring capacity of interdisciplinary, creative and critical legal scholarship to allow us to see the law otherwise.
     The theme of ‘spectacular law’ invites reflection on the performance and dramaturgy of political and legal power, the affective lures of sovereignty and the technologies that reveal – and conceal – legality, dissent, (dis)obedience, and different modalities of regulation. This conference will examine the various ways in which we can see, and be seen by, law, politics and power. The location of this year’s conference prompts its theme. Hong Kong is a visually striking city: fading tower blocks, gleaming edifices, remnants of a colonial past, and canopies of neon suspended over street corners, all enframed by lushly forested hills and the increasingly contested waters of the South China Sea. The powerful visual affect, as much a result of the city’s geography as it is of its legal and political orderings, inspires an exploration of the spectacle.
     We invite either individual paper proposals or pre-arranged panels of 3-4 papers. Participants may present in the form of a traditional academic paper, panel discussion, or innovative presentational forms that engage video, performance or other media. We will consider proposals in any area of law, literature and the humanities. However in addressing the conference theme papers might wish to reflect on the following questions:

  • What are the techniques through which law’s operative power is made (in)visible today? 
  • How do the various methodologies of ‘law and humanities’ allow us to approach questions of speech, surveillance, censorship, and freedom? 
  • How are the spatial, aural, textual and haptic dimensions of law and power refracted through – or obscured by – a focus on the law’s visuality, its spectacles and spectaculars? 
  • In what ways might we think about the performance of law in a plurality of settings: on the stage, the screen, in literature or in the courtroom?
  • Does the development of new technologies necessitate the re-examination of how justice is seen to be done?

Laurent de Sutter, Professor of Legal Theory at Vrije Universiteit Brussels
Christine Black, Senior Research Fellow at the Northern Institute, Charles Darwin University


Paper and panel proposals should be submitted through the conference webpage.
Accepted participants will be notified of the registration and payment details in June.

Conference Fees
Standard rate 1,300 HKD
Student rate 600 HKD
Conference dinner 500 HKD

Graduate bursaries
10 bursaries of 2,000 HKD will be available to support graduate students from outside Hong Kong attending the Graduate Workshop and presenting a paper at the conference. For full details and how to apply, see the Conference website.

Dates & Times
The Graduate Workshop will be held on the morning of the 8 December.
The Conference will begin in the afternoon of 8 December and end at 5pm on the 10 December. The Conference Dinner will be on the evening of 9 December.

Information about registration, accommodation, plenaries and panels, updates and all other matters will be available through the Conference website.

Conference website
Email address

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Michael Jackson on the UK Supreme Court's Decision to Overrule Criminal Joint Enterprise Authorities - Will Hong Kong Follow?

The Court of Final Appeal in Hong Kong is being urged to consider a landmark joint ruling by the United Kingdom’s Supreme Court and the Privy Council which paves the way for murderers to launch appeals against their conviction.
     The UK’s highest court ruled last week that the law concerning joint enterprise – which has allowed people to be convicted of murder even if they neither inflicted the fatal blow nor intended serious harm to occur – had taken a “wrong turn” following a high-profile Hong Kong murder case in the 1980s.
     It is a judgement with “substantial ramifications”, according to Boase Cohen & Collins Consultant Michael Jackson, a leading academic and authority on criminal law in Hong Kong.
     “For the past 30 years, defendants in Hong Kong and England have been convicted of murder and other serious crimes based on little more than proof of their association with others in criminal activities foreseen to carry a risk of serious violence,” said Mr Jackson.
     “No more, it seems. If this judgement is followed in Hong Kong, prosecutors will have to reformulate any current or pending cases based on joint enterprise liability, and consideration will have to be given to the availability of appeal rights by those currently incarcerated on the basis of their participation in a joint enterprise.
     “Hopefully, the Court of Final Appeal will seize the first opportunity to consider this judgement and clarify both the law in Hong Kong and the possibility of appeal.”
     The Supreme Court issued its judgement after considering the case of Ameen Jogee, who was convicted of murder after his friend Mohammed Hirsi stabbed a man to death in Leicester in June 2011.
     The court overturned his murder conviction after concluding it had been secured on the grounds that he merely had foresight of the potential that the victim, Paul Fyfe, could suffer life-threatening injuries.
     Joint enterprise liability – or parasitic accessory liability, as it has also come to be known – originated in a decision of the Privy Council on appeal from Hong Kong in Chan Wing-siu v. The Queen [1985] AC 168.
     The case involved three gang members armed with knives who burst into the home of a prostitute and her husband, intending to collect a debt. The husband was stabbed to death by at least one of the gang. All three were convicted of murder.
     “The Privy Council’s interpretation of the principle of joint enterprise in 1985 was later adopted in England and elsewhere in the Commonwealth. Most significantly, it enabled conviction of a party to an enterprise resulting in murder based merely on his foresight that murder might occur and his continued participation, rather than his ‘intention’, as must be proved against the actual murderer,” explained Mr Jackson.
     “This was a ‘wrong turning’ in the law of accessory liability, according to the Lords in their joint judgement in Jogee. They declared that the ‘error’ needed to be ‘corrected’ and, having been judicially created, could properly be judicially abolished.”
     New Zealand-born Mr Jackson, a Consultant with Boase Cohen & Collins since 1985, is Associate Professor with the Faculty of Law at the University of Hong Kong. He has authored a number of legal publications including the acclaimed textbook Criminal Law in Hong Kong, which was published in 2003.
     He concluded: “In theory, the Hong Kong courts could decline to follow the Supreme Court’s ruling, since it is not legally binding here. But, given the express declaration that Chan Wing-siu, the foundation of joint enterprise liability in Hong Kong, involved a ‘wrong turning’, this would be a most surprising step.”  This article is from the website of Boase Cohen & Collins and was reported on the front page of the South China Morning Post on 24 February 2016.

Monday, February 22, 2016

CL Lim on Customary International Law's Vitality in Protecting International Trade

"The Strange Vitality of Custom in the International Protection of Contracts, Property, and Commerce"
CL Lim
in Curtis A Bradley (ed), Custom's Future: International Law in a Changing World (Cambridge University Press 2016) 205-229
Abstract: Because trade and investment laws often result from treaties, the role of custom has become concealed under a patchwork of treaty rules. Out of sight, custom is out of mind, its utility scorned. By shifting attention from law-making to international economic law’s "adjudicative aspects", this chapter intends to, first, defend custom's "weak intertwination" with treaty law, particularly in the interpretation of investment treaty clauses which protect property and contractual rights. Secondly, this chapter responds to custom's critics. It argues that (i) customary rules are as susceptible as treaties to detailed customization in their design, (ii) customary law-making can also be formed through complex trade-offs (not, simply, through "in-kind" reciprocity), and (iii) custom’s lack of predictability is overstated. This is because the same diplomatic, organizational, and institutionalized methods often used for treaty law-making are strongly intertwined with customary law-making.  Contact the author for a copy.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Report on the HKU Big Data and Privacy Workshop

The Law and Technology Centre (the “Centre”) of The University of Hong Kong’s Faculty of Law had the pleasure to host the Workshop: Big Data and Privacy on 30 November 2015. The Workshop was part of a collaborative research project on Big Data and Privacy by Professor Anne SY Cheung of the Centre and Professor Wolfgang Schulz of the University of Hamburg. It was supported by the Germany-Hong Kong (“DAAD”) Research Grant.
     Revolutionary means of generating and processing voluminous and diverse data sets across different sectors are constantly being developed, with big data increasingly being employed in business, governance and social life. While big data has the potential to add immense social and economic value and serve the common good, it also impacts on the privacy of individuals and challenges the effectiveness of traditional legal frameworks for data protection.
     As solutions to many of these data privacy issues remain obscure, speakers from the University of Hamburg, Germany, Academic Sinica, Taiwan, and HKU (not only from the Faculty of Law, but also from the Faculty of Social Science, the Departments of Computer Science and Statistics) gathered to discuss these weighty issues. In addition to having input from academics, the Workshop also had speakers from regulatory body, the IT industry and a private law firm, including the Privacy Commissioner’s Office, Microsoft and Winston & Strawn LLP.
     Speakers reviewed the challenges that Big Data has posed for business, medical and healthcare providers and social movements. Furthermore, it also explored privacy implications and data protection measures in data-driven businesses, including profiling, monitoring and predictive analysis. Rather than providing ready solutions, the workshop aimed to shed light on our understanding of the desirable use of Big Data. Legal developments in Hong Kong, Taiwan, mainland China, Germany and the European Union were discussed... Click here to read the rest of the report published in Hong Kong Lawyer (Jan 2016).  The photos from the workshop can be accessed here.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Rick Glofcheski on Rethinking Teaching, Learning and Assessment in the 21st Century

"Rethinking Teaching, Learning and Assessment in the Twenty-First Century Law Curriculum"
Rick Glofcheski
in Christopher Gane and Robin Hui Huang (eds), Legal Education in the Global Context: Opportunities and Challenges (Ashgate 2015) 
Introduction: For much of the past decade, legal education as provided by university law schools has been under review and criticism in many places in the common law world. A major review has just been completed in the UK. Only a few years ago two large-scaled studies in the US were conducted. Another, undertaken by the American Bar Association, is currently in production. And we should not overlook the 2001 Redmond-Roper Report, which reviewed and made recommendations on all stages of legal education here in Hong Kong. These studies are just a representative sample. Criticizing legal education is nothing new. 
     There are multiple stakeholders in legal education, and the factors that might trigger the need or perceived need for a legal education review are many, including political. They are usually driven, at least in part if not in the main, by a perception that there is a gap between academic achievement and professional requirements, that legal education is not fit for purpose. It is not uncommon to hear complaints from the profession that graduates have not been properly prepared for lawyering work. One observation that can be made is that although most of these reviews are concerned to some degree with issues of fitness for purpose, rarely do they examine the tools for learning that predominate in the law school curriculum. The focus is on larger, institutional issues.  Contact the author for a copy.

Johannes Chan on Legal Education in Hong Kong

"Legal Education in the Global Context: The Case of Hong Kong"
in Christopher Gane and Robin Hui Huang (eds), Legal Education in the Global Context: Opportunities and Challenges (Ashgate 2015) 
Overview: The Impact of Globalization
      Partly as a result of globalization, a few recent trends in legal education are noticeable. Firstly, the pace of changes in the modern era is unprecedented. On the one hand, knowledge has a much shorter life-span these days and factual knowledge becomes outdated much more quickly than before. On the other hand, many new problems have emerged that require innovative solutions within a very short period of time. The advance of modern technology and means of communication, which present a new virtual world with novel and complex legal relationships is a prime example. Secondly, advances in technology mean that a huge amount of information is available on any topic. It also greatly shortens the distance between different legal systems and legal cultures. Very few legal systems can be insulated from external influences these days, and there is an increasing need for knowledge and familiarity of legal systems other than that of our own. Thirdly, legal issues have become increasingly multi-disciplinary in nature. Climate change, town planning, trade relations and so on are just some obvious examples. Fourthly, it is rare these days that graduates will stay in one career throughout their life. Instead, we have seen university graduates, and not just law graduates, have become or have to become increasingly versatile. It is also an increasingly popular phenomenon that law graduates, by their own choice, decide not to stay in, or even enter into legal field. 
     As legal education has become increasingly globalized and competitive, more and more legal education institutions are adopting an outward looking attitude. This has enhanced academic collaboration and exchange, to the benefit of both students and teachers. The other side of the coin is that tertiary institutions are increasingly concerned about international ranking. Education is to be quantified so that they can be compared and ranked. Factors that are more difficult to measure such as quality of teaching or impact on students tend to be ignored, or worse, twisted for the sake of quantification... Contact the author for a copy.

James Fry on Internet Surveillance in the US and China (UPenn J Int'l L)

James D. Fry
University of Pennsylvania Journal of International Law
Vol. 37, Issue 2, 2015, pp 419-501
Introduction (excerpt): The People’s Republic of China (“PRC”) has received considerable criticism from the United States for the human rights issues raised by its Internet surveillance program. For example, according to a 2012 Congressional Research Service (“CRS”) Report for Congress, Freedom House ranked the People’s Republic of China as “one of the five countries with the lowest levels of Internet and ‘new media’ freedom.” Some Western commentators echo this same type of criticism of the PRC’s Internet surveillance program. At first glance, such criticism seems overwhelmingly justified, if not for any other reason that approximately seventy PRC citizens have been incarcerated for writing about politically sensitive topics online in the past few years, which has raised serious concerns over the freedom of speech there. It is difficult to assess the validity of this criticism of the PRC’s Internet surveillance laws and policies without clearly designating a referent. Using U.S. Internet surveillance laws and policies as the referent, PRC Internet surveillance laws and policies arguably can be seen as more in line with international human rights norms, especially with regard to predictability, although that might be changing on account of the recent Snowden revelations. While the Snowden revelations undoubtedly have had catastrophic effects on national security, they potentially have helped improve the human rights situation in the United States by disabusing U.S. citizens of the notion that the U.S. Constitution actually protects them from unreasonable Internet searches and seizures by the government.
     In presenting and defending this argument, this article is divided into five parts, including this brief introduction and an equally brief conclusion in Parts 1 and 5, respectively. Part 2 sets out the obligations under international law concerning Internet surveillance, which is helpful in assessing the U.S. and PRC approaches to Internet surveillance. Part 3 explores the U.S. laws governing Internet surveillance — especially the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (“FISA”) and the USA Patriot Act. Part 4 analyzes the PRC laws governing Internet surveillance. While there are numerous articles that analyze the PRC approach to Internet surveillance, it would appear that none of them provide the actual language of the PRC laws that directly relate to Internet surveillance, let alone analyze the actual PRC laws, as this article does. Moreover, this article appears to be the first to mention the predictability issues associated with Internet surveillance laws. These two features of this article in and of themselves make this a valuable contribution to the literature, with the other features — including the comparative elements of this analysis — only adding to this article’s overwhelming value. Again, this article’s thesis is that the PRC’s Internet surveillance laws, while not ideal, are better than the U.S. laws with regard to predictability inasmuch as there is no reasonable expectation of privacy in the PRC. Admittedly, the United States might be catching up in the sense that U.S. citizens might not have a reasonable expectation of privacy anymore after the Snowden revelations, notwithstanding the Fourth Amendment. To be clear, this certainly is not something to be proud of in either jurisdiction... Click here to download the full article.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Douglas Arner Interviewed on HSBC's London HQ Decision (Dow Jones)

Julie Steinberg
Dow Jones Business News
15 February 2016
HSBC Holdings PLC's decision to keep its headquarters in the U.K. rather than move to Hong Kong is prompting soul-searching in this former British colony about its perception on the world stage.
     The decision comes as Hong Kong's growing ties to the volatile mainland markets are sparking concern among investors, who are fearful of outsize interference from Chinese authorities. Bankers in the city are also growing more concerned about their personal liberties after several booksellers disappeared and reappeared in mainland China.
     Other observers say HSBC's headquarters decision has no bearing on Hong Kong's appeal as a financial hub.
     "I don't really see this as a comment" on Hong Kong's position as an international financial center, "nor on political stability," said Douglas Arner, a professor at the University of Hong Kong specializing in economic and financial law and regulation.
     "Each case is very specific and [Hong Kong] continues to be highly attractive as a location for regional and international headquarters and operations for international financial institutions of all forms," said Mr. Arner, who is also a member of the city's Financial Services Development Council, which advises the government on expanding the financial services industry... Click here to read the full article.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Jayantha Jayasuriya (MPhil 1999) Appointed Attorney General of Sri Lanka

Congratulations to our alumnus the Honourable Mr Jayantha Jayasuriya, President's Counsel, who was appointed Attorney General of Sri Lanka on 10 February 2016.  Mr Jayasuriya completed his Master of Philosophy under the supervision of Professor Johannes Chan in the mid to late 1990s.  His dissertation was on the topic of the right to a fair hearing under Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.  After graduating from HKU, Mr Jayasuriya continued his stellar career in the Sri Lankan Attorney General (AG)'s Department and swiftly rose through the ranks.  For many years, he served as the head of the Criminal Division of the AG's Department.  In February 2015, he was appointed a judge of the Fiji Court of Appeal.  

Saturday, February 13, 2016

HKU Launches New LLM and MCL Website

Our Faculty has launched a new LLM and MCL website.  HKU has a wide offering in taught postgraduate law programmes.  Seven LLM programmes offered in (i) arbitration and dispute resolution; (ii) Chinese law; (iii) corporate and financial law; (iv) human rights; (v) information technology and intellectual property law; (vi) compliance and regulation (NEW for 2016); and (vii) general stream.  The one-year Master of Common Law was established in 1997.  There are also joint programmes with Peking University and the University of Zurich.  The application deadline for most of these programmes is the end of February. Click here to access the website.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Michael Davis Interviewed on the Lunar New Year Street Violence in Hong Kong (FT)

"Scores injured as Hong Kong police clash with protesters"
Ben Bland
Financial Times
9 February 2016
Hong Kong police and several hundred protesters fought running battles in a popular commercial district early on Tuesday morning in the worst street violence the Asian financial centre has seen since the Occupy movement brought parts of the city to a standstill in 2014.
     Police fired warning shots and used baton charges and pepper spray to subdue what the government called “mobs” after officials faced demonstrations when they tried to remove illegal hawkers.
     CY Leung, Hong Kong’s chief executive, condemned what he called a riot, saying the protesters were “seriously jeopardising the safety of police officers and other people at the site”. He said the police would “apprehend the mobs and bring them to justice”.
     When asked by a reporter whether the violence was the result of dissatisfaction with his government, Mr Leung said “you have to ask those people who appeared to be organisers behind this riot” and insisted he would simply “enforce the laws of Hong Kong”.
     But Michael Davis, a professor of law at the University of Hong Kong, urged the government to look at the deeper issues.
     He said the fact that the protesters had rallied round the cause of the street hawkers underlined broader concerns with growing social inequality in the city and a sense that the government was becoming more heavy-handed.
     “You have to go back to the government and ask why has this radicalisation occurred?” he said. “Support for more extreme tactics may be in the minority but the concerns they are raising about democratic reforms and livelihood issues are fairly widespread and the government ignores this at its peril.”... Click here for the full article.

Hualing Fu Interviewed on Punishment for Those Responsible for Chinese Wrongful Convictions (INYT)

Javier C Hernandez
International New York Times
3 February 2016
For two decades, Shang Aiyun waited for the day when the people responsible for convicting and executing her teenage son for a murder he did not commit would be held to account.
     But when the moment of reckoning came this week, Ms. Shang was outraged. The authorities in Inner Mongolia announced on Sunday that only one person would face a criminal investigation in the wrongful conviction of Ms. Shang’s son, Huugjilt, while 26 others would receive minor demerits.
     “These people don’t even have the courage to admit their mistakes and recognize their wrongdoing,” Ms. Shang said in an interview with Global Times, a state newspaper. “How can they handle legal cases impartially in the future?”
     Under President Xi Jinping, the Communist Party has made overturning cases of gross injustice a centerpiece of its efforts to overhaul the legal system, long troubled by corruption and abuse. But even as the party has moved to create a more equitable judicial system, it has resisted harsh punishments for officials involved in wrongful convictions, wary of creating instability...
     Fu Hualing, a professor of law at the University of Hong Kong, said it was possible that more severe punishments would be announced later, as the investigation progressed.
     “The problem is the institutional interests of the judges, the police officers and the prosecutors,” he said. “The question is whether the central authority has enough persuasion to really force the institution to be accountable.”... Click here to read the full article.

CL Lim Interviewed on the US-ASEAN Summit (VOA)

"ASEAN-US Summit Viewed as More Symbolic Than Substantive"
Steve Herman
Voice of America
10 February 2016
With a backdrop of Beijing's growing assertiveness in the disputed South China Sea, President Barack Obama is set next week to host the leaders of the 10 ASEAN members at an estate near Palm Springs, California.
     Analysts caution that expectations about the outcome need to be managed. “This being the last year of President Obama in office, I'm not particular strong on the idea that a great deal of substance can be done,” said Simon Tay, chairman of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs.
     The Philippines and Vietnam are among those involved in maritime territorial disputes with China, and increasingly looking to Washington for security assurances. That puts them apart from some of the other ASEAN states, which resist amplifying the rhetoric toward Beijing.
     That also could make it difficult for any substantive or groundbreaking proclamation emerging from the meeting in California.
      “I don't think the United States is setting out to wreck anything,“ said Hong Kong University international law professor Chin Leng Lim. “But of course the United State has concerns about the South China Sea, about freedom of navigation... and these issues will be put up front at the summit.”... Click here to read the full article.  Professor Lim's books include International Economic Law after the Global Crisis (CUP 2015) and The Trans-Pacific Partnership (CUP 2012).

Friday, February 5, 2016

Kung Hei Fat Choy 2016

HKU Legal Scholarship Blog wishes everyone a Happy Chinese New Year.  We mark this year's Year of the Monkey with Professor Richard Cullen's most delightful annual cartoon.
"Siu Siu Wang Kong" by Richard Cullen

Benny Tai on the Non-Establishment Camp Winning Half the Seats in the September Election

"Can opposition groups reach the halfway mark in LegCo?"
SC Yeung
HK Economic Journal
3 February 2016
The landslide opposition victory in Taiwan elections last month has fueled hope among Hong Kong democrats that they can bag at least half of the seats in the city’s legislature in polls later this year.
     If all the opposition groups work closely, it is possible that the democratic camp can cross the halfway mark in the 70-member Legislative Council and be in a stronger position to challenge the government on various issues, they reckon.  Well, it is a good thing to have mighty ambitions but how realistic is that dream actually?
     According to Benny Tai, the Hong Kong University law professor who co-founded the 2014 Occupy Central movement, pan-democrats can give the 35-seat mark a try if all non-establishment groups work closely to form an opposition alliance and conduct a coordinated campaign.
     Winning 35 seats may be difficult but is not impossible, Tai says, following an analysis of previous election data in the city and the Taiwan polls last month... Click here to read the full article. See other reports in the SCMP and RTHK (radio interview).

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Eric Maskin to Deliver Inaugural Corporate Law and Governance Lecture

AIIFL-Companies Registry Corporate Law and Governance Distinguished Lecture Series

Mechanisms for Corporate
Decision Making

Inaugural Lecture by

Nobel Laureate Professor Eric Maskin
Adams University Professor, Harvard University

Monday, 22 February 2016
6:30 - 7:30 pm
Large Moot Court, 2/F Cheng Yu Tung Tower
Centennial Campus, The University of Hong Kong

Most corporations make decisions according to “weighted majority rule” -- shareholders’ votes are weighted by the proportion of shares they hold, and the majority gets its way.  One problem with this mechanism is that it cannot incorporate intensity of preference.  In this lecture, Professor Maskin explores alternatives to weighted majority rule.
      Professor Eric Maskin is Adams University Professor at Harvard and a member of the AIIFL Academic Advisory Board.  He received the 2007 Nobel Prize in Economics (with L. Hurwicz and R. Myerson) for laying the foundations of mechanism design theory.  He also has made contributions to game theory, contract theory, social choice theory, political economy, and other areas of economics.  He received his A.B. and PhD from Harvard and was a postdoctoral fellow at Jesus College, Cambridge University.  He was a faculty member at MIT from 1977-1984, Harvard from 1985-2000, and the Institute for Advanced Study from 2000-2011.  He rejoined the Harvard faculty in 2012.

Online Registration here or via to reserve a place.
Enquiry: Flora Leung at

Asian Institute of International Financial Law (AIIFL)
Faculty of Law, The University of Hong Kong

CCPL Launches "Hong Kong's Hidden Stories", a collective narrative of ethnic minorities

Hong Kong’s Hidden Stories is a new Centre for Comparative and Public Law project dedicated to building a collective narrative of Hong Kong's ethnic minorities. Through telling their own stories, they wish to contribute to the development of a positive narrative on Hong Kong’s ethnic minorities. As fellow Hong Kongers, we hope this partnership can serve as an example of our future as a united community of Hong Kongers, that binds us into a common thread of belonging to our home, regardless of race, ethnicity, skin colour and language.
     Over the course of the next two and a half months, we will be uploading one video each week on our dedicated YouTube channel, which can be found here. These narratives of Hong Kong's ethnic minorities share the issues facing them and culminate in a celebration of the project in late March to commemorate the International Day for the Elimination of All forms of Racial Discrimination.
     Please share these videos widely, subscribe to our Facebook and YouTube pages, and ‘Like’ our videos to help generate awareness about these crucial issues and enlist those who share a vision for a more inclusive and just Hong Kong in a conversation about Hong Kong identities, the experiences of different ethnic groups across a range of areas of life, their tragedies, their heroism and their belonging to Hong Kong. 
     Puja Kapai would like to thank the US Consulate General of Hong Kong for their generous support for this project. She would also like to thank the student research assistants for this project: Yan Chan (Student, St. Paul's Co-Educational College); Eugean Lo (BSocSc & LLB (Govt & Laws) 2); Cannis Ng (BSocSc & LLB (Govt & Laws) 2); and, Rachel Li (BA & LLB (Literary Studies & Laws) 3).
     Watch, share, like, make your own videos here

Alice Lee Writes on "Wise Assessment" (New HKU Teaching/Learning Platform)

"The word ‘community’ is derived from Old French comuneté, from Latin communitas, communis, things held in common" ~ Oxford Dictionaries (2014)
What does it take to make a community? A common interest, obviously. People sharing a common interest naturally come together and share information and experiences. The recently launched ‘Wise Assessment’ Community of Practice Project at HKU is a notable example. Assessment and feedback are intertwined; assessment without feedback does very little to support student learning. Assessment and feedback is such a genuine and universal concern that the project briefings shall be useful and relevant to every teacher. A wise initiative, the project not only enables colleagues to cross boundaries between disciplines; it also facilitates the long overdue interplay between the Common Core and the disciplinary curricula (Common Core being featured in one of the project briefings). Who are the players in a learning community anyway? To cultivate a truly vibrant learning environment, we should do more than reflecting on our own courses. There should be channels for teachers (both full-time and part-time) to communicate and collaborate with each other and with colleagues who contribute to co-curriculum development, technological support, student surveys and quality enhancement. It would be great if we could include everyone and talk to everyone. Break the ice and break the boundaries. Most important of all, we should include the students, the stakeholders, in our feedback loop. We hear their voice, we discuss issues among ourselves, and we must not forget to inform them of the steps we take to address their concerns. Justice must be seen to be done. Quality enhancement too.  Written by Alice Lee, guest blog for the first issue of "Teaching and Learning Connections" a new e-newsletter published by HKU's Centre for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning (CETL).

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Hualing Fu on Building Judicial Integrity in China (Hastings Int'l & Comp L Rev)

"Building Judicial Integrity in China"
Hualing Fu
Hastings International and Comparative Law Review
Vol. 39, No. 1, Winter 2016, pp 167-181
Abstract: Since the late 1970s, the Chinese judiciary has undergone a continuous reform process of professionalization and institutionalization. Despite the political constraints, there are sufficient opportunities and incentives to continue China's judicial reform so as to enhance judicial capacity and rebuild trust and credibility. It is undeniable that the Chinese judiciary has been improving itself noticeably through enhancing professionalism, institutionalization and autonomy.
     Judicial reform is possible because China’s authoritarian system demands for a degree of the rule of law. First, rule of law legitimizes political powers and generations of party and, without exceptions, state leaders in the reform China have invariably embraced the concept of rule of law at certain stage of terms. Second, the central government may rely on the rule of law and an effective court in particular to rein in local governments. Third, the rule of law may have proved to be the most effective mechanism for dispute resolution in the long run.
     The primary function of the court from this perspective is to offer efficient dispute resolution for the vast majority of individual cases. To be effective for an institution that is politically weak, the judiciary must develop a sufficient degree of credibility that it is autonomous from political and social influences, neutral to the parties before it, and fair in applying rules. China is likely to develop a judiciary that is politically submissive, but professionally capable in offering effective and fair legal solution to disputes.  Click here to download article.

Monday, February 1, 2016

The Two Books from Obligations VII (Hart Publishing)

The Common Law of Obligations: Divergence and Unity
Andrew Robertson and Michael Tilbury (eds)
Hart Publishing
January 2016, 376 pp.
Description: The development of the law of obligations across the common law world has been, and continues to be, a story of unity and divergence. Its common origins continue to exert a powerful stabilising influence, carried forward by a methodology that places heavy weight on the historical foundations of legal principles. Divergence is, however, produced by numerous factors, including national and international human rights instruments, local statutory regimes, civil law influences, regional harmonisation, local circumstances and values and different political and legal cultures. The essays in this collection explore the forces that produce divergence, the countervailing forces that generate cohesion and consistency in the common law of obligations, and the influence that the major common law jurisdictions continue to exert over one another in this area of law. 
     The chapters in this book were originally presented at the Seventh Biennial Conference on the Law of Obligations held in Hong Kong in July 2014. A second collection, entitled Divergences in Private Law, will focus on particular departures from the common law mainstream, the causes and effects of those deviations, and the extent to which they undermine the idea of the common law as a single, transnational body of law.

Andrew Robertson and Michael Tilbury (eds)
Hart Publishing
January 2016, 392 pp.
Description: This book is a study of doctrinal and methodological divergence in the common law of obligations. It explores particular departures from the common law mainstream, the causes and effects of those departures, and the extent to which they undermine the idea of the common law as a single, transnational body of law. Some divergences can be justified on the basis of a need to adapt the common law of contract, torts, equity and restitution to local circumstances, or to bring them into conformity with local values. More commonly, however, doctrinal or methodological divergence simply reflects different approaches to common problems, or different views as to what justice or policy requires in particular circumstances. In some instances divergent methodologies lead to substantially the same results, while in others particular causes of action, defences, immunities or remedies recognised in one jurisdiction but not another undoubtedly produce different outcomes. Such cases raise interesting questions as to whether ultimate appellate courts should be slow to abandon principles that remain well accepted throughout the common law world, or cautious about taking a uniquely divergent path. 
     The chapters in this book were originally presented at the Seventh Biennial Conference on the Law of Obligations held in Hong Kong in July 2014.