Eric C Ip
Sweet & Maxwell
2016, 458 pp
“Professor Ip’s impressive work should help to enthuse those seeking to practice law in Hong Kong, or already doing so, with that devotion to the rule of law that will lead them, in due course, to agree to play their part as judges in making sure that it continues to flourish in Hong Kong.” Lord Philips of Worth Matravers KG PC
Abstract: The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China presents a most anomalous case study for students and scholars of comparative law: it combines free markets, a vibrant civil society and independent judicial review with oversight by a Party-state internationally known for its antipathy towards constitutional government and the separation of powers. Any observer is bound to be amazed by the unavoidable strains between East Asia’s only common law jurisdiction and the world’s largest officially Socialist civilian law system, and simultaneously intrigued by the stability offered by Hong Kong’s world-famous regulatory infrastructure and fiercely independent judiciary notwithstanding political and economic challenges. It is thus unsurprising to note that the legal system of Hong Kong is no less “fast-moving” than as was stated in the preface of the first edition, published just two years ago in summer 2014. A decision of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress issued on 31 August 2014, which affirmed the Party state’s de facto control over candidate nominations in any future election conducted by universal suffrage, as well as the historic “Umbrella Movement” that it triggered, sparked off a society-wide debate on what the rule of law — long regarded as Hong Kong’s defining ideology — really meant. The arrests and prosecutions associated with this and other mass movements have led many to question the appropriate limits of police and prosecutorial authority, which were not especially controversial in the memorable past.
Important developments also occurred in other dimensions of the legal system. The Administration of Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Ordinance 2014 permanently abolished “as of right” civil appeals to the Court of Final Appeal on the basis of an arbitrary financial limit, thereby vesting great discretion in that Court to manage its own docket. The Court’s divided decision in T v Commissioner of Police (2014) 17 HKCFAR 593, a statutory interpretation case with constitutional implications, exposed the potential conflict between purposivists and textualists tendencies amongst Hong Kong judges in construing legislation. In January 2015, Hong Kong became a host country for the proceedings of the Permanent Court of Arbitration, an intergovernmental organisation that specialises in alternative dispute resolution between sovereign states, not just private parties. In December of the same year, the Competition Tribunal entered into full operation as a nascent superior court of record, ushering lasting structural changes to the judiciary. Three months later, limited liability partnership was introduced for the first time into Hong Kong as a new model of law firm governance.
Law and Justice in Hong Kong was written for students, practitioners and scholars from law and other fields, as well as general readers who wish to understand the core dimensions of Hong Kong law and how these evolve over time. Special care has been taken to ensure that it squared with the syllabi of most courses and examinations on such subjects as Hong Kong Legal System, Hong Kong Business Law, Legal Methods, and Principles of the Common Law. Its twelve chapters are organised around three themes. The first, comprising Chapters 1–4, is the nature of Hong Kong law: its history, elements, and differences from the other legal systems of the world. The second, compassing Chapters 5–10, is the key personnel of the legal system, and how they administer law and justice. The third, spanning Chapters 11–12, is the interplay between Hong Kong law and the outside world. It is hoped that these chapters, undergirded by extracts from key judicial decisions and by examples drawn from up-to-date current affairs, may relieve teachers and students of the pressures of collecting and synthesising widely scattered materials, so that they can focus their energies on the analysis and debate of important legal issues in a more informed and effective manner.
The second edition benefitted immensely from feedback from this diverse audience on the first edition. It is fully up-to-date and rewritten to reflect latest developments in the law. Each chapter has been expanded to engage with the latest legal developments and cutting edge scholarship to illustrate the most fundamental principles of law that are occasionally difficult to beginners of legal studies and sometimes overlooked by experienced scholars and practitioners. Much effort has been paid to incorporate selected findings and insights from the author’s own recent research on Hong Kong and Chinese law into various parts of this edition, so as to make them more accessible to the general reader. More real world examples have been included to bring doctrines from the abstract to the concrete level. Visual aids, such as charts and tables, have been enhanced and updated to facilitate the consumption of complex information. New to this edition are comprehensive reference lists at the end of each chapter which provide readers with reliable guidance on further reading on topics of interest. Click here for more information about the book.