Wednesday, March 6, 2024

Simon Young on Hong Kong's Comparative Law (New Book Chapter)

"Hong Kong"
Simon Young
in Elgar Encyclopedia of Comparative Law 
Edward Elgar Publishing, pp.193–199
Published online: December 2023

I. Introduction

Hong Kong became a special administrative region of the People’s Republic of → China on 1 July 1997. Before then, it was a British colony for more than 150 years. The law of England had full force in the colony of Hong Kong except where it was inapplicable due to the local circumstances of Hong Kong or its inhabitants (Wesley-Smith [1994b] 90). In 1966, the position narrowed, in that the → common law and the rules of → equity of England were in force in Hong Kong provided they were suited to local circumstances and only Acts of Parliament specified in a schedule were applicable to Hong Kong (Wesley-Smith [1994b] 91). Thus, a modified form of English law suited to local circumstances applied in Hong Kong. Hong Kong’s Governor, by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Council, made laws for the peace, order and good government of the colony (Wesley-Smith [1994a] 187). But colonial laws repugnant to an Act of Parliament applying to Hong Kong would be absolutely void and inoperative (A Solicitor v The Law Society of Hong Kong [2003]; Wesley-Smith [1994a] 195). The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council was Hong Kong’s final appellate court and its decisions in appeals from Hong Kong were binding on all Hong Kong courts according to the doctrine of precedent (A Solicitor v The Law Society of Hong Kong [2008]). However, judicial decisions of the House of Lords (→ United Kingdom Supreme Court) and the Privy Council in non-Hong Kong appeals were technically not binding though in practice highly persuasive. English legal traditions took root in the colonial era and endured after 1997. For example, barristers still wear gowns and wigs in proceedings in the higher courts (Ip [2019] 313).

In a bilateral agreement signed on 19 December 1984, generally known as the Sino-British Joint Declaration...

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