Cheung to decide judges' fate in misconduct complaints

Local | Maisy Mok 3 Aug 2021

Chief Justice Andrew Cheung Kui-nung has been appointed chairman of an advisory committee on complaints against judicial conduct.

The committee's two-year term begins on August 16 as part of a two-tier mechanism to handle complaints against judges.

The nine-strong committee consists of five senior judges, including Cheung, a lawyer and three members from other sectors, including business and education.

The senior judges are the court of final appeal's Johnson Lam Man-hon and Patrick Chan Siu-oi, chief high court judge Jeremy Poon Shiu-chor, and court of appeal vice-president Susan Kwan Shuk-hing.

The remaining four are Wing Tai Properties chairman Christopher Cheng Wai-chee, senior counsel Patrick Fung Pak-tung, former Ombudsman Connie Lau Yin-hing and Chu Hai College of Higher Education president Lee Chack-fan.

Executive councilor and senior counsel Ronny Tong Ka-wah said the four non-judiciary members do not seem to make one think they are biased toward any political camp or ideology.

Tong said he believed the four would consider each complaint professionally and impartially.

He said having people without a legal background dealing with the complaints was not unheard of in the legal sector, as the Hong Kong Bar Association's discipline standing committee also has members who are not from the legal sector.

The public's general opinions, Tong added, can be heard within the committee through non-legal sector members, making the committee more reflective of down-to-earth sentiments.

Cheung said the committee has a "good and balanced mix of profound expertise and experience in judicial, professional and public services."

The formation of the committee comes after Cheung said in January that a review of the mechanism for handling complaints over judicial conduct will be carried out to enhance transparency and accountability.

Under the enhanced two-tier mechanism, complaint cases that are serious, complex or arouse wide public attention will first be investigated by a panel of judges, with more than one from the high court.

Then, the Advisory Committee will review and advise on these cases before Cheung makes a final decision as the chief justice on each complaint.

"In taking forward the two-tier mechanism, the judiciary adheres to the overriding principle that there should be no undermining of judicial independence guaranteed under the Basic Law," the chief justice said.

Cheung added that dissatisfaction with judicial decisions should only be dealt with in accordance with applicable legal procedures such as appeals or reviews.

As of now, complaints lodged against judges are handled by the chief justice or other court leaders, such as the chief judge of the high court, chief district judge and chief magistrate.

Complaints made and completed before August 16 will not be reconsidered.



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