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【2019法律年度開啟典禮】律政司長鄭若驊致辭全文 (18:12)

律政司長鄭若驊今日出席2019年法律年度開啟典禮,她在致辭時強調,《中國憲法》和《基本法》共同構成香港特區的憲制基礎。

【鄭若驊致辭全文(中文版)】

終審法院首席法官、各位司法機構人員、大律師公會主席、律師會會長、各位嘉賓、各位女士、各位先生:

過去一年,律政司捍衞法治不遺餘力,使我們能思慮周詳,加強並不斷推動我們在工作上應對各種挑戰,包括提供公正獨立的專業服務;促進政府的良好管治及依法決策和行動;以及確保人人享有平等、公平的機會。

《中國憲法》、《基本法》和香港的普通法

香港憲制秩序的一個根本要點有時會被忽略,就是香港憲制是建基於《中華人民共和國憲法》(《中國憲法》)和《香港特別行政區基本法》(《基本法》)。正如終審法院在剛果民主共和國訴FG Hemisphere Associates LLC(第1號)一案中明言:「香港特區由全國人民代表大會(人大)根據《中國憲法》第三十一條設立。人大藉着於一九九○年四月四日公布的《基本法》設立香港特區……」

在若干重要判詞中(包括終審法院的判詞),亦有提及《中國憲法》。在其中一個案例,非常任法官梅師賢爵士提醒我們,《基本法》「是全國人民代表大會行使《中國憲法》向其賦予的立法權力制定的成文法則,因此是中國的全國性法律。」在另一案例中,非常任法官顧安國勳爵在處理是否承認台灣法院命令的問題時,亦曾提述《中國憲法》的序言。

《中國憲法》和《基本法》共同構成香港特區的憲制基礎,這一點無論在法律上或事實上均毋庸爭議。一如其他法律問題,要解釋這兩項法律的條文和確定其適用範圍,必須按適用的法律及在相關背景下作出分析,並尤其顧及《基本法》第十一條的規定,以期得出法律上正確的答案。

同樣毋庸爭議的是,在《基本法》第八條保障下,香港保留並持續發展普通法。值得一提的是,這裏所指的普通法是香港的普通法。正如非常任法官苗禮治勳爵在China Field Ltd訴建築物上訴審裁小組(第2號)一案中精闢地指出:

「……本港的法官必須發展香港的普通法,以切合香港的情況。普通法不再是一套劃一的法律,而在各個普通法司法管轄區都可有不同的演化,這是廣為認同的……(終審法院)將繼續尊重和參考英國法院的裁決,但終審法院如認為這些裁決的理據欠妥,或有違原則,或不適合香港的情況,又或終審法院認為香港法律應循不同的路線發展,便會拒絕採納這些裁決。」

梅師賢爵士在其法庭以外的著作寫道:

「不同普通法司法管轄區在法理上的差異主要呈現在法律原則的層面。然而,法律原則之所以各有不同,可能是由於不同司法管轄區對各自的社會實況和環境有不同的司法取向,又或對某些社會價值的司法觀感有所不同……」

緊記這些基本法理概念,就能領略普通法的精妙,即是它能因時制宜,因應當地社會、文化和經濟結構發展出適合的法律體系。

案例法是普通法不可或缺的一環,而普通法另一大可取之處在於判案書均會詳述理由,包括法律分析和事實裁斷。可惜的是,我們看見有些人僅因為裁決的結果不合其心意,便無理地肆意抨擊、甚至惡意中傷某些法官。這些言行不能容忍,如證據充分和情況合適,定當採取法律行動應對。

仔細閱讀和正確理解法院判案書的內容,往往能消除不必要的誤解。為協助公眾加深認識和了解重要的法院裁決,律政司為廣受傳媒或公眾關注的重要案件擬備了判案書摘要,並在判案書頒布後不久即上載部門網站供公眾閱覽。此外,我們亦推出電子版香港法例資料庫,讓市民免費查閱香港所有法例。我們希望這些措施能方便公眾查閱法律,加深他們對法律的認識,從而鼓勵他們在充分了解情況下作理性的討論。

設立普惠避免及解決爭議辦公室

香港得以成為亞太區主要國際法律和爭議解決服務中心,有賴法治和普通法制度共同打下穩固根基。有報道指,「香港相信可為大部分『一帶一路』沿線覆蓋的發展中國家提供成熟而獨立的法律制度和中立地點,為來自區內複雜政治和法律文化環境的各方解決爭議。」報道亦指,律政司近期「積極主動向外推廣香港作為亞洲相關案件的爭議解決樞紐」,並推出相應措施。儘管如此,我們不應對現有的競爭優勢感到自滿。

事實上,我們一直沒有忽視來自區內外各司法管轄區的激烈競爭。香港的法律業界和律政司應更加積極主動,協力加強本地和國際法律界的聯繫,以促進香港輸出法律服務,提升香港作為主要法律和爭議解決中心的地位,並着力宣揚香港的法治優勢。

為了更有效應對挑戰,把握「一帶一路」以及粵港澳大灣區建設規劃所帶來的額外機遇,律政司已成立直接隸屬律政司司長的普惠避免及解決爭議辦公室。

辦公室成立後,將有助加強統籌和實施律政司在避免及解決爭議範疇中一直推行的多項措施。

辦公室將與其他司法管轄區和國際組織磋商和簽訂合作或夥伴安排,亦會在香港舉辦多項重要國際盛事和活動,並支持或鼓勵該等盛事和活動在本港舉行,以及在海外舉辦能力建設和推廣活動,以提升香港在促成交易和解決爭議方面的國際形象。

辦公室的目標,是無分界限地為各界人士和各行各業提供平等的機會,利便他們尋求司法公正,從而在區內外推展「聯合國2030年可持續發展目標」中的第16項目標。

第16項目標着眼於創建和平與普惠包容的社會以促進可持續發展;讓所有人都能尋求司法公正;以及在各層面建立有效、負責任和普惠包容的機構。正如國家主席習近平指出,「聯合國2030年可持續發展目標」應納入國家發展戰略,我們應該「促進經濟、社會、環境協調發展,根據自身國情推動普惠發展,積極構建平等均衡的全球發展夥伴關係。」

調解

推廣調解一直是我們的工作重點。在本地方面,西九龍調解中心在去年開幕,為小額錢債審裁處案件及其他合適案件而設的先導調解計劃也在去年實施,標誌着調解的發展進入新里程。在跨境層面,根據《內地與香港關於建立更緊密經貿關係的安排》框架下的《投資協議》建立的投資爭端調解機制在二○一八年十二月開始實施,經雙方同意的調解機構和調解員名單亦已公布。

因應國際趨勢,加上《安排》下的調解機制已經建立,我們聯同世界銀行集團轄下的國際投資爭端解決中心和亞洲國際法律研究院,在二○一八年十月中旬推出亞洲首個投資法及投資爭議調解技巧培訓課程。我們打算進行更多這類培訓,目標是為亞洲區建立投資調解員團隊,並把香港發展為國際投資法及國際投資爭議解決技巧的培訓基地。

律政司正積極籌劃善用香港過去多年在調解方面積累的優勢,藉「一帶一路」及大灣區規劃所帶來的機遇,加強服務本地和國際社會。

仲裁

在仲裁方面,《第三者資助仲裁實務守則》已在二○一八年十二月七日發出。實施《仲裁條例》有關條文的生效日期公告亦於同日刊憲。第三者資助仲裁的新機制將於二月一日起實施。

法律樞紐

上述法制建設方面的進展與新落成的實體設施相輔相成,這些設施為爭議解決及其他法律服務提供最實在的支援。「法律樞紐」所在的前中區政府合署西座及鄰近屬古蹟的前法國外方傳道會大樓翻新工程進度良好,將分別在今年第一季及二○二○年年中竣工。

法律科技

藉科技提供法律服務是另一重要的發展。聯合國大會在二○一六年指出,網上爭議解決「可協助當事人以簡單、快捷、靈活和安全的方式解決爭議,而無需親自出席會議或聆訊」。最近,亞太經濟合作組織響應號召,現正開展項目,設立以中小微企為主要受惠對象的網上爭議解決平台。

行政長官在《2018年施政報告》中公布,政府支持非政府機構籌建網上「一帶一路」仲裁及調解平台,促使香港提供便捷和具成本效益的網上爭議解決服務。政府會為這個饒有意義的項目提供開發成本。我們正與持份者緊密合作,共同籌建網上爭議解決平台,也在亞太經濟合作組織的網上爭議解決項目中擔當牽頭角色。

法律改革委員會電腦網絡罪行研究

新科技為我們帶來種種好處,但隨之而來的挑戰亦不容忽視。法律改革委員會深明科技範疇的發展一日千里,而且可能被不法之徒利用。因此,該委員會最近成立小組委員會研究電腦網絡罪行。

與內地提供相互法律協助

我欣然宣布,期待已久的香港與內地相互認可和執行民商事判決的安排,即將在短期內簽訂。

在法律界大力和專業的協助下,律政司正着力研究就香港與內地相互認可和協助處理破產和公司債務重組事宜訂立法律機制。同時,我們亦積極商討提升香港作為爭議解決服務中心的其他措施和安排,反應非常正面。

法律業界

我自上任以來一直致力與法律界同業建立聯繫,聆聽他們的意見。為此,我與大律師公會和律師會每季定期會晤,建立溝通途徑,彼此坦誠開放地就法律執業者關注的議題交流意見。自最早期的會議後,律政司已着手檢討外判政策,並於去年取得成果,其中重點是為新進法律執業者開拓機會。我們會繼續推行各項措施,推廣本港享負盛名的優質專業法律服務。

結語

去年的工作取得良好進展,全賴律政司同事盡心竭力工作,以及私人法律執業者的積極貢獻。我謹向他們致以最衷心的謝意。我很榮幸能帶領律政司為鞏固法治作出種種努力。香港的法律專業界別實力雄厚、人才濟濟,律政司作為其中一員,實在與有榮焉。與在座各位一樣,我們會堅定不移地以謙恭和專業的態度迎接未來的挑戰,盼望日後與大家攜手推進這項使命。

謝謝各位。

 

【鄭若驊致辭全文(英文版)】

Chief Justice, members of the Judiciary, Chairman of the Bar Association, President of the Law Society, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

In the past year, our commitment to the rule of law has helped inform, augment and re-energise our work in confronting a range of challenges - from providing professional, impartial and independent deliverables, to promoting good governance and legality in governmental decisions and actions, and ensuring equal and fair opportunities for all.

PRC Constitution, Basic Law and common law of Hong Kong

One fundamental aspect of the constitutional order of Hong Kong that is sometimes overlooked is that it is premised on both the Constitution of the People's Republic of China (PRC) and the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). As the Court of Final Appeal stated in Democratic Republic of the Congo v FG Hemisphere Associates LLC (No. 1) : "The HKSAR was established by the National People's Congress (NPC) pursuant to Article 31 of the Chinese Constitution. It did so by promulgating the Basic Law on April 4, 1990 ..."

The PRC Constitution has also been referred to in a number of important judgments, including those of the Court of Final Appeal. In one case, Sir Anthony Mason, non-permanent judge (NPJ), reminded us that the Basic Law "is a national law of the PRC, being an enactment of the National People's Congress made in the exercise of legislative powers conferred upon the NPC by the PRC Constitution". In another case, Lord Cooke of Thorndon NPJ referred to the Preamble of the PRC Constitution when dealing with the question of recognition of Taiwan court orders.

That the PRC Constitution and the Basic Law together form the constitutional basis of the HKSAR cannot be seriously disputed, whether as a matter of law or fact. Like any other legal problem, the interpretation and extent of the application of the provisions of these two laws will be a matter that has to be analysed by applying the proper applicable law, and in context, in particular with Article 11 of the Basic Law in mind, so as to derive a legally correct answer.

Another matter that cannot be disputed is that the common law is maintained and continues to develop in Hong Kong, as guaranteed by Article 8 of the Basic Law. One should appreciate that, here, the common law refers to the common law of Hong Kong. As pithily stated by Lord Millett NPJ in China Field Ltd v Appeal Tribunal (Buildings) (No. 2):

"... our judges must develop the common law of Hong Kong to suit the circumstances of Hong Kong. It is well recognised that the common law is no longer monolithic but may evolve differently in the various common law jurisdictions ... (The Court of Final Appeal) will continue to respect and have regard to decisions of the English courts, but it will decline to adopt them not only when it considers their reasoning to be unsound or contrary to principle or unsuitable for the circumstances of Hong Kong, but also when it considers that the law of Hong Kong should be developed on different lines."

Writing extra-judicially, Sir Anthony Mason put it this way:

"The differences that distinguish the jurisprudence of the various common law jurisdictions are largely doctrinal. The variations in doctrine may be attributed, however, to different judicial responses to variations in the material circumstances and conditions of society in the various jurisdictions or to different judicial perceptions about particular societal values ...."

Bearing in mind these basic jurisprudential notions allows us to appreciate the beauty of the common law - the ability to adapt to evolving circumstances in the development of a legal system that tailors to what is asked of it given the social, cultural and economic fabric of our society.

Another major appeal of the common law, of which case law forms an indispensable part, is that detailed reasons, including the legal analysis and findings of fact, are set out in the judgments. Unfortunately, we have seen totally baseless, arbitrary and even malicious attacks on some of our judges simply because the outcome of particular cases was not to the liking of those making the attacks. Such acts and utterances are not to be tolerated and where evidence and circumstances justify, legal action will be taken.

Careful reading and correct understanding of court judgments would often dispel any unwarranted misunderstanding. With a view to raising public awareness and assisting the public to better understand significant decisions of the courts, the Department of Justice has prepared summaries of judgments of notable cases with substantial media or public interest. They are made available on the department's website shortly after the judgments are handed down. We hope that this initiative, together with the Hong Kong e-Legislation database which provides free access to all legislation of Hong Kong, would enhance accessibility of the law for the general public and foster better understanding of the law so as to encourage healthy and informed discussions.

Establishment of IDAR Office

Our rule of law and common law system have together formed a solid foundation for Hong Kong's status as the leading centre for international legal and dispute resolution services in the Asia-Pacific region. It is reported that "[t]o a majority of developing countries covered by the Belt and Road routes, Hong Kong believes it offers the promise of a mature and independent legal system and a neutral venue to resolve disputes arising between parties from the region's complex political and legal cultures". While it is also reported that the Department of Justice recently "has been more proactive in getting Hong Kong's name out as a dispute resolution hub for Asia-related cases" and launched other initiatives, we should not be complacent about our existing competitive edge.

Indeed we have not overlooked the keen competition posed by other jurisdictions in this region and beyond. No doubt, there is a pressing need for our legal practitioners and the Department of Justice to be more proactive and join hands to strengthen the interface between the local and international legal communities, thereby facilitating the export of our legal services, enhancing Hong Kong's position as a leading legal and dispute resolution centre, and importantly, conveying the strength of our rule of law.

To better cope with the challenges and to harness the additional opportunities offered by the Belt and Road Initiative and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area plan, the Inclusive Dispute Avoidance and Resolution Office (IDAR Office) has been established within the Department of Justice, which will work directly under my steer.

The establishment of the IDAR Office will help better co-ordinate and implement various initiatives that the department has been undertaking in the areas of dispute avoidance and resolution.

The IDAR Office will pursue and conclude co-operation or partnership arrangements with other jurisdictions and international organisations. It will also organise, support or encourage a number of important international events and activities in Hong Kong, as well as raise the international profile of Hong Kong in deal making and dispute resolution through capacity building and promotional activities overseas.

The IDAR Office's objective is to facilitate access to justice and provide equal opportunities for people from all walks of life and for all sectors of the economy without boundary, advancing Goal 16 of the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals in this region and beyond.

Goal 16 emphasises the promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, the provision of access to justice for all and the building of effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. As President Xi Jinping explained, the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals are part of our national development strategies, and we should "promote coordinated advances in the economic, social and environmental fields, pursue inclusive development in keeping with our respective national conditions, and forge equal and balanced global development partnerships".

Mediation

The promotion of mediation has long been an important focus. Domestically, last year saw the milestone of the opening of the West Kowloon Mediation Centre and the implementation of a Pilot Mediation Scheme for Small Claims Tribunal and other suitable cases. At the cross-boundary level, the Mediation Mechanism for investment disputes established in accordance with the Investment Agreement under the framework of the Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) was implemented in December 2018. The lists of mediation institutions and mediators mutually agreed by the two sides have been published.

In light of the international trend and with the CEPA Mediation Mechanism in place, we have, together with the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes of the World Bank Group and Asian Academy of International Law, launched a training course on investment law and investment mediation skills in mid-October 2018, which was the first in Asia. We plan to conduct further rounds of such training with the goals of building up a team of investment mediators in Asia and developing Hong Kong into an international investment law and international investment dispute resolution skills training base.

The department is actively pursuing and formulating how to capitalise on Hong Kong's strengths established over the years in mediation to better serve the local and international communities in light of the opportunities that are available under the Belt and Road Initiative and the Greater Bay Area plan.

Arbitration

Turning to arbitration, the Code of Practice for Third Party Funding of Arbitration was issued on December 7, 2018. On the same day, a commencement notice to bring the relevant provisions of the Arbitration Ordinance into operation was gazetted. The new regime for third party funding of arbitration will come into operation on February 1.

Legal Hub

All these advances in legal infrastructure are complemented by new physical infrastructure which supports dispute resolution and other legal services in a most tangible way. The renovation works for the Legal Hub at the West Wing of the former Central Government Offices and the nearby heritage-listed former French Mission Building are making good progress and due to be completed by the first quarter of this year and mid-2020 respectively.

LawTech

Another important area of development is the use of technology in the provision of legal services. In 2016, the United Nations General Assembly observed that online dispute resolution (ODR) "can assist the parties in resolving the dispute in a simple, fast, flexible, and secure manner, without the need for physical presence at a meeting or hearing". More recently, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) has responded to the call and is currently embarking on a project to establish an ODR platform with micro, small and medium-sized enterprises as major beneficiaries.

The Chief Executive announced in her 2018 Policy Address that the Government supports the development by non-governmental organisations of a Belt and Road e-arbitration and e-mediation platform, so that Hong Kong will be able to provide efficient and cost-effective online dispute resolution services. The Government will provide funding for the cost of development of this meaningful project. We are now working very closely with the stakeholders in the development of the ODR platform and also taking the lead in the ODR project under APEC.

Law Reform Commission's study on cybercrime

While we seek to reap the benefits of new technologies, the challenges posed by them cannot be ignored. The Law Reform Commission is well aware of the rapid developments in this area, as well as the potential for new technologies to be exploited for carrying out criminal activities. Therefore, a sub-committee has recently been formed to study the topic of cybercrime.

Mutual legal assistance with the Mainland

I am pleased to announce that the long-awaited arrangement between Hong Kong and the Mainland on reciprocal recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters will be concluded and signed in the near future.

With the generous and expert assistance from the legal sector, efforts have also been stepped up in the department to pursue the study of establishing a legal mechanism between Hong Kong and Mainland for mutual recognition of and assistance in insolvency and corporate debt restructuring matters. Other measures and arrangements that will enhance Hong Kong's position as a dispute resolution hub are being actively discussed with promising feedback.

Legal profession

Since taking the office, I have been eager to engage and hear from the legal profession. Through quarterly meetings with the Bar Association and the Law Society, we have established a channel of communication for frank and open exchange of issues of concern to legal practitioners. The department's briefing out policy has been under review since our first meetings and some fruitful outcome has been achieved last year, with emphasis on the exploration of opportunities for young practitioners. Measures to facilitate wider use of Hong Kong's high-quality, renowned and professional legal services will continue to be pursued.

Conclusion

None of the progress achieved in the past year would have been possible without the dedication and devotion of my colleagues in the department and the contributions of legal practitioners in private practice. I express my sincerest gratitude to them for their efforts. In these efforts to strengthen the rule of law, the department that I am privileged to lead is honoured to be part of Hong Kong's strong, robust and professional legal fraternity. Like you, we approach the challenges ahead with resolve, humility and professionalism. We are eager to join hands in driving this work into the future.

Thank you very much.

相關字詞﹕法律年度 律政司 鄭若驊 編輯推介

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