Statement by the Honourable Andrew Li Kwok Nang
First Chief Justice of the Court of Final Appeal
1. The decision of the UK Supreme Court to withdraw from the 1997 agreement that two serving Justices of the UK's highest court would serve as overseas Non-Permanent Judges (NPJ) of our Court of Final Appeal (CFA) is regrettable.
2. The valuable contribution of the overseas NPJs to the CFA over the last 25 years must be acknowledged and appreciated.
3. It is hoped that the remaining overseas NPJs from Australia, Canada and the UK would continue to contribute.
4. The participation of overseas NPJs in the CFA has many advantages: ensuring the benefit of comparative perspectives and experience, enjoying the confidence of all concerned and enhancing confidence in the independence of our Judiciary. I had hoped this unique arrangement would continue in the coming years and beyond 2047.
5. But times have moved on and circumstances have changed. In the longer term, we have to be prepared that the level of participation of the overseas NPJs may not be the same as before. However, I am confident that this would not affect the quality of the CFA since there is now considerable depth of talent in our Judiciary and legal profession.
6. A significant part of Lord Reed's announcement is his recognition that "The courts in Hong Kong continue to be internationally respected for their commitment to the rule of law". As Chief Justice Andrew Cheung had stated, our Judiciary's commitment to upholding the rule of law and judicial independence is wholly unaffected.
7. I have every confidence that our dedicated Judges will not waver from that commitment.