The ceremonial Opening of the 2023 Legal Year was held at City Hall in Hong Kong. Chief Justice Andrew Cheung highlighted the three main functions of the Judiciary:
1) to uphold the rule of law and administer justice,
2) to protect fundamental rights, and
3) to make laws under the common law system.
He announced two initiatives to ensure the Judiciary remains modern, including live broadcasting and e-litigation. The Hong Kong Bar Association has called for caution in exercising the power granted by Beijing’s recent interpretation of the national security law. The city’s justice minister and a solicitors group defend the interpretation, stating that it did not grant new powers to the chief executive or national security authorities. The courts were also urged not to “usurp” the legal functions of other government organs. Chief Justice Andrew Cheung said the courts must respect and uphold Hong Kong’s constitutional order under China’s Constitution but also not purport to exercise judicial power that they have not been conferred with. The Chairperson of the Hong Kong Bar Association Victor Dawes warned that the exercise of power by the city’s leader or the national security committee would have important implications on the right to a fair trial and the perception of fairness in a trial. The Secretary for Justice Paul Lam said the interpretation was a clarification, not a conferring of new power. The President of The Law Society of Hong Kong Chan Chak-ming said the interpretation was a good example of the authorities’ commitment to implementing “One Country, Two Systems”.
Maria Ślązak, AEA-EAL President spoke during the Presidents’ Roundtable was attended by 80 delegates from 62 lawyers’ associations and international legal organisations from 30 jurisdictions, who gathered to discuss the theme “Navigating international disputes in an era of global upheaval and uncertainty”, jointly organised by The Law Society of Hong Kong and Hong Kong Bar Association.