'Name foreign judges for national security cases' - RTHK
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'Name foreign judges for national security cases'

2020-09-19 HKT 13:33
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  • Simon Young says the Court of Final Appeal has a strong panel of foreign non-permanent judges. File image: Shutterstock
    Simon Young says the Court of Final Appeal has a strong panel of foreign non-permanent judges. File image: Shutterstock
A senior legal scholar has urged the government to act now to identify which foreign judges will be entitled to sit in national security cases, after a leading Australian jurist stood down from the top court, citing concerns about the new law.

Simon Young, the associate dean of the University of Hong Kong's law faculty, made the call after the resignation of Justice James Spigelman from the Court of Final Appeal.

The former chief justice of New South Wales reportedly cited reasons "relating to" the new National Security Law for giving up his post as a non-permanent judge in the top court, but did not elaborate.

Young said the nature or extent of Spigelman's concerns about the new law were not clear. However he said there remained " a lot of mystery" over which judges had been designated to handle cases under the new law, and he urged the government to disclose who was on the list.

Under the legislation, the Chief Executive has the power to set out which judges are entitled to handle national security cases. Young said he saw no national security reason for identifying the judges, as their identities would become clear when cases came before them.

However the academic said there was no reason to believe Spigelman's resignation would interfere with the work of the Court of Final Appeal.

"The foreign judges, they come and go. There's quite a large panel. Chief Justice (Geoffrey) Ma has done a wonderful job in maintaining that panel and attracting, really, some of the best international legal talent to join our court. So it really won't affect the court's capacity," Young told RTHK's Joanne Wong.

"We may, in fact, see some of the existing judges step up in their contribution. We've seen in the past with foreign judges, some of them are more engaged than others, so it may create opportunities for some of the existing judges."

The court now has 13 non-permanent foreign judges from Britain, Australia and Canada.