The High Court on Thursday rejected an attempt to challenge the government's amendment of the law to empower it to invalidate vaccine exemptions.
The legal amendment was made last month, just days after Justice Russel Coleman ruled that the Prevention and Control of Disease Regulation, in its original form, did not give the Health Secretary the power to void over 20,000 Covid vaccine exemption certificates issued by seven doctors who were suspected of giving them out without properly examining the patients.
That case was mounted by local resident, Kwok Cheuk-kin, who’s known as “the king of judicial reviews” for the number of legal challenges he made against the authorities.
Subsequent to the law change, Kwok made a new application for a judicial review, suggesting the legal amendment is unlawful as there's no mechanism for affected patients to appeal their invalidated exemption.
Kwok added that the law should not empower the health chief to void exemptions, as there’s no guarantee that future health secretaries have the medical expertise to make the decision.
This application was also handled by Coleman, who noted in a written judgment on Thursday that doctors who had their certificates invalidated can challenge the decision by way of written representations, and the government has offered clinical assessment for affected patients to determine whether he or she is unsuitable for vaccination.
The judge also said he doesn’t think someone must be a doctor to have the power to invalidate exemption certificates, noting the secretary “can, of course, be properly advised”.
In his ruling, Coleman also said the government’s decision to amend the law instead of appealing against his previous ruling was “an example of the rule of law in action in Hong Kong”.