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Appointment of the Chief Justice of the Court of Final Appeal

The following is issued on behalf of the Judiciary:

     Chief Justice Andrew Li welcomed the acceptance by the Chief Executive of the recommendation of the Judicial Officers Recommendation Commission ("JORC") on the appointment of the Honourable Mr Justice Geoffrey Ma Tao-li ("Mr Justice Ma"), Chief Judge of the High Court, as the Chief Justice of the Court of Final Appeal with effect from September 1.  The Chief Justice noted that the Administration would be seeking the endorsement of the Legislative Council of this recommended appointment.  He stated that pending such endorsement, it would not be appropriate to comment further except to state that he has every confidence that Mr Justice Ma will make an outstanding Chief Justice, that he will uphold the rule of law and protect judicial independence, and that under his leadership, the Judiciary will continue to safeguard the rights and freedoms of the individual.

     The Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal is the final appellate court in Hong Kong.  It consists of the Chief Justice and the permanent judges.  Non-permanent judges may be invited to sit.  The Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal Ordinance (Cap. 484) provides that the Chief Justice shall be the head of the Judiciary and shall be charged with the administration of the Judiciary and such other functions as may from time to time be lawfully conferred on him.  

     Mr Justice Ma is the spouse of Madam Justice Maria Candace Yuen ("Madam Justice Yuen"), Justice of Appeal of the Court of Appeal of the High Court.  In order to avoid any possible conflict of interest and any perception of such conflict, if Mr Justice Ma is appointed as Chief Justice, he will not hear any appeals from cases in which Madam Justice Yuen has sat; and will not deal with any administrative matter concerning Madam Justice Yuen.  

     Mr Justice Ma stated that he is honoured by the Chief Executive's acceptance of JORC's recommendation.  He noted that the Administration is seeking the Legislative Council's endorsement and that it would be inappropriate for him to comment further at this stage.  He said that he is fully conscious of the community's high expectations of the Judiciary and that if appointed he will do his utmost to ensure that the rule of law and judicial independence are maintained and that the rights and freedoms of the individual are safeguarded.

Ends/Thursday, April 8, 2010
Issued at HKT 15:10


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