Hong Kong judges go only by the law in making their rulings, and their decisions are not influenced by politics, a top judge has stressed.
In a speech delivered Monday during the ceremonial Opening of the Legal Year 2015, Geoffrey Ma Tao-li, Chief Justice of the Court of Final Appeal, said the administration of justice by the courts is not, nor can it be, influenced by extraneous factors such as politics or political considerations.
“It is no part of the courts’ function to solve political questions, but only to determine legal questions even though the reason for bringing legal proceedings may be a political one,” Ma said, according to Ming Pao Daily.
The recent Occupy protests have demonstrated the respect that most people have for the rule of law, the judge said, noting that the legal proceedings in the courts that took place during the course of the protests demonstrated an adherence to the rule of law.
The rule of law and all that it represents must be respected by all, regardless of whatever beliefs or motives one may have, Ma said. The principle applies to the government as well the public, he said
“There can be no compromise as far as the rule of law is concerned. It is not something from which there can be any deviation nor can there be any room for bargaining in relation to it.”
At a press conference after the ceremony, Ma reiterated that Hong Kong’s judicial independence is protected under the Basic Law.
Meanwhile, he told the audience that while the hiring of new judges is going smoothly in general, there have been some problems in hiring judges for the Court of First Instance. Discussions on possible changes in service conditions and retirement age for qualified judges are underway to help the system cope with long-term needs, he said.
Among other things, the report also said the Court of Final Appeal will be relocated to the former Legco building this year.
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