21 September 2019
Johannes Chan has built an international reputation as a scholar of public law. Photo: HKEJ
Johannes Chan has built an international reputation as a scholar of public law. Photo: HKEJ

Johannes Chan: A scholar of real repute and integrity

Professor Johannes Chan Man-mun is one of the leading scholars of public law in the common-law world, with particular expertise in the public law of Hong Kong, where he has lived and worked for much of his life.

He is one of a small and admirable group of senior public-law scholars across the common-law world who excel in all aspects of legal academic life.

Thus Chan is both a scholar of real repute and a barrister whose practice gives him real insight into the law in action.

He is a longtime staff member of the law faculty at Hong Kong University, with all the expertise in research and teaching that that entails, who also bore the burden of leadership of the faculty, as dean, for an exceptionally long period, from 2002-2014, with great distinction.

His interests range across the entire field of public law, including constitutional law, administrative law and human rights law, in a way that is challenging but also enables him to take a broad perspective.

While he has deep familiarity with the public law of his home jurisdiction, Hong Kong, Chan is a comparative lawyer of considerable note as well.

It is a credit to Chan that, despite the substantial task of the deanship, he has maintained his leading position as a scholar both in Hong Kong and internationally.

Major recent works include his authoritative volume on the constitutional law of Hong Kong, which is a first port of call for all scholars and practitioners seeking reliable knowledge of the field.

Internationally, he is extremely well-known.

Even within the last few years, he has held prestigious visiting positions at the University of Pennsylvania law school and Cambridge University, where he will deliver a keynote address to the Cambridge Public Law Conference in September next year.

I first met Chan at least 20 years ago.

He struck me then as the epitome of a modern legal academic: hard-working, knowledgeable, intellectually curious, efficient and committed to his students, colleagues and the University of Hong Kong.

The intervening years have merely confirmed that impression.

We have kept in touch and occasionally exchange publications.

I met him in his office when his law school hosted the Asian Constitutional Law Forum, and it was a pleasure to renew our acquaintance in person.

I turn to his work as that of a leading authority on the law of Hong Kong.

I admire his achievements in building such a fine law school over the period of his deanship.

I look forward to our contact continuing into the future: not least in the context of the Cambridge conference, which I also plan to attend.

That conference offers the opportunity to explore the similarities and differences between systems of common-law public law as they have evolved in different parts of the world.

Johannes Chan will bring a distinctive perspective to that debate.

The participants will be richer for it.

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Laureate Professor Emeritus at the University of Melbourne Law School, and President Emeritus of the International Association of Constitutional Law.