Hong Kong News

Nonpartisan, Noncommercial, unconstrained.
Monday, Feb 06, 2023

Bar Association head calls for rethink on ban on foreign counsel national security cases

Bar Association head calls for rethink on ban on foreign counsel national security cases

Victor Dawes, re-elected as Bar Association chairman, says leadership wants to resume once-annual trips to Beijing for talks with officials

A blanket ban on the involvement of overseas lawyers in national security trials in the city would not be “conducive to the administration of justice and rule of law”, the re-elected head of the Hong Kong Bar Association has said.

Victor Dawes on Thursday added the association leadership hoped to make a trip to Beijing this year in the wake of the recent reopening of the border.

Dawes spelled out the association’s stance on a total ban on foreign lawyers taking on national security cases after the commercial law expert was re-elected as chairman of the 1,500-member Bar Association at its annual general meeting.

He emphasised that the association had not seen any concrete proposals on national security court proceedings yet.

“The Bar Council has considered the general direction. We do not believe that there should be a complete ban on overseas counsel for all [national security] cases for either prosecuting or defending,” Dawes said. “Not all cases involve confidential matters or state secrets.”


(Left to right) Derek Chan, a Hong Kong Bar Association vice- chairman, Victor Dawes, the re-elected chairman, and Jose Antonio Maurellet, also a vice-chairman, after the organisation’s annual general meeting and elections.

Dawes appealed for “flexibility” to be preserved.

“We also believe it is more desirable. And insofar as perception is concerned, it will be more acceptable to the public if there is more flexibility,” Dawes said.

Controversy over overseas lawyers’ involvement in sensitive cases erupted after Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu asked for Beijing’s interpretation of the national security law after a failed bid in the Court of Final Appeal to block London-based barrister Timothy Owen from appearing for media tycoon Jimmy Lai Chee-ying’s at his trial on allegations of collusion with foreign forces.

The National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, China’s top legislative body, last month clarified that the courts should ask the chief executive for a certificate to verify whether an offence involved national security or if the evidence featured state secrets when such questions arose.

The Committee for Safeguarding National Security, chaired by Lee, could also step in and make a decision if the courts failed to ask the chief executive for a certificate.

The committee met last week and backed the government’s proposal to amend the Legal Practitioners Ordinance as soon as possible.

Some in the Beijing loyalist camp insist there should be a total ban on overseas lawyers acting as defence counsel in national security cases and also on them appearing for the prosecution.

The annual trip by association senior figures has been on hold since 2017 because of tensions between previous office holders and Beijing, as well as the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dawes said it used to be a tradition among the Bar Association leadership to visit Beijing to meet officials but the arrangement was put on hold in the last few years.

“In the past year, there were plans to arrange a visit to the Greater Bay Area, but eventually it was also postponed because of the epidemic. Now that the border has reopened, if the situation on the mainland permits, we hope to be able to resume the visit arrangement in the coming year,” he said.

The Bar Association has not visited Beijing since prominent human rights lawyer Philip Dykes took the helm in 2018, and later Paul Harris in 2021.

The two were vocal in raising concerns over policies and developments they felt to be detrimental to the city’s rule of law.

Commercial lawyer Jose Antonio Maurellet and Derek Chan Ching-lung, a specialist in criminal law, were re-elected as vice-chairmen of the association at the same meeting.
Newsletter

Related Articles

Hong Kong News
Close
0:00
0:00
Charlie Munger, calls for a ban on cryptocurrencies in the US, following China's lead
Hong Kong airlines taking bold action after the years of pandemic lockdown and travel restrictions, to make Hong Kong great again
EU found a way to use frozen Russian funds
First generation unopened iPhone set to fetch more than $50,000 at auction.
WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT - US Memphis Police murdering innocent Tyre Nichols
Almost 30% of professionals say they've tried ChatGPT at work
Interpol seeks woman who ran elaborate exam cheating scam in Singapore
Chinese search giant Baidu to launch ChatGPT like AI chatbot.
What is ChatGPT?
Bill Gates is ‘very optimistic’ about the future: ‘Better to be born 20 years from now...than any time in the past’
China is opening up for foreign investors.
Tesla reported record profits and record revenues for 2022
Prince Andrew and Virginia Giuffre Photo Is Fake: Ghislaine Maxwell
Moonwalker Buzz Aldrin Gets Married On His 93rd Birthday
Federal Reserve Probes Goldman’s Consumer Business
China's first population drop in six decades
Microsoft is finalising plans to become the latest technology giant to reduce its workforce during a global economic slowdown
China's foreign ministry branch in Hong Kong urges British gov't to stop the biased and double standards Hong Kong report
China relaxes 'red lines' on property sector borrowing in policy pivot
Tesla slashes prices globally by as much as 20 percent
Japan prosecutors indict man for ex-PM Shinzo Abe murder
Vietnam removes two deputy PMs amid anti-corruption campaign
1.4 Million Copies Of Prince Harry's Memoir 'Spare' Sold On 1st Day In UK
After Failing To Pay Office Rent, Twitter May Sell User Names
FIFA president questioned by prosecutors
Britain's Sunak breaks silence and admits using private healthcare
Hype and backlash as Harry's memoir goes on sale. Unnamed royal source says prince 'kidnapped by cult of psychotherapy and Meghan'
China’s recovery could add 1% to Australia’s GDP: JPMorgan 
Saudi Arabia set to overtake India as fastest-growing major economy this year 
China vows to strengthen financial support for enterprises: official
International medical experts speak out against COVID-19 restrictions on China
2 Billion People To Travel In China's "Great Migration" Over Next 40 Days
Google and Facebook’s dominance in digital ads challenged by rapid ascent of Amazon and TikTok
Flight constraints expected to weigh on China travel rebound
Billionaire Jack Ma relinquishes control of Ant Group
FTX fraud investigators are digging deeper into Sam Bankman-Fried's inner circle – and reportedly have ex-engineer Nishad Singh in their sights
Teslas now over 40% cheaper in China than US
TikTok CEO Plans to Meet European Union Regulators
UK chaos: Hong Kong emigrants duped by false prospectus
China seeks course correction in US ties but will fight ‘all forms of hegemony’, top diplomat Wang Yi says
China will boost spending in 2023
African traders welcome end of China’s Covid travel curbs
France has banned the online sale of paracetamol until February, citing ongoing supply issues
Japan reportedly to give families 1 million yen per child to move out of Tokyo
Will Canada ever become a real democracy?
Hong Kong property brokerages slash payrolls in choppy market
U.S. Moves to Seize Robinhood Shares, Silvergate Accounts Tied to FTX
Effect of EU sanctions on Moscow is ‘less than zero’ – Belgian MEP
Coinbase to Pay $100 Million in Settlement With New York Regulator
Preparations begin for Spring Festival travel rush
×