New Chief Justice Andrew Cheung urges impartiality for judges
New Chief Justice Andrew Cheung Kui-nung asked judges to exercise “self restraint” and pay extra attention to maintain impartiality when they rule in high profile court cases.
Succeeding Geoffrey Ma Tao-li who retired last week, Cheung, 59, is the city's third Chief Justice since the handover. He was sworn in at Government House this morning, where he took the Judicial Oath administered by the Chief Executive Carrie Lam.
Addressing a ceremony to mark the legal year, Cheung said: "Judges are human. It is only natural that, like others in society, judges may have and are indeed entitled to their own personal views and beliefs. However, a judge must decide cases objectively and professionally, independent of his own personal views or beliefs, political or otherwise.”
He emphasized that perception is as important as reality when it comes to impartiality.
“When dealing with high profile cases or cases with a political flavor, judges must be particularly careful with their appearance of impartiality in terms of what they say in court or write in their judgments, or how they treat the parties, their lawyers or the witnesses,” he said.
Any lapses in this regard, given the potentially polarizing nature of these cases, could lead to public suspicions and could undermine public confidence in the judicial system.
Cheung said with the condition that judicial independence won't be undermined, there is still room for further enhancement of the transparency and accountability of the judiciary's complaint handling mechanism.
A review of the existing mechanism, which was last reviewed in 2016, will be undertaken with a view to further enhance its transparency and accountability.