Saturday, April 23, 2011
Legal system and judiciary in Hong Kong
Hong Kong's legal system is completely independent from the legal system of China. In contrast to mainland China's civil law system, Hong Kong continues to follow the English Common Law tradition established under British rule. Hong Kong's courts may refer to decisions rendered by courts of other common law jurisdictions as precedents, and judges from other common law jurisdictions are allowed to sit as non-permanent judges of the Court of Final Appeal.
Structurally, the court system consists of the Court of Final Appeal, the High Court, which is made up of the Court of Appeal and the Court of First Instance, and the District Court, which includes the Family Court. Other adjudicative bodies include the Lands Tribunal, the Magistrates' Courts, the Juvenile Court, the Coroner's Court, the Labour Tribunal, the Small Claims Tribunal, and the Obscene Articles Tribunal. Justices of the Court of Final Appeal are appointed by Hong Kong's Chief Executive.
The Department of Justice is responsible for handling legal matters for the government. Its responsibilities include providing legal advice, criminal prosecution, civil representation, legal and policy drafting and reform, and international legal cooperation between different jurisdictions. Apart from prosecuting criminal cases, lawyers of the Department of Justice act on behalf of the government in all civil and administrative lawsuits against the government. As protector of the public interest, the department may apply for judicial reviews and may intervene in any cases involving the greater public interest. The Basic Law protects the Department of Justice from any interference by the government when exercising its control over criminal prosecution.