Mixed reports on why foreign judge leaves CFA

A foreign judge sitting on Hong Kong’s top court has been quoted by the UK’s Times newspaper as saying that she plans to quit the Court of Final Appeal (CFA) as concerns grow over the national security law.

According to a statement from the judiciary on Friday, Lady Brenda Hale is stepping down because of personal reasons.

Lady Hale – a former president of the UK Supreme Court – is one of 13 non-permanent overseas judges on the CFA.

Her team with the SAR’s top court will end in July, and the judiciary said she has indicated she would not wish to have her appointment as a non-permanent judge extended beyond that.

According to a report published by the Times newspaper on Friday morning, Lady Hale said at an online conference that “the jury is out on how they will be able to operate the new national security law. There are all sorts of question marks up in the air.”

While the article said Hong Kong authorities are expected to offer her another stint, she told the conference “I don’t wish to be reappointed.”

She added that under the present circumstances, she could not foresee a time when she could get on a plane to fly to Hong Kong.

The former head of the UK Supreme Court also said the remaining foreign judges on the bench were “keeping an eye on what’s going on there (in Hong Kong).”

The statement by the judiciary also pointed out that Hong Kong enjoys judicial independence, and the presence of non-permanent judges allows Hong Kong to maintain links with other common law jurisdictions.

In November last year, the SAR government announced that Australian judge Justice James Spigelman had resigned from the CFA.

Although no reason was given, Australian broadcaster ABC reported at the time that it was for reasons “related to the national security law”.
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Last updated: 2021-06-04 HKT 19:51