Former Secretary for Justice Elsie Leung agrees with CFA’s ruling to allow Jimmy Lai to hire British barrister Tim Owen KC

Former Secretary for Justice Elsie Leung

30th November 2022 – (Hong Kong) Jimmy Lai, the founder of Next Digital, hired British barrister Tim Owen KC, to defend him in the National Security case. The Department of Justice appealed to the Court of Final Appeal and was rejected on Monday (28th). An article written by the former Secretary for Justice and former deputy director of the Basic Law Committee, Elsie Leung Oi-sie, was widely circulated in the legal circles, refuting the voices demanding an interpretation of the law point by point, expressly supporting the ruling of the Court of Final Appeal, and believing that overseas barristers should be dealt with in accordance with the current legal procedures.

In response to criticism on some British lawyers who did not understand the National Security Law, she questioned “How much experience do Hong Kong barristers have instead?” She even questioned, “Someone asked for an interpretation of the law but which one should be interpreted?” After the ruling of the Court of Final Appeal, the government announced that it would submit a written statement to the Central government to express its views before requesting the interpretation of the law. However, she emphasised that she only agreed with the court’s ruling and did not object to the interpretation.

Leung Oi-sie’s article is titled “Supporting the Court of Final Appeal’s ruling in the Jimmy Lai case”, which means that she agreed with the Court of Final Appeal’s rejection of the government’s appeal, but adds that she did not study the judgment at the time. The article mentioned that President Xi Jinping emphasised the importance of maintaining the common law system and smooth and convenient international connections in Hong Kong in his 1st July speech. Leung pointed out that the National Security Law has special provisions on the composition of courts, investigators, and prosecutors in Articles 44, 16, and 18, but there are no special requirements for defence. Hong Kong courts have a set of rules for hiring foreign barristers to participate in litigation in Hong Kong. Based on the principle of maturity, it is believed that local laws should be followed in accordance with Article 41 of the National Security Law.