4th December 2022 – (Hong Kong) The HKSAR government requested the National People’s Congress to interpret the “National Security Law in Hong Kong”. The National People’s Congress Standing Committee member Tam Yiu-chung believes that it is difficult to provide exceptions for overseas lawyers to participate in local national security cases. If there is no local lawyer to take over the case in the end, the person involved can be sent to the Mainland for trial. Jimmy Lai, the founder of Next Digital, was allowed to hire British barrister Tim Owen KC to defend his case involving the “Hong Kong National Security Law”. In the end, the Hong Kong government asked the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress to interpret the law.
Tam believes that it is difficult to stop foreign lawyers from giving legal advice. For example, if the parties do not disclose that they have consulted overseas legal advice, how can they be stopped? Execution is still problematic. However, Tam emphasised that ban on overseas lawyers to represent the defendant is consistent with the legislative spirit and logic of the National Security Law.
If there are no local practicing lawyers who are willing to take over the case, the case can be transferred to the Mainland for trial. The “National Security Law” has made specific provisions for that. Tam does not agree that it will cause injustice to the defendant, because the mechanism is already stipulated under the law, and he also pointed out that if the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress lists down so many exceptions when explaining, it will be difficult to implement. According to Article 55 of the “Hong Kong National Security Law”, there are only three situations where a case can be tried in the Mainland i.e. the involvement of complex foreign forces, the inability of the SAR government to enforce the law effectively, and the threat to national security.
As for the first “interpretation” of the “National Security Law for Hong Kong” after it was implemented for more than two years, Tam admitted that he did not expect such a development beforehand, but pointed out that the time for the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress to formulate the “National Security Law for the Hong Kong SAR” was done within a short span of time, but overall, the legislation is still complete.