In a talk entitled Global justice and globetrotting judges, DVC’s Winnie Tam SC, JP chaired a world cafe style session at the recent IBA Conference in Seoul on 24th September.
The session explored the issues associated with the administration of and delivery of justice in international courts. The speakers also contemplated the unique position of foreign judges who sit in appellate courts of domestic jurisdiction.
The Hon. Mr Justice Joseph Fok, PJ took the audience through the special facets of the court’s jurisdiction in HK with specific regard to the Court of Final Appeal, (CFA) and a novel but significant feature of the HK judicial system which enables visiting judges, usually made up of 1 voice out of 5, to sit on the CFA to hear appeals.
Mr Justice Fok explained that the CFA was established after the Handover in 1997 and that it replaced the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London as the highest Court in Hong Kong. He clarified that it heard civil and criminal appeals. The Basic Law, he elucidated, which came into effect after the 1997 Handover, guaranteed that the previous legal system would remain in tact and he verified that Article 81 in particular stipulates that the CFA may invite judges from common law jurisdictions to sit on the CFA, which the speaker maintained was a contributing factor to the success of the Court since its establishment. The rationale for this was to ensure a combination of a deep bench of experience, drawn from diverse fields of law, as well as a commitment to the preservation and reaffirmation of the rule of law, and the independence of the Court and the HK judiciary, amongst other things.
Winnie deftly chaired the lively panel which consisted of speakers, the Hon. Mr Justice Joseph Fok, PJ and Justice Quentin Loh, Supreme Court of Singapore. Co-moderators included: the Hon Justice Martin Daubney AM, Supreme Court of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, Member, Judges’ Forum Advisory Board, and Justice Ngozika Okaisabor, Customary Court of Appeal, Abuja, Nigeria, Vice Chair, Judges’ Forum.