Geoffrey Ma

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The Honourable Mr. Justice

Geoffrey Ma Tao-li
馬道立
2nd Chief Justice of the Court of Final Appeal
Incumbent
Assumed office
1 September 2010
Appointed by Donald Tsang
Preceded by Andrew Li
Chief Judge of the High Court
In office
14 July 2003 – 31 August 2010
Appointed by Tung Chee Hwa
Justice of Appeal of the Court of Appeal of the High Court
In office
2002–2003
Judge of the Court of First Instance of the High Court
In office
2001–2002
Personal details
Born 11 January 1956 (1956-01-11)
Hong Kong
Alma mater University of Birmingham

Geoffrey Ma Tao-li GBM QC SC (Chinese: ; born 11 January 1956) is the incumbent Chief Justice of the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal. Between 2001 and 2010, he has held various positions in the High Court of Hong Kong, including Chief Judge, Justice of Appeal, and Judge of the Court of First Instance. Before his judicial career, he was a barrister-at-law in private practice, and was qualified to practise in England and Wales, Hong Kong, Australia and Singapore.

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Hong Kong, Geoffrey Ma received his education near Manchester, England. In 1974, he started his studies at the University of Birmingham and graduated with an LLB in 1977.[1] In 1978, he was called to the Bar by Gray's Inn in London and commenced his practice as a Barrister in England and Wales.

He is an Honorary Fellow of Harris Manchester College, Oxford.

Legal career[edit]

Ma was called to Bar in Hong Kong, State of Victoria, Australia and Singapore in 1980, 1983 and 1990 respectively. He was appointed Queen's Counsel in 1993.[2] He was the Head of Chambers of Temple Chambers in Hong Kong prior to his judicial appointment.[1]

He was appointed by the Hong Kong Judiciary as Recorder of the Court of First Instance of the High Court in December 2000. In December 2001, Ma became a Judge of the Court of First Instance of the High Court.[2] In 2002, Ma was elevated to the position of Justice of Appeal of the Court of Appeal of the High Court.[3] In July 2003, he was appointed as Chief Judge of the High Court in Hong Kong.

Ma was also a member of the Working Party on Civil Justice Reform, which came into effect in April 2009 and is aimed at lowering legal costs and improving assess to justice. Addressing almost 200 legal professionals at a forum in April 2010, Ma criticised judges for being too lenient in civil proceedings with time-wasting parties[4] and encouraged judges to fully utilize their new case management power under the Civil Justice Reform to ensure expediency. He also warned lawyers against devising new tactics to make civil proceedings unnecessarily lengthy and inefficient.[5]

On 8 April 2010, it was announced that Chief Executive of Hong Kong Donald Tsang has accepted the recommendation of the Judicial Officers Recommendation Commission to appoint Ma as the successor to the current Chief Justice of the Court of Final Appeal Andrew Li.[6] On 9 June 2010, his appointment was approved by the Legislative Council by a majority vote.[7]

Ma had a number of public appointments, which include serving as an Associate Member of the London Maritime Arbitrators Association, an Honorary lecturer of the Department of Professional Legal Education of the University of Hong Kong, a Member of the Criminal and Law Enforcement Injuries Compensation Board, a Member of the High Court Civil Court Users Committee, a Member of the Hong Kong Futures Exchange Disciplinary Appeal Tribunal, Chairman of the Appeal Tribunal Panel (Buildings), Deputy Chairman of the SFC Appeals Panel, and Deputy Chairman of the SFC Takeovers Appeals Committee.[2]

He was elected an Honorary Bencher of Gray's Inn in 2004, making him the third person in Hong Kong conferred with such honour.[8]

Reception[edit]

Legislator and Senior Counsel Audrey Eu and Ronny Tong believed Ma will continue to defend the independence of the Hong Kong judiciary, but described him as sometimes a little too "conservative."[9] Tong cited an appeal from September 2009 when Ma and fellow judges criticized the government for not disclosing information but eventually ruled in favor of an Immigration Department decision to deny entry to Falun Gong practitioners on "security grounds."[10] Also, in December 2008, he was part of a Court of Appeal panel that overturned a lower court ruling that acquitted the operators of Citizens' Radio of unlicensed broadcasting.

On the other hand, the Hong Kong Bar Association said in a statement Ma commands "deep respect" and is "eminently qualified". Similarly, Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor Director Law Yuk-kai said he was pleased to see Ma's rich experience in public law. "He is strong in public law. He has the competence to protect constitutional rights," Law said. "Of course we were disappointed about some cases, but I don't think he is going out of the way to side with the government. I hope he understands that his role is very important. Hong Kong doesn't have democracy. We expect there is at least one branch of government that serves as the last protector of our rights and interests."[11]

Family[edit]

Geoffrey Ma is married to Maria Yuen Ka-ning, who is also a Justice of Appeal of the Court of Appeal of the High Court. They have one daughter.[2] To avoid any possible conflict of interest, Ma would not hear appeals from cases in which Yuen has sat. Nor would he deal with any administrative matter concerning her. [10]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Mr Justice Geoffrey Ma Tao-Li Birmingham Law School
  2. ^ a b c d "Appointment of High Court Judge". Hong Kong Government. 28 November 2000. Retrieved 7 April 2010. 
  3. ^ "Judicial Appointment". Hong Kong Government. 14 November 2002. Retrieved 7 April 2010. 
  4. ^ "Next Chief Justice criticises judges". RTHK. 15 April 2010. Retrieved 26 April 2010. 
  5. ^ Colleen Lee (16 April 2010). "New chief warns time wasters". The Standard. Retrieved 26 April 2010. 
  6. ^ "Appointment of the Chief Justice of the Court of Final Appeal". Hong Kong Government. 8 April 2010. Retrieved 8 April 2010. 
  7. ^ Phila Siu and Colleen Lee (10 June 2010). "Ma confirmed as next chief justice". The Standard. Retrieved 10 June 2010. 
  8. ^ "Chief Judge elected Gray's Inn Honorary Bencher". Hong Kong Government. 21 December 2004. Retrieved 7 April 2010. [dead link]
  9. ^ "Geoffrey Ma named as new Chief Justice". RTHK. 8 April 2010. Retrieved 26 April 2010. 
  10. ^ a b Patsy Moy (9 April 2010). "New chief justice gives oath on lawyer wife". The Standard. Retrieved 26 April 2010. 
  11. ^ Joyce Woo (9 April 2010). "HK top judge nominee praised as good for rights". AP. Retrieved 26 April 2010. 

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Arthur Leong
Chief Judge of the High Court
2003–2010
Succeeded by
Andrew Cheung
Preceded by
Andrew Li
Chief Justice of the Court of Final Appeal
2010–present
Incumbent
Order of precedence
Preceded by
CY Leung
Chief Executive of Hong Kong
Hong Kong order of precedence
Chief Justice of the Court of Final Appeal
Succeeded by
Tung Chee Hwa
Former Chief Executives