Hong Kong Letters Patent

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The Hong Kong Letters Patent, formally the Letters Patent Passed under the Great Seal of the United Kingdom, Constituting the Office of Governor and Commander-in-Chief of the Colony of Hong Kong and Its Dependencies, was one of the two principal constitutional instruments of Hong Kong during the period of its administration as a colony under British administration. (The other principal instrument was the Hong Kong Royal Instructions).

Originally issued in the form of a royal charter on 5 April 1843, the Letters Patent were reissued on 19 January 1888, and again on 14 February 1917. The 1917 letters patent (as amended from time to time) remained the basis for Hong Kong's system of government until the formal transfer of sovereignty on 1 July 1997 to the People's Republic of China.

Issued under the royal prerogative, the letters patent were the formal legal basis of the office of Governor and Commander-in-Chief, the Executive Council, and the Legislative Council.

After the transfer of sovereignty to China, the Letters Patent ceased to have effect, being superseded by a new Basic Law.

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