Secretary for Justice (Hong Kong)

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Hong Kong
Special Administrative Region

Secretary for Justice
律政司司長
Hong Kong SAR Regional Emblem.svg
Incumbent
Rimsky Yuen, SC

since 1 July 2012
Style The Honourable
Member of Government Secretariat
Executive Council
Reports to Legislative Council
Residence 19 Severn Road, The Peak
Appointer Central People's Government
nomination by Chief Executive
Term length No longer than the Chief Executive's remaining term
Inaugural holder Elsie Leung
Formation 1 July 1997
Website DOJ
Hkpol.jpg
Politics and government of Hong Kong

Basic Law
Chief Executive: Leung Chun-ying
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Chief Secretary: Carrie Lam
Financial Secretary: John Tsang
Secretary for Justice: Rimsky Yuen
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    Convenor: Lam Woon-kwong
Bureaus, depts, etc.
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President: Jasper Tsang
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   Pan-democracy camp
   Pro-Beijing camp
Judiciary
Court of Final Appeal
    Chief Justice: Geoffrey Ma
High Court
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District Councils
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Universal suffrage

Other Hong Kong topics
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Hong Kong Portal

The Secretary for Justice (Chinese: 律政司司長) is the head of the Hong Kong Department of Justice, the chief legal advisor to the Chief Executive of Hong Kong, and the chief law enforcement officer of the Government of Hong Kong. Before the end of British rule in 1997, the position was known as the Attorney-General of Hong Kong.

The Secretary for Justice, after the Chief Secretary and the Financial Secretary, is one of the three highest Principal Officials of the Government. The Secretary for Justice belongs to the Policy Committee, chaired by the Chief Secretary, and is normally a member of the Executive Council.

The Secretary for Justice is nominated by the Chief Executive and takes office after appointment by the Government of the People's Republic of China, which is responsible for Hong Kong's foreign affairs and defence. The office of the Secretary for Justice was established by the Hong Kong Basic Law,[1] which guarantees the power of the Department of Justice to control criminal prosecutions free from any interference.[2]

The current Secretary for Justice is Rimsky Yuen, SC.

Role[edit]

In the course of discharging his or her duties as the chief legal advisor to the Chief Executive of Hong Kong, the Secretary for Justice is assisted by 5 law officers, namely:

Ranking in the Hong Kong Government[edit]

The Secretary for Justice is the third in line, after the Chief Secretary and the Financial Secretary, to act for the Chief Executive when he or she is on leave, outside Hong Kong, or when the position is otherwise temporarily vacant.

The Secretary for Justice ranks fifth in the Hong Kong order of precedence.

Official residence[edit]

The Secretary of Justice has an official residence at 19 Severn Road, The Peak.

Pre-1997 position[edit]

Before the 1997 handover to China, the position was known as the Attorney General (Chinese: 律政司), and the department was known as the Legal Department (Chinese: 律政署) and was also known as the Attorney General's Chambers (Chinese: 律政司署). The office of the Attorney General was never localized during British rule and no Hong Kong Chinese ever held this key post.

List of Secretaries/Attorneys General[edit]

Attorneys General before 1997[edit]

No. Portrait Name Term of office Notes
1 Paul Ivy Sterling 1844-1855 First Attorney General (AG) of Hong Kong. Appointed Puisne Judge in Ceylon
2 Thomas Chisolm Anstey.jpg Thomas Chisholm Anstey 1855-1859 Former member of British Parliament. Practiced at Bombay bar after retirement.
3 William Henry Adams.jpg William Adams 1859-1860 Did not act as AG. Was appointed acting Chief Justice immediately on arrival in Hong Kong and then appointed Chief Justice of Hong Kong
4 Sir John Jackson Smale.jpg Sir John Smale 1860-1866 Appointed Chief Justice of Hong Kong
5 Julian Pauncefote AG of Hong Kong.jpg Sir Julian Pauncefote 1866-1873 Appointed Chief Justice of the Leeward Islands. Later had a very illustrious career in the Foreign Office. Became Lord Pauncefote.
6 Sir John Bramston.jpg Sir John Bramston 1873-1876 Appointed Assistant Under Secretary of State in the Colonial Office
7 Sir George Phillippo 1876-1879 First non-British-born AG - born in Jamaica. Appointed Chief Justice of Hong Kong
8 Edward Loughlin O'Malley.png Sir Edward O'Malley 1880-1889 Appointed Chief Justice of the Straits Settlements
9 William Meigh Goodman.jpg Sir W. Meigh Goodman, QC/KC 1890-1902 Appointed Chief Justice of Hong Kong
10 Henry Spencer Berkeley.png Sir Henry Spencer Berkeley, KC 1902-1906 Previously Chief Justice of Fiji. Retired to practice at Hong Kong bar.
11 William Rees-Davies.png Sir William Rees Davies, KC 1907-1912 Appointed Chief Justice of Hong Kong
12 Click Here Sir John Bucknill, KC 1912-1914 Appointed Chief Justice of the Straits Settlements
13 Click Here Sir Joseph Kemp, KC 1914-1930 Puisne Judge, Hong Kong, prior to appointment. Next appointed Chief Justice of Hong Kong.
14 Grenville Alabaster.png Sir C. Grenville Alabaster, KC 1930-1946 Interned in Stanley Internment Camp during World War II. Retired after the war.
World War II December 1941
- March 1946
British administration suspended during Japanese occupation during World War II. Military Government from August 1945 to March 1946.
15 John Bowes Griffin.png John Bowes Griffin, KC 1946-1951 Appointed in December 1946. G.E. Strickland, acted as AG before Bowes Griffin's appointment. Bowes Griffin was next appointed Chief Justice of Uganda.
16 Arthur Ridehalgh, KC/QC 1952-1961 Last AG to be a KC. Retired on a pension.
17 Click Here Maurice Heenan, QC 1962-1966 Non-British-born (born in New Zealand). Crown Counsel prior to appointment. Resigned to join United Nations.
18 Click Here Denys Roberts, QC 1966-1973 Appointed Colonial/Chief Secretary (1973-1979) and then Chief Justice of Hong Kong. Retired on a pension.
19 Click Here John Hobley, QC 1973-1979 Served as Crown Counsel in Hong Kong and briefly as Attorney General of Bermuda. Retired on a pension.
20 Click Here John Griffiths, QC 1979-1983 Last non-British-born AG - born in Persia (now Iran). Entered private practice at the English and Hong Kong bars after retirement.
21 Click Here Michael Thomas, QC 1983-1988 Last QC to be AG. Entered private practice at Hong Kong and English bars after retirement.
22 Click Here Jeremy Mathews 1988 - 30 June 1997 First solicitor to be appointed AG. Last AG. Retired at end of British rule in Hong Kong.

Secretaries for Justice after 1997[edit]

Parties
  DAB
No. Portrait Name Took Office Left Office Chief Executives Term
1 Elsie Leung.jpg Elsie Leung 1 July 1997 30 June 2002 Tung Chee-hwa 1
1 July 2002 30 June 2005 2
30 June 2005 19 October 2005 Donald Tsang
2 Wong Yan Lung.jpg Wong Yan-lung SC 20 October 2005 30 June 2007
1 July 2007 30 June 2012 3
3 Rimsky Yuen SC 1 July 2012 Incumbent CY Leung 4

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Article 53, Hong Kong Basic Law
  2. ^ Article 63, Hong Kong Basic Law