Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Hong Kong

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The Chief Justice of Hong Kong[1] or erroneously Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Hong Kong (Chinese: 首席按察司, later 首席大法官) was the most senior judge in the court system in Hong Kong until 1997.

Supreme Court of Hong Kong[edit]

The Supreme Court of Hong Kong existed from 1844 (before the establishment of the court (1841-1844), legal proceedings would likely have been undertaken by the British military courts and commanding officers) when British civilian control of Hong Kong commenced until 1997 when Hong Kong was returned to China. Only the last Chief Justice, Sir Ti-liang Yang, was Chinese by ethnicity (British subject, later a British Dependent Territory citizen); the remainder were all British or Irish, two of whom, James Russell and Joseph Kemp, spoke Chinese.

Renaming of Supreme Court and title in 1997[edit]

In 1997 the Supreme Court of Hong Kong was renamed the High Court of Hong Kong. The position was accordingly changed to Chief Judge of the High Court, while the role of head of the Hong Kong Judiciary was assumed by the Chief Justice of the Court of Final Appeal. The Court of Final Appeal was established to replace the role of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council as Hong Kong's final appellate court.

List of Pre-1997 Chief Justices[edit]

The following table lists former Chief Justices of the Supreme Court of Hong Kong prior to 1997. See the High Court of Hong Kong for a list of Chief Judges of the High Court.

Chief Justice Term of office Appointer Remarks
1 Blanksvg.svg John Walter Hulme 1844–1860 Sir John Francis Davis First Chief Justice of Hong Kong in 1844. Practising barrister in England. Retired on a Pension.
2 William Henry Adams.jpg William Henry Adams 1860–1865 SIr Hercules Robinson Appointed Attorney General of Hong Kong in 1859. Immediately acted as Chief Justice due to Hulme being on sick leave in 1859. Appointed to substantive position on Hulme's retirement. Died in office.
3 Sir John Jackson Smale.jpg Sir John Jackson Smale 1866–1881 Sir Richard Graves MacDonnell Attorney General of Hong Kong from 1861 to 1866. Retired on a pension.
4 Blanksvg.svg Sir George Phillippo 1882–1888 Malcolm Struan Tonnochy Attorney General of Hong Kong from 1876 to 79. Chief Justice of Gibraltar from 1879 to 1882. Retired on a pension.
5 Blanksvg.svg Sir James Russell 1888–1892 Sir William Des Voeux Puisne Judge of Supreme Court of Hong Kong from 1883 to 1888. Retired due to ill health.
6 Sir Fielding Clarke.jpg Sir Fielding Clarke 1892–1896 Sir William Robinson Chief Judicial Commissioner, Western Pacific (1882 to 1883 and 1884), ()Chief Justice of Fiji (1881-1885) prior to appointment. Became Chief Justice of Jamaica 1896-1911.
7 Sir John Worrell Carrington.jpg Sir John Carrington 1896–1901 Attorney General of British Guiana (1889 to 1896) prior to appointment. Retired on a Pension.
8 William Meigh Goodman.jpg Sir W. Meigh Goodman 1902–1905 Sir Henry Arthur Blake Attorney General of Hong Kong from 1889 to 1902. Former olicitor General of Barbados in 1878 ot 1882, Chief Justice of St Lucia and Tobago 1882 to 1889 and Administrator of Tobago from 1883 to 1885. Retired due to ill health.
9 Francis Taylor Piggott.jpg Sir Francis Piggott 1905–1912 Sir Matthew Nathan Procureur-General of Mauritius 1893-1904 prior to appointment. Compulsorily retired. Commenced practice as junior counsel at bar in Hong Kong 1912-1914.
10 William Rees-Davies.png Sir William Rees-Davies 1912–1924 Claud Severn Attorney General of Hong Kong from 1907 to 1912. Retired on a pension.
11 Henry Cowper Gollan.jpg Sir Henry Gollan 1924–1930 Sir Reginald Edward Stubbs Chief Justice of Bermuda (1904-1911), Attorney General of Ceylon (1918-1924) prior to appointment. member of the Full Court of the British Supreme Court for China in Shanghai 1926-1930. Retired on a pension in 1930.
12 Sir Joseph Kemp.jpg Sir Joseph Kemp 1930–1933 Thomas Southorn Puisne Judge Supreme Court of Hong Kong from 1913 to 1915. Attorney General of Hong Kong from 1915 to 1930. Retired on a pension.
13 Atholl MacGregor, Chief Justice of Hong Kong.png Sir Atholl MacGregor 1934–1945 Sir William Peel Attorney General of Trinidad (1926-1929) and Kenya (1929-1933) prior to appointment. Interned in Stanley Internment Camp, WWII. Died immediately after war en route to England.
14 Click here Sir Henry Blackall 1946–1948 Sir Mark Aitchison Young Chief Justice of Trinidad and Tobago (1943-1946) prior to appointment. Later was appointed President of the West African Court of Appeals (1948-1951).
15 Leslie Gibson Chief Justice of Hong Kong.png Sir Leslie Gibson 1948–1951 Sir Alexander Grantham Attorney General of Trinidad (1940-1944), Attorney General of Palestine (1944-1948) prior to appointment. Later served as legal adviser to the Foreign Office.
16 Gerard Howe.png Sir Gerard Howe 1951–1955 Solicitor General in Nigeria (1941-1946), Attorney General of Nigeria (1946-1950) prior to appointment. Died in office.
17 Click here Sir Michael Hogan 1955–1970 Attorney General in Aden (1944-1945), Attorney General of Malaya (1950-1955) prior to appointment. Picture shows Hogan at opening of 1967 Assizes.
18 Click here Sir Ivo Rigby 1970–1973 Sir David C.C. Trench Senior Puisne Judge, Hong Kong, 1961-1970. Picture shows Rigby heading parade at opening of 1970 Assizes
19 Click here Sir Geoffrey Briggs 1973–1978 Sir Murray MacLehose Puisne Judge, Hong Kong 1965-1973.
20 Click here Sir Denys Roberts 1979–1988 Attorney General of Hong Kong from 1966 to 1973. Colonial/Chief Secretary from 1973 to 1979.
21 Click here Sir Ti-liang Yang 1988–1996 Sir David Wilson First Chinese Chief Justice. Resigned to contest position of Chief Executive of Hong Kong.
Click here Sir Noel Power 1996–1997
Chris Patten Acting CJ pending handover of Hong Kong to China 1997. Vice President of the Court of Appeal of the Supreme Court of Hong Kong. Later Vice-President of the Court of Appeal of the High Court (1997-1999), Justice of the Court of Appeal of Brunei Darussalam (2003-2007) and as President (2007-2009).

See also[edit]