Henry Litton

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Henry Litton

GBM, CBE, SC, JP
Non Permanent Judge of the Court of Final Appeal
In office
2000–2015
Member of the Law Reform Commission
In office
1997–2000
Permanent Judge of the Court of Final Appeal
In office
1997–2000
Personal details
Born (1934-08-07) 7 August 1934 (age 85)
Hong Kong
Spouse(s)Linda Siddall
ChildrenEdward Litton (b.1976)
Georgina Litton (b.1979)
Thomas Litton (b.1980)
ParentsJohn Letablere Litton (1903-1941)
Enid Lo Tak-ching
Alma materDiocesan Boys' School
Merton College, Oxford

Henry Denis Litton CBE, GBM (Chinese transliteration: 烈顯倫) (born 7 August 1934) is a retired judge in Hong Kong.

Early life and education[edit]

Born into a Eurasian family in Hong Kong, Henry Litton excelled in school during his early years first at the Diocesan Boys' School in Hong Kong and then in England which he was educated at King's College, Taunton and Merton College, Oxford, where he graduated with honours in jurisprudence.[1]

His father, John Letablere Litto(1903-1941), served as a gunner in the Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Corps. He was killed in action on 18 December 1941 defending Hong Kong from Japanese attack, and was laid to rest in Stanley Military Cemetery. His mother Enid Tak-ching Lo-Litton was a tennis player and won an impressive thirteen Hong Kong National Championships over a 24-year span. John's maternal uncle was the lawyer Sir Lo Man-kam, part of a prominent Eurasian family. [2] [3]

Legal career[edit]

After passing the Bar exam in 1959, Litton entered into private practice in Hong Kong where he was eminently successful as a trial lawyer. Litton was appointed Queen's Counsel in 1970 and co-founded the Hong Kong Law Journal with Gerald de Basto QC, another local barrister. He also served as Chairman of the Bar Association from 1971 to 1973, from 1977 to 1980 and again from 1983 to 1985.

Litton was appointed in 1987 an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for his contribution to the law[4] and was elevated to the bench in 1992 as a Justice of Appeal. He rose steadily through the ranks, becoming Vice-President of the Court of Appeal in 1995 and a Permanent Judge of the Court of Final Appeal (Hong Kong's court of last resort) in 1997, when British colonial rule in Hong Kong ended and China resumed its sovereignty over the region.

He assumed senior status three years later, citing personal reasons. Until 2015, he continued to hear cases on a part-time basis as a non-permanent judge of the Court he served.[5][6]

In 2007, Litton was appointed a Judicial Commissioner, as well as a Justice of Appeal, of the Supreme Court of Brunei Darussalam.[7]

Extra-judicial life[edit]

In 2019, Litton released his book Is the Hong Kong Judiciary Sleepwalking to 2047?, in which he criticised numerous aspects of Hong Kong’s legal system, focusing particularly on the misuse of judicial reviews in recent years.[8]. He also argued that courts ought not serve as a “debating chamber” to challenge government policy.[9].

Litton is known to be a great advocate of environmentalism; his wife Linda Siddall was a founder and Director of Friends of the Earth (HK)[10] and Litton himself its patron. He is also an avid player of tennis. Litton's son John continues the family's legal eminence, practising at the London and Hong Kong bar since 1989, taking silk in 2010.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Levens, R.G.C., ed. (1964). Merton College Register 1900-1964. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. p. 446.
  2. ^ https://www.geni.com/people/Enid-Tak-Jing-Litton/6000000013486318607
  3. ^ The Hong Kong Telegraph, 1930-11-22
  4. ^ "No. 50948". The London Gazette (Supplement). 12 June 1987. p. 15.
  5. ^ Patsy Moy (9 April 2010). "Called to the Court of Final Appeal". The Standard. Archived from the original on 29 June 2011. Retrieved 23 April 2010.
  6. ^ "Mr Henry Denis LITTON, GBM". Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal. Retrieved 2 February 2016.
  7. ^ "Brunei Darussalam Newsletter (Volume 22, Issue 29)" (PDF). Brunei Darussalam Prime Minister's Office (Department of Information). 15 May 2007. p. 4.
  8. ^ "2019.01.21 Henry Litton, GBM, CBE - Book Launch: Is the Hong Kong Judiciary Sleepwalking to 2047?".
  9. ^ "Legal challenge on co-location 'should have been thrown out'". South China Morning Post. 22 January 2019.
  10. ^ Yun-Wing Sung; Anthony Lawrence; Lok Sang Ho (22 January 1991). The Other Hong Kong Report 1991. Chinese University Press. p. 403. ISBN 9622015387.
Legal offices
Preceded by
Gerald de Basto
Chairman of Hong Kong Bar Association
1971–1973
Succeeded by
Gerald de Basto
Preceded by
Charles Ching
Chairman of Hong Kong Bar Association
1977–1980
Succeeded by
Martin Lee
Preceded by
Martin Lee
Chairman of Hong Kong Bar Association
1983–1985
Succeeded by
Denis Chang
New office Permanent Judge of the Court of Final Appeal
1997–2000
Served alongside: Charles Ching, Kemal Bokhary
Succeeded by
Patrick Chan
Order of precedence
Previous:
William Purves
Recipient of the Grand Bauhinia Medal
Hong Kong order of precedence
Recipient of the Grand Bauhinia Medal
Succeeded by
Li Ka-shing
Recipient of the Grand Bauhinia Medal