Hong Kong Bar Association

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Hong Kong Bar Association
Logo of the Hong Kong Bar Association.jpeg
Formation12 March 1948
Legal statusSociety under the Societies Ordinance
HeadquartersLG2, High Court, 38 Queensway, Hong Kong
Region served
Hong Kong
Philip Dykes SC
Hong Kong Bar Association
Traditional Chinese香港大律師公會
Simplified Chinese香港大律师公会

The Hong Kong Bar Association (HKBA) is the professional regulatory body for barristers in Hong Kong. The Law Society of Hong Kong is the equivalent association for solicitors in Hong Kong.

Philip Dykes SC is the current chairman of the Council of the HKBA.


Advertisement announcing the formation of the Hong Kong Bar Association in March 1948

According to its website, the Hong Kong Bar Association was founded in 1949.[1] However, a newspaper advertisement from March 1948 records the foundation of the association on 12 March 1948 with Mr Eldon Potter KC being elected President, Mr H.D. Sheldon KC being elected chairman and Mr Percy Chen being elected Secretary Treasurer. The offices of the Association were located in the offices of Mr Chen in Prince's Building, Hong Kong.[2]


The objects of the Hong Kong Bar Association are generally to consider and to take proper action on all matters affecting the legal profession and the administration of justice. These include:

  • the maintenance of the honour and independence of the Bar;
  • the improvement of the administration of justice in Hong Kong;
  • the prescribing of rules of professional conduct, discipline and etiquette;
  • furtherance of good relations and understanding within the legal profession.

Like other professional bodies, the HKBA has the authority to take disciplinary action to the members who breach the Code of Conduct of the Association. The Law Society of Hong Kong is the equivalent association for solicitors in Hong Kong.

Route to entry[edit]

List of members of the Hong Kong Bar Association in 1964

Students must first complete a basic degree in law, such as the Bachelor of Laws (LLB), Juris Doctor (JD) or convert from another first degree with the Common Professional Examination (CPE).

They must then complete the Postgraduate Certificate in Laws (PCLL) at The University of Hong Kong, the City University of Hong Kong or The Chinese University of Hong Kong. From 2008 onwards, all overseas applicants to the PCLL must satisfy each element of the PCLL conversion programme.

After finishing PCLL, prospective barristers will enter pupillage with a pupilmaster for a year; after half a year they will gain rights of audience in court.

Overseas barristers may, having at least three years' experience, take the Barristers Qualification Examination to officially become a Hong Kong barrister.[3]

Additionally, lawyers of at least three years' qualified experience may apply to switch membership of either the HKBA or The Law Society of Hong Kong. However, one may not enjoy membership of both entities at once. For example, the No. 1 ranked barrister in seniority in 2007, Sir John Swaine SC, switched to become a solicitor in 2002, but switched back in 2004. Solicitors seeking to qualify as barrister are required to do pupillage, however, the period may be shortened for those with substantial advocacy experience.[4]

Number of practising barristers[edit]

As of December 2017, there were 99 Senior Counsel (88 male, 11 female), and 1,326 (914 male, 412 female) junior barristers in practice at the private bar in Hong Kong.[5] There were 89 pupil barristers of whom 53 were male and 36 female.[6]

Senior Counsel[edit]

After gaining ten years' experience as a barrister or government counsel in Hong Kong, a barrister admitted in Hong Kong may apply to become a Senior Counsel (SC) (資深大律師).[7] Time in practice as a barrister or lawyer in another jurisdiction or as a solicitor in private practice in Hong Kong does not count.[8] The Law Society of Hong Kong has called for this to be changed, so that solicitors may also be appointed Senior Counsel.[9]

In colonial Hong Kong before 1997, the title was instead Queen's Counsel (QC) (御用大律師). After the transfer of sovereignty, Queen's Counsel who had been appointed QC in HK or British Queen's Counsel who had been admitted to practice in Hong Kong generally prior to the handover became Senior Counsel automatically.[10]

List of chairpersons[edit]

By year:

By chairs (current chair in bold)

  1. Harold Sheldon, KC (1948–49)
  2. Charles Loseby, KC, QC (1950, 53)
  3. Leo D'Almada, KC, QC (1951, 54, 57, 59, 61-62)
  4. John McNeill, QC (1952, 55-56, 58)
  5. Lo Hin Shing (1960)
  6. Brook Bernacchi, QC (1963)
  7. S.V. Gittins (1964–65, 67)
  8. Oswald Cheung, QC (1966)
  9. Gerald de Basto, QC (1968–70, 73)
  10. Henry Litton, QC (1971–72, 77-79, 83-84)
  11. Archie Zimmern, QC (1974)
  12. Charles Ching, QC (1975–76)
  13. Martin Lee, QC (1980–82)
  14. Denis Chang, QC (1985–87)
  15. Robert Tang, QC (1988–89)
  16. Anthony Rogers, QC (1990–91)
  17. Jacqueline Leong, QC (1992–93)
  18. Ronny Wong, QC (1994)
  19. Gladys Li, QC (1995–96)
  20. Audrey Eu, QC, SC (1997–98)
  21. Ronny Tong, SC (1999-2000)
  22. Alan Leong, SC (2001–02)
  23. Edward Chan, SC (2003–04)
  24. Philip Dykes, SC (2005–06, 2018–20)
  25. Rimsky Yuen, SC (2007–08)
  26. Russell Coleman, SC (2009–10)
  27. Kumar Ramanathan, SC (2011–12)
  28. Paul Shieh, SC (2013–14)
  29. Winnie Tam, SC (2015–16)
  30. Paul Lam, SC (2017)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Website of the HKBA
  2. ^ Advertisement in the South China Morning Post, 21 March 1948, p12
  3. ^ HKBA website on general admission
  4. ^ S.16 Barristers (Qualification for Admission and Pupillage) Rules
  5. ^ Government lawyers with the Department of Justice are not required to hold practising certificates through the HKBA, so the actual numbers in practice is higher than these. See: Ss.3 and 4 of the Legal Officers Ordinance
  6. ^ HKBA Bar List
  7. ^ S.31A, Legal Practitioners Ordinance
  8. ^ Time in practice as a solicitor as Hong Kong government counsel does count
  9. ^ Hong Kong Law Society president seeks senior counsel status for solicitors South China Morning Post, 7 February 2015
  10. ^ See the savings and transitional provisions contained in s. 2 of Schedule 2 to Ordinance No. 94 of 1997

External links[edit]