Hong Kong Letters Patent 1917

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The Hong Kong Letters Patent 1917[1] was one of the principal constitutional instruments of Hong Kong when she was a British Crown colony and dependent territory; the other principal constitutional instruments were the Hong Kong Letters Patent 1960, the Hong Kong Letters Patent 1982, the Hong Kong Letters Patent 1991 (No. 1), and the Hong Kong Royal Instructions 1917.[2] The Hong Kong Letters Patent 1917 has been amended many times since its coming into force.

The Hong Kong Letters Patent 1917 superseded the letters patent issued on 5 April 1843, all subsequent letters patent amending the 1843 one, and the letters patent issued on 19 January 1888 (which replaced the 1843 letters patent and all those amending the 1843 one). The 1917 letters patent, as amended from time to time, remained part of the basis for Hong Kong's system of government until the transfer of the territory's sovereignty on 1 July 1997 to the People's Republic of China.

Issued under the royal prerogative, the letters patent was 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After the transfer of sovereignty to China, the Hong Kong Letters Patent 1917 ceased to have legal effect, as it is superseded by the new Basic Law.

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  1. ^ The long title is 'Letters Patent Passed under the Great Seal of the United Kingdom, Constituting the Office of Governor and Commander-in-Chief of the Colony of Hongkong and Its Dependencies'
  2. ^ While other post-1917 letters patent only contain provisions amending the 1917 letters patent, each of these three letters patent contain a stipulation that any act done before the amendment concerned coming into force and contrary to that amendment remains valid.

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