Last-minute hitch to appointment

PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 May, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 23 May, 1997, 12:00am

A last-minute hitch has been discovered to the process for appointing Andrew Li Kwok-nang as first chief justice of the Court of Final Appeal.

The Government is to introduce a bill to the Legislative Council next Wednesday to solve a catch-22 which has emerged that would otherwise prevent any judges being appointed in the Special Administrative Region.

By law, the Judicial Officers' Recommendation Committee, the body that will meet in the early hours of July 1, needs a chairman and six other members to reach a quorum.

But without the judge members of the committee, there will only be six members in total - one short of the figure to start a meeting.

'It couldn't be quorate so we need to do something,' said director of administration Richard Hoare, who added the problem was overlooked when the Court of Final Appeal Ordinance was passed.

The bill will amend the law for a day to allow former judges to take office on the committee.

It is expected the committee will meet at the Convention Centre early on July 1. After rubberstamping the decision it reached informally last week, it is expected the chief justice will be quickly sworn in and a telex sent to Beijing to notify the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress.

After acceptance by the Provisional Legislative Council, Mr Li will be formally installed.