Judiciary to return to Legco Building

PUBLISHED : Friday, 17 April, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 17 April, 2009, 12:00am

The judiciary will return to the Legislative Council Building in the form of the Court of Final Appeal in 2012, a century after the building was inaugurated as the Supreme Court.

The court will occupy the building once the legislature moves to Tamar in Admiralty.

'The building is the most appropriate location for the [Court of Final Appeal], having regard to the court's status as the city's final appellate court at the apex of the judicial system,' Chief Justice Andrew Li Kwok-nang said yesterday.

He had asked the administration to restore the historic building to its judicial use over the past few years.

He said the court's existing premises at the former French Mission Building on Battery Path, with about 1,000 square metres of space, was inadequate for judges, lawyers, the media and the public. The Legco Building is three times the size.

The building was designed by Ingress Bell and Sir Aston Webb, who also created the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Buckingham Palace facade in London. Construction started in 1900 and took 12 years to finish because the building contractor died and there was not enough granite. It was used as the Supreme Court until 1984.

The neoclassical architecture is supported by tall columns and bears a blindfolded statue of Justice, the Greek goddess Themis.

Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen said the relocation decision would accord fully with the spirit of conserving heritage. 'The government hopes to hand over the Legco Building to the judiciary in 2012 - in time for its centenary celebrations.'

Bar Association chairman Russell Coleman SC said the legal community would welcome the move.