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  • Dec 22, 2014
  • Updated: 3:57pm
NewsHong Kong

Calls for judicial review of HKTV case 'ironic', ex-top judge Andrew Li says

Officials backing court probe of ruling opposed such legal action before, ex-top judge points out

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 November, 2013, 6:14am
UPDATED : Thursday, 14 November, 2013, 1:41pm

The former chief justice has weighed into the free-to-air TV licensing row, saying it is ironic some officials have urged a judicial review to deal with the issue.

Andrew Li Kwok-nang told a Hong Kong Bankers Club lunch the same officials had previously raised concerns that such court proceedings were being abused.

Li said the courts were not there to solve political, social or economic problems, and could only determine the limits of legality.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has refused to disclose publicly the reasons behind the Executive Council's decision to issue only two new free-to-air TV licences, thereby denying flamboyant internet entrepreneur Ricky Wong Wai-kay's Hong Kong Television Network a licence.

However, he said last month: "The government made the decision according to the laws, policies and procedure. It will be the same regardless of any judicial review ... If there is one, the court will hear our arguments."

Before his appointment as chief executive, Leung said in 2011 that people who lodged judicial reviews of the government's infrastructure projects and used legal means to challenge its policies delayed administration and increased its workload.

Li said: "A lot of people have raised this question of abuse of judicial review proceedings. Perhaps it's ironic that in recent days there are some people in the executive branch and the district branch who have urged having a judicial review to deal with this TV licence question."

He added: "Some of the people who are now urging that there should be a judicial review are people who have commented there are too many judicial reviews in Hong Kong."

The government's decision to deny HKTV a licence sparked heated debate and calls for a court to examine the government's decision-making process.

The judiciary, Li argued, had adopted a sound system to screen out "unarguable" cases. "Those cases given permission [by the court] could not be seen as an abuse of process, however inconvenient they might be for the government," he said.

Legislative Council President Jasper Tsang Yok-sing and Exco convenor Lam Woon-kwong have called for an internal review of the process that led to the decision on licences - one that Lam said deviated from public expectations. However, Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor yesterday reiterated in Legco that the chief executive did not intend to initiate any review.

"The existing system has been working well," she added.

Li also addressed the Basic Law. He said: "In my view, the [National People's Congress] Standing Committee's power to interpret the Basic Law should not be exercised to override a court judgment in Hong Kong, especially one of the Court of Final Appeal."

Video: Thousands of HKTV supporters gather again at government HQ to protests against decision to deny channel a licence


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This article is now closed to comments

hard times !
While asked by someone during a luncheon meeting of the accountant sector on his views on the 'judicial review' of the 'HKTV case', our former Chief Justice said that it sounds scarastic that someone now in the governing team (e.g.the secretary for commerce and economic development,Mr.So Kam-leung) has asked Ricky Wong to seek a judical review instead of launching a session by the Legco by using the Powers & Privileges Ordinance in the HKTV's denial a license case.Yet these people in the past years (since 2005) have continued to criticized the use of 'judicial review' by the public in their disputes with the government. Mr.Lee Kwok-lung has spoken the truth indeed !
Thumbs up to Andrew for saying the right thing. Our courts are already loaded with cases and the Judiciary actually encourages mediation and out-of-court settlement. It does seem absurd that the Government is actually daring Ricky to launch a judicial review when it could have handled the issue much better.
You have obviously been here a long time 'pslhk', I wonder if you can remember how frequently JRs were sought against the former British Colonial Government's EXCO decisions?
I thought it was supposed to be 50 years of "No Change"!
Legal discourse is categorically in-the box
In retirement, AL is getting more lost than before
There are no such “limits of legality”
that Li said the courts “could only determine”
Legality defined simply as lawfulness
is what judges are duty-bound to determine
There is a legal aspect in every issue of relations
between and among persons and legal entities
Judges must hear and decide every case
that they are authorized and enjoined
Judicial limits are jurisdictional and intellectual
the power and acumen required for adjudication
No court can deny hearing any case that’s
of “great general or public importance” within its jurisdiction
The court of public opinion will rule
whether the court rightly decides
the GGP importance or not of a case
In the estuary bridge’s environmental case
the review applicant later profusely apologized
for allowing an instigator to use her
to press the case against public interest
The tv license case is materially different
As Fuller’s “Speluncean Explorers” show
there are various ways to adjudicate a simple case
Power and public interest should be the final arbiter
If lost, an honest or incompetent judge should recuse
instead of mouthing rubbish such as
NPC shouldn’t override a local court’s ruling
The real question is whether the superior authority
rightly overrides the local court
for the best pragmatic interest of 1C2S
“judicialization of social issues
is (needed because / the result) of
Hong Kong’s democratic deficit”
Though I find this argument of J Chan HKU law dean ridiculous
it may explain JR’s popularity which the judiciary and pan-dem
seemed to embrace immediately post re-union
as a sign of people’s trust in the wigged court
As the Li dynasty began to recognize practical consequences / complexities
it changed tack from the need for vigilance to cheery-picking preference
My opinion based on memory and impression is what it is
without any pretension of absolute correctness
Counter arguments are welcome


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