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Legislative Council by-election 2018

Judge denies review of decision to ban Agnes Chow from Hong Kong by-election

Justice Anderson Chow says that a review of the case would have a ‘most deleterious effect’ on the by-election but says the results could be challenged after the vote

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 28 February, 2018, 6:07pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 February, 2018, 8:50pm

A former civil servant known for taking the Hong Kong government to court was on Wednesday barred from mounting a judicial review challenging a decision to ban Agnes Chow Ting from running in the Legislative Council by-election next month.

The High Court heard Kwok Cheuk-kin question why returning officer Anne Teng disqualified Chow, a pro-democracy activist and member of Demosisto, from the polls on March 11 despite having validated her party chairman Nathan Law Kwun-chung’s nomination to run for the 2016 elections.

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But Mr Justice Anderson Chow Ka-ming on Wednesday ruled that it was “plain that the remedy of judicial review should, as a matter of discretion, be refused at this stage”.

“Granting leave to apply for judicial review could have a ‘most deleterious effect’ on the forthcoming by-election,” the judge wrote in his five-page judgment.

Instead, the judge pointed out that the results of the by-election could be challenged afterwards by Agnes Chow herself, or by 10 or more voters of the Hong Kong Island constituency.

Agnes Chow, 21, was seeking to become the city’s youngest ever lawmaker by contesting the Hong Kong Island constituency seat vacated by Law, 24, after he was disqualified by court last year for taking an improper oath during the swearing-in ceremony.

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But her candidacy was ruled invalid last month on the grounds that her party had called for “self-determination” for the city, rendering her ineligible under rules to curb independence advocacy.

Kwok, more widely known as the city’s “king of judicial reviews”, filed an application just two days later arguing Teng had committed maladministration.

But the judge explained that the court needed “very compelling reasons” to intervene before the elections.

Yet Kwok, being a Cheung Chau resident, was neither a candidate nor voter to the Hong Kong Island constituency.

Kwok said he would study the judgment with his lawyers to see if he should appeal.