Twelve months ago, Hong Kong's Chief Justice, Sir Ti Liang Yang, as he then was, travelled to Beijing to brief mainland judges on progress in establishing the Court of Final Appeal. There was little progress on that occasion, and, a year later, there appears to have no more progress, either. With 45 days left before Hong Kong returns to China, the important post of Chief Justice has still not been allocated after a vacancy of seven months. An announcement is expected shortly, but it would have been advantageous if the appointment had been made earlier if only in order to help end the delay in setting up the Court of Final Appeal. In London, the Privy Council is overwhelmed with case work from litigants who prefer to have their appeals heard before the Hong Kong court is in operation. Four years of wrangling over the issue have done nothing to enhance the image which the court needs if it is to begin with credibility and authority. It may be difficult to assemble a panel of judges with expertise in all areas of law because other common law jurisdictions can bar their judges from sitting in foreign courts. Some foreign judges have suggested that the issue has already become too politicised, and they might hesitate to sit if called. Recent personnel changes to the Judicial Services Commission have been seen in legal circles as being politically motivated which has added to disquiet. This is the body which elects judges, and its impartiality should not be in question. The prospect of an unelected legislature endorsing the appointment of judges also opens up the prospect of politics moving into what should be a fenced-off legal area. The arrangement now is that provisional legislators will rubber stamp judicial appointments immediately after the handover ceremony. The aim is 'to boost the credibility and legality of the appointment of judges by the interim body'. But the continuing credibility of the Judiciary can only be established when its independence is demonstrated beyond doubt. It is crucial that Hong Kong's legal system retains its autonomy. Politicisation would seriously damage one of the main planks of the territory's reputation. The Court of Final Appeal needs to command the absolute trust and confidence of the community, as well as of international opinion. That must be established for the sake of Hong Kong's future.