Kemal Bokhary
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Laughter lightens load at unprecedented legal lobbying

A burst of spontaneous laughter in court perhaps best summed up what was undoubtedly one of the most bizarre hearings in Hong Kong's legal history.

It came as distinguished lawyer Geoffrey Ma SC sought to explain how the Government thought the judges might clarify their ruling for the benefit of those who did not understand it.

His first suggestion met with a puzzled response from the Chief Justice: 'Isn't that what is said on page five of the judgment?' Mr Ma was not to be deterred by the chuckles which emanated from the massed ranks of the legal community, crammed into the small court.

'It may be argued this is what the judgment says anyway,' he conceded. 'It may cause laughter . . .' he added, indignantly.

The Chief Justice seemed to be enjoying the fun. 'We could do with a bit of light relief,' he said.

A bid by Clive Grossman SC to address the court on behalf of the Bar Association also brought some humour.

He took exception to a suggestion from Mr Justice Henry Litton that the association he represented amounted to a small part of a functional constituency.

'I am unhappy with the words functional constituency. It could have some political association,' Mr Grossman said.

Laughter returned when Mr Justice Kemal Bokhary suggested that if the Bar Association was allowed to join in, he would have to declare an interest as he is a member.

After addressing the court for several minutes, Mr Grossman was refused permission to address it.