This is an abridged version of the speech that Mr Justice Gerald Godfrey made yesterday morning to mark his last appearance in court before his retirement. The mention of 'Patrick' is understood to be a reference to Chief Judge Patrick Chan Siu-oi. 'I did intend today to deliver a hard-hitting and forthright speech, critical of the state of justice in Hong Kong. But I was attended in my chambers at 9 o'clock this morning by an unidentified party, whose name I cannot remember, who expressed to me some concern - if I did not misunderstand him - on the part of the Chief Justice [Andrew Li Kwok-nang], that if I were to make any controversial remarks, that would not be good for the reputation of the justice system in Hong Kong. 'I was initially angry about this. I said to the unidentified party: 'Now listen here Patrick' - oh I am sorry, I made a mistake, I mean the unidentified person - 'this is an attack upon my judicial freedom.' He pointed out, of course, that it was nothing of the sort. He was quite right about that. He did say to me that if I wanted to improve my chances of being awarded the GBH [Grand Bauhinia Honour] or to be appointed to the distinguished rank of the non-permanent judges of the CFA [Court of Final Appeal], I might find it better to refrain from making such a speech. So, I succumb to the pressure. I will not make such a speech - until tomorrow. 'I do have one theme. That is to say thank you . . . I am grateful to those authors who gave me an interest in the Orient when I was a schoolboy and fuelled me with an enthusiasm one day to travel to the Far East. 'I have to say thank you to two distinguished members of the Bar, Martin Lee [Chu-ming] and Robert Tang. They are responsible for suggesting to me I might accept an appointment here as a judge. I had complained about the lack of expertise of the then judiciary of Hong Kong - now, of course, it is much better - in chancery matters. 'They gave me a very fair response. They said if you feel like that, Gerald, why don't you come. I went back and explained to my dear wife Anne, and when she stopped hitting me and laughing and saying there was no question, we came for three years and stayed for over 13. 'I am grateful to [former] chief justice Yang [Ti Liang] who, though perhaps spitting blood through clenched teeth, eventually promoted me to the Court of Appeal. I have sat with some very nice people. It relieved me from the loneliness you sometimes feel as a judge sitting on your own. 'I am grateful to Chief Justice Li who, shortly before I was to leave these shores, did give me the title of Vice-President of the Court of Appeal. That did no more, I think, than enable me to go on doing the job I had already been doing for several months in any case. At least I can put it on my CV . . . maybe there will be an inquiry or something. 'I am grateful to the Secretary for Justice [Elsie Leung Oi-sie]. I want to say to her, never mind Martin Lee, never mind Margaret Ng [Ngoi-yee], never mind Emily [Lau Wai-hing]. No one has done more to instil a sense of awareness in the public of Hong Kong of the importance of the rule of law than the Secretary for Justice. She has done it in some unexpected ways, but she has, nevertheless, done it. 'I would like to leave the Bar with this thought: that even if it does have to contract in size to meet modern conditions, if it can maintain its closely knit [composition] . . . it will help to keep its separate identity. 'I am grateful to the solicitors of Hong Kong. I know in some ways I have been critical of them. I would like to make a remark which might perhaps seem critical. The Law Society is a strange animal. I would feel open to criticism for using these words but for the fact they appear in an article in the July issue of Hong Kong Lawyer, written by no less than [Law Society President] Herbert Tsoi [Hak-kwong]. 'The words 'strange animal' remind me of . . . a push-me pull-you, with two heads on either end. I thought to myself at one end is the desire of the Law Society, perfectly creditable, to protect its members' interests. At other end is the desire of the society to protect the interests of the public. 'The trouble with a push-me pull-you is that it is very difficult [for the two heads to pull in the same direction]. I hope it will resolve that. I know . . . it will try very hard. 'I hope to make some visits to Hong Kong. I hope when I come back, the standards of litigation will have improved somewhat.'