Legislator 'Long Hair' Leung Kwok-hung will not have to pay legal costs incurred by the government defending his challenge to the way in which the controversial covert surveillance law was passed. Mr Leung had disputed Legislative Council president Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai's decision to block debate on proposed amendments to the covert surveillance bill. Mrs Fan had deemed those amendments as having a charging effect on government accounts, spurring Mr Leung to challenge the constitutional validity of the rule under which Mrs Fan made the decision. Despite dismissing the judicial review in January, Mr Justice Michael Hartmann ruled in the Court of First Instance yesterday that the issue was nevertheless of public importance and that the respective parties should cover their own costs. 'Public law litigation, by its nature, may from time to time be concerned not with the private gain of the litigant, but with seeking clarification of the law in respect of a matter of public importance, the essential purpose ... being the furtherance of the interests of society at large.' Mr Leung said the minor victory encouraged him to consider appealing against the original ruling since the court had shown it believed the issue to be of public interest. 'Also, now I am not bankrupt so I have the option of continuing with the case,' he said. 'I am inclined to appeal, but I will have to discuss it with my lawyers first.' In the judgment, Mr Justice Hartmann noted that the costs incurred by governments in such cases had been recognised as 'incidental to good administration'. 'These proceedings have gone a long way to resolving differences in interpretation of the Basic Law going to a profoundly important aspect of the legislative process, namely, whether there are constitutional limitations placed on Legco members in proposing amendments to bills.' Mr Leung said he was particularly happy the judge recognised he was doing what was expected of him as a legislator.