Ten years ago today, Hong Kong's top court delivered landmark judgments on the right of abode that were of immense significance. They prompted a constitutional crisis and led to core findings of the court effectively being overturned by the National People's Congress Standing Committee. These were dramatic events, taking place as Hong Kong was still getting to grips with the 'one country, two systems' concept. The 10th anniversary provides an opportunity to reflect on the judgments and all that has happened since they were delivered. Right of abode applications by mainland-born children with at least one parent who was a permanent resident arose as a direct result of the handover. They claimed a right provided by the Basic Law, which came into force when Hong Kong returned to China. The case gave rise to difficult issues that would ideally have been left until Hong Kong had become more accustomed to the new constitutional framework. When the Court of Final Appeal delivered its rulings, only 19 months had passed since the handover. There remained many uncertainties about how the new arrangements would work. It is understandable, in the circumstances, that the judges wanted to remove doubts that had been raised as the cases worked their way through the lower courts. Their rulings in favour of abode seekers provided much-needed reassurance about the protection of human rights, the independence of the judiciary and Hong Kong's 'high degree of autonomy'. Sadly, they also caused much controversy. Fears were raised about a mass influx of mainland migrants. And mainland legal experts attacked the court for daring to assert the right to declare acts of the NPC to be invalid. The result was the reinterpretation by Beijing of the Basic Law provisions involved. That decision was later upheld by the courts. Not surprisingly, a perception was created that the judges had bowed to pressure. This damaged confidence in Hong Kong's rule of law and independent judiciary. Thankfully, the more extreme fears expressed at that time about the impact on the legal system have not been realised. The courts have continued to rule on cases involving the Basic Law without any interference from Beijing. There have, though, been two further interpretations not related to court proceedings, concerning political reform and the length of Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen's first term. There is no doubt that the Standing Committee has the power to make such decisions. But each time this is done, it causes controversy and hits confidence in Hong Kong's separate system. The government's pledge that future interpretations will be sought only in exceptional circumstances is, therefore, welcome. There is a need to strive for alternative solutions to problems. Judicial independence must be upheld. In the time that has passed since the landmark judgments, Hong Kong and the mainland have changed. There is now more integration and greater confidence in the constitutional arrangements governing the relationship. This will, however, come as little comfort to the abode seekers whose hopes were dashed and families split as a result of the reinterpretation. Many are still in hiding in Hong Kong. The government should take a fresh look at the claims of those still fighting for the right of abode, to see whether discretion can be exercised to allow them to stay. This was a painful chapter in Hong Kong's post-handover history. Hopefully the lessons learned will prevent anything like it from happening again.