Chief Justice Andrew Li Kwok-nang said yesterday he did not believe justice was administered with bias, as questions were still being asked about speculation that the niece of a top judge had received preferential treatment after she assaulted a police officer. Li, 61, was speaking at his last press conference at the Court of Final Appeal before stepping down from his post as the city's first top judge after the handover. He enters pre-retirement leave on Wednesday, the same day his successor, current Chief Judge of the High Court, Mr Justice Geoffrey Ma Tao-li, takes over as chief justice. Concerns were raised after a magistrate this month gave Amina Mariam Bokhary, niece of Court of Final Appeal judge Mr Justice Kemal Bokhary, a non-custodial term for her third conviction for assaulting a police officer. Magistrate Anthony Yuen Wai-ming placed her on probation for one year. When prosecutors requested he review the sentence, he refused. They are now appealing to a higher court. Speaking generally and not specifically in relation to Amina Bokhary, Li said yesterday: 'I do not accept at all that justice is administered in Hong Kong with social bias or any bias. Judges are deeply conscious of the important responsibility resting on their shoulders to do justice according to law, to do justice without fear or favour, and that they must do justice fairly and impartially.' He acknowledged concern about Bokhary's case, but said that because the secretary for justice had applied for a review at the Court of Appeal, it would be inappropriate for him to comment. Li announced he would step down ahead of the retirement age of 65 last August, surprising many in the legal community. He said he was leaving to achieve 'orderly succession planning' and he believed it would be appropriate for the new chief justice to deal with the succession planning rather than an outgoing chief justice. Li, who has been credited with maintaining confidence in Hong Kong's judicial system since the handover, presided during the first years of the Basic Law and the Court of Final Appeal, which replaced the Privy Council as the court of final adjudication. In addition to the development of the judicial and legal system in Hong Kong, Li spoke yesterday about the situation on the mainland. He said the legal and judicial system there had seen 'remarkable development' over the past 13 years. The judge, who has spoken out in support of increasing access to justice, reiterated the call. He said there needed to be an increase in legal aid, encouragement of pro bono services by the legal profession, the provision of the appropriate legal assistance to unrepresented litigants and the promotion of mediation. Attracting talent to courts at all levels was very important, he said, adding remarkable progress had been made on this front. Looking back on the cases he has tackled over his tenure, he said, the case of Ng Ka-ling, involving the issue of the right to abode, was the most interesting and challenging for him. 'It was the most memorable case because it was the first case ever involving the Basic Law to reach the Court of Final Appeal.' A lot of legal literature had been written about it since, he said. As he steps down and Ma fills his position, there is still no public indication of who will replace Ma as Chief Judge of the High Court. Li said the next chief judge would not be announced before next month.