Hong Kong Basic Law

Hong Kong Bar Association happy to revive Peking University course, but only if last-minute changes are off the table

PUBLISHED : Monday, 10 September, 2018, 7:01am
UPDATED : Monday, 10 September, 2018, 7:01am

I refer to your editorial, “Exchanges between the two legal systems must be encouraged” (September 5).

It is, with respect, self-evident that exchanges of this kind should be encouraged. The Hong Kong Bar Association has been doing this for many years. The common law course at Peking University is just one of the courses that the Bar Association has delivered and funded since the need for such exchanges was recognised by it many years ago.

The Bar Association would be pleased to revive the Peking University course, but it can only do so if it receives assurances that its settled plans for teaching the course would not be upset at the last moment with no explanation offered (“Peking University bars two Hong Kong human rights lawyers from teaching regular course”, August 27).

In this connection, it is worth emphasising that no objection was made to the content of the particular course to be taught, only the teachers. They had taught the course in previous years. There had been no complaints about course content or their teaching in that time.

As for my planned trip to Peking University in early June, all there is to say about that is that the Bar Association secretariat went to great lengths to secure a written invitation from Peking University for me to attend the closing sessions for visa purposes.

No satisfactory explanation has been given on why it was necessary to cancel the closing ceremony this year.

Finally, as for the decision to suspend the course, it is wrong to suppose that I made the decision. The Chairman of the Bar could not make a decision like this by himself. The Bar Council, comprising some 25 elected and co-opted members, made it. The Bar Council also made a decision not to suspend another course the Bar Association runs at Peking University, which deals with the law of arbitration.

Philip Dykes, S.C., chairman, Hong Kong Bar Association