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Hong Kong courts

What Hong Kong can learn from the Russians on reacting to court rulings

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 23 September, 2018, 2:00pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 23 September, 2018, 2:00pm

Merely because judges may be criticised from many directions does not necessarily mean they are “doing something right” (“Agree or not, respect the decisions of judges”, September 12). Respect for the rule of law is not inevitably coextensive with judges’ decisions. Judges being human and fallible, there is such a thing as bad law. In such cases, “respect” means “compliance with the law as it is for now”, not respect for the integrity of the decision.

Judges should make honest and impartial decisions. Judgments have to be legally motivated and governed by the facts and relevant law, not the judge’s personal views.

The universal human right that justice be done and seen to be done entitles every citizen to criticise judges’ decisions as gently or bluntly as the circumstances fairly warrant. In a democracy (government by and for the people) there is an inherent civic responsibility to do so. A special duty to undertake critical analysis of judicial behaviour belongs to responsible judges, lawyers, legal academics and journalists.

Hong Kong’s rule of law is riddled with loopholes and arbitrary application

Recasting the law in a radically innovative way renders it uncertain, unpredictable and the antithesis of the rule of law. It is very tough on the party who lost because the goalposts were moved during the litigation.

Given their unique power over lives, the task of judges to ensure the integrity of verdicts is too important to social justice and harmony for uncritical public trust to be acceptable. The attitude of the people should be the Russian proverb: “Trust, but verify”.

Michael Scott, Tsim Sha Tsui