The national security law continues to draw concern from local and overseas legal communities – and understandably so. The provisions are unfamiliar to lawyers and judges of the common law system, and the lack of precedent for the judiciary to directly administer a law imposed by Beijing is another worry. While authorities on both sides of the border have repeatedly stressed that the city’s rule of law and judicial independence will not be compromised, it is imperative that such principles are fully preserved. The latest to weigh in is Robert Reed, president of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, also an overseas non-permanent judge of Hong Kong’s Court of Final Appeal. He said some provisions in the new law had given rise to concern, but stopped short of being specific. “Whether judges of the [UK] Supreme Court can continue to serve as judges in Hong Kong will depend on whether such service remains compatible with judicial independence and the rule of law,” he said. His remarks are seen as a subtle warning that the judiciary may lose foreign talent of the highest order if judges cannot rule independently under the new law. Foreign judges are not expressly banned by the law, which gives Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor new powers to appoint a pool of judges at different levels for national security cases. Whether non-Chinese will be included remains to be seen, and the ultimate test is in the implementation. The effect of the law, as Reed made clear, will depend upon how it is applied in practice, and it is therefore premature to jump to a conclusion at this stage. Britain suspends Hong Kong extradition treaty over national security law Until freedoms and judicial independence are shown to be intact, members of the public and judges may remain uncomfortable with the new law. But the latter must strive to stay above politics and apply the law independently, without fear or favour. The same applies to talent drafted from overseas. Their opinions on the implementation of the new law shall have direct impact on the international perception of the city’s rule of law. Views that are based on facts and the actual operation of the judiciary will help clear the air. Earlier, Canada’s former chief justice, Beverley McLachlin, faced calls from Canadian politicians to stop serving as a non-permanent judge here. It is important that such countries keep their faith in Hong Kong because overseas judges are all experienced and highly respected. They provide a different perspective and keep us in touch with the common law world. It will be a huge blow to the reputation of our judicial system if we fail to keep them. Further reassurance is needed regarding judicial independence and the rule of law to uphold the integrity of the city’s judicial system, without which confidence in “one country, two systems” will suffer.