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Hong Kong courts

Tony Blair’s brother serves as judge at Hong Kong High Court

No word yet on whether judiciary intends to extend the stay of William Blair, an expert in banking and finance law

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 15 April, 2018, 8:01am
UPDATED : Sunday, 15 April, 2018, 8:01am

The older brother of former British prime minister Tony Blair has been appointed as a deputy judge at Hong Kong’s High Court for two months, handling commercial legal disputes.

It is the first time William Blair, 68 and a former British High Court judge, has joined the city’s bench, and he could be reappointed after his two-month term ends later this month.

Approached for an interview, the leading expert in banking and finance law referred the Post to the judiciary.

So far during his time in Hong Kong, Blair has handled commercial disputes. He previously sat on Britain's High Court and London’s commercial court, and was the president of the appeal board of the European Supervisory Authorities, which oversees banking and securities regulation in the European Union.

He was the first chairman of Qatar Financial Centre Regulatory Tribunal.

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He is a visiting professor at Peking University in Beijing and East China University of Political Science and Law in Shanghai, where he has led at least two delegations to Beijing and Qianhai, Guangdong province, since 2016.

The Blair brothers both studied law as undergraduates at Oxford University and both practised as barristers. The younger brother later became leader of the British Labour Party and prime minister. 

As a common law jurisdiction, Hong Kong can invite judges and lawyers from other common law regions to serve on the bench. Baroness Brenda Hale and Beverley McLachlin, judges formerly of the British and Canadian supreme courts respectively, were recently appointed to the Court of Final Appeal. 

A judiciary spokesman said that for any appointment, “the chief justice takes the view that it is of the utmost importance that the judiciary will continue to maintain the highest standards that the public expects“.

According to the judiciary, external High Court deputy judges are paid HK$11,100 (US$1,400) per day, without other fringe benefits, meaning a deputy judge will get HK$222,000 for working for 20 days in a month. 

The judiciary spokesman said the payment was “comparable to the salary level of a judge of the Court of First Instance or the High Court”. 

Former director of public prosecutions Keith Yeung Ka-hung, who stepped down from his post in March last year, was appointed deputy judge for three months in January and will have his term renewed for another three months to June.  

The judiciary would not comment whether Blair and Yeung would serve beyond their current terms.