Legislative Council oath-taking saga

Hong Kong appeal court rejects Youngspiration duo’s bid to be reinstated to Legco

Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching may apply to city’s top court for permission to pursue case

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 January, 2017, 10:29am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 January, 2017, 1:04pm

An appeal court has rejected a last-ditch bid by two Hong Kong pro-independence activists to have their Legislative Council seats reinstated after they were ousted during the oath-taking saga.

Youngspiration pair Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching, who are expected to face legal bills and related claims totalling more than HK$6 million, said on Monday they might apply for permission to pursue their case at the Court of Final Appeal.

The duo are seeking to challenge previous rulings against them at the city’s top court. If an application for leave to appeal is refused by the Court of Appeal, an application may be made to the Court of Final Appeal for such permission.

Baggio Leung said outside court: “We have new grounds.”

Baggio Leung and Yau were disqualified by the Court of First Instance after the government filed a legal bid over their anti-Beijing antics during the Legco swearing-in ceremony in October.

Their case prompted Beijing’s National People’s Congress Standing Committee to issue a controversial interpretation of the Basic Law ahead of the court ruling, stating that lawmakers should be sworn in properly, and be given only one chance to do so.

The former legislators-elect, who also lost their case in an appeal court, previously mounted their final legal challenge on the grounds that their case involved questions of “great general or public importance”.

They also argued that Beijing’s interpretation of Hong Kong’s Basic Law amounted to an “amendment” without complying with the prescribed procedure and that Hong Kong courts had a duty to declare the interpretation to be invalid.

But Court of Appeal judge Mr Justice Jeremy Poon Shiu-chor wrote in the latest judgment that the duo had failed to pass the “great general or public importance” threshold meriting permission to be given for them to appeal to the Court of Final Appeal.

Hong Kong legal heavyweights warn against Beijing interpretations of Basic Law

Poon also asserted that the authority of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee to interpret the Basic Law – Hong Kong’s constitution – was “fully” acknowledged and respected by the courts of Hong Kong.

The Court of Appeal ordered Baggio Leung and Yau to pay the chief executive and the secretary for justice – the winning parties – a total of HK$335,702 in legal costs.

The duo had already been ordered to foot a large portion of the legal bills of other parties involved in the preceding lawsuits.

On top of legal fees expected to reach HK$5 million, the two face claims by Legco for the return of a total of HK$1.86 million in advance salaries and costs.

The two have so far raised HK$550,000.

Legco president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen said the council’s commission had decided to take legal action to recover the money.

“The commission will commence the recovery action in court after the conclusion of the Court of Final Appeal legal proceedings,” Leung said on Monday.

Additional reporting by Naomi Ng