Judiciary ‘planning role for members of public to probe complaints on judges’

Judiciary planning role for members of public to probe complaints on judges

Members of the Hong Kong public may get a say in handling complaints about judges, under a proposal by the judiciary to set up an advisory board headed by the chief justice, local media has reported.

The judiciary would submit its recommendations to the legislature on how to improve a complaint mechanism that processed judicial conduct, with a two-tier system in the works, Citizen News reported on Friday.

The submission will be in time for discussion at a May 14 meeting of the Legislative Council’s panel on administration of justice and legal services.

Under the proposal, a complaint against a jurist that was deemed to warrant further scrutiny would trigger the formation of an investigation committee led by a High Court judge, which would file an investigation report to the advisory board, Citizens News said. Serious and complicated cases, or those of widespread public concern, might face more than one High Court judge in the committee, it added.

The jurist who is the subject of the complaint will have the chance to respond if the criticism is seen as substantiated from the committee’s initial point of view.

Advisers on the board are to be led by the chief justice of the Court of Final Appeal and will include other judges and members of the public, according to Citizen News. It will review the committee’s report and provide suggestions, while the final decision on follow-up action will come from the chief justice. The result will be publicized online.

Johannes Chan, chair professor of law and former dean of the law faculty at the University of Hong Kong, recommended appointing people who were familiar with legal procedures to the committee, so that the chief justice would need to give very good reasons to reject the opinions of these members of the public.

Chan said that it would be even better to nominate one representative each from the Bar Association and the Law Society, the respective governing bodies of barristers and solicitors in Hong Kong.

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