Chief Judge of the High Court of Hong Kong
The Chief Judge of the High Court of Hong Kong (CJHC) is the head of the High Court of Hong Kong and the President of the Court of Appeal of Hong Kong. In the Hong Kong order of precedence, the Chief Judge acts as the second most senior administrative judge for the courts system, second only to the Chief Justice of the Court of Final Appeal of Hong Kong; the position is the broad equivalent of the Master of the Rolls in the courts system of England and Wales.
|Chief Judge of the High Court of Hong Kong|
|Appointer||Chief Executive of Hong Kong with endorsement by the Legislative Council|
|Term length||Life tenure (until statutory retirement at age 70, but may be extended by 5 years until age 75)|
|Inaugural holder||Patrick Chan Siu-oi, 1997|
|Formation||Hong Kong Basic Law|
1 July 1997
|Chief Judge of the High Court of Hong Kong|
Politics and government|
of Hong Kong
|Related topics Hong Kong portal|
Jeremy Poon is the 5th and current Chief Judge of the High Court of Hong Kong, having taken up the post in December 2019.
The Chief Judge heads the High Court of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (Chinese: 香港特別行政區高等法院), which deals with criminal and civil cases that have risen beyond the lower courts. While the High Court consists of the Court of Appeal and the Court of First Instance, the Chief Judge himself generally only presides over appellate cases in the Court of Appeal, usually together with two other Justices of Appeal. The Chief Judge also sits alone in the Court of First Instance to hear contested applications for the ad hoc admission of overseas counsel to the Hong Kong Bar.
In accordance with the Basic Law, the Chief Judge is appointed by the Chief Executive based on the recommendation of the Judicial Officers Recommendation Commission (JORC), and made official after receiving approval from the Legislative Council.
Duties of the Chief Judge
The Chief Judge is the Court Leader of the High Court and the President of the Court of Appeal, and is responsible for ensuring the 'efficient utilisation of judicial resources and court time, for advising the Chief Justice on matters of policy concerning the operation and development of the High Court'.
From a judicial stand point, the role of the Chief Judge is equivalent to a Justice of Appeal, but comes with significant administrative responsibilities. This may lead to justices turning down the appointment; for example, after Andrew Cheung's promotion to the Court of Final Appeal, it was reported that the Chief Justice originally asked Johnson Lam to be Chief Judge. However, citing the increase in administrative responsibilities, he turned down this role, which ultimately went to Jeremy Poon. Geoffrey Ma, when he was Chief Judge, stated that he spent "less than 50% of his time in court" as most of his time was consumed over administrative issues.
The Chief Judge has the power to admit barristers and solicitors and for implementing Civil Justice Reform. Given the experience of balancing hearing appeals and administrative responsibilities, they are often seen as prime candidates for elevation to the role of Chief Justice.
Acting Chief Judge
During a period of absence, an Acting Chief Judge of the High Court (Chinese: 高等法院署理首席法官) is appointed 'until the vacancy therein is filled'. In general, a Vice-President of the Court of Appeal is appointed as Acting Chief Judge of the High Court, while a Justice of Appeal may also be appointed during this period if necessary.
Chief Judges of the High Court
For pre-1997 Chief Justices (equivalent to the present day Chief Judge), see Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Hong Kong
- High Court of Hong Kong
- Court of Appeal of Hong Kong
- Court of First Instance of Hong Kong
- Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Hong Kong
- Vice-Presidents of the Court of Appeal of Hong Kong
- Court of Final Appeal (Hong Kong)
- Chief Justice of the Court of Final Appeal of Hong Kong
- Legal system of Hong Kong
- "Department of Justice: Bilingual Laws Information System". www.legislation.gov.hk. Archived from the original on 16 October 2012. Retrieved 16 October 2016.
- "Appointment of the Chief Judge of the High Court". www.info.gov.hk.
- "About Us - List of Judges and Judicial Officers". www.judiciary.gov.hk. Archived from the original on 23 January 2010. Retrieved 16 October 2016.
- For example, Re Paul Girolami QC, HCMP 3567/2016, reported at  1 HKLRD 1226
- "Bar Association fights appointment of British lawyer in Kwoks case".
- "Judicial Officers Recommendation Commissions Report 1997-2002" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 October 2010.
- "Andrew Cheung named as new chief judge".
- "Alumnus profile: The Hon Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma". University of Birmingham.
- High Court Ordinance (Cap. 4), Section 8
- "G.N.8071" Hong Kong Government Gazette (No. 43 Vol. 22, 26 October 2018)
- "Top judges cleared for appointment to Court of Final Appeal and High Court respectively". Government of Hong Kong. Archived from the original on 8 March 2020. Retrieved 8 March 2020.
The office of CJHC became vacant on October 25, 2018 when the Honourable Mr Justice Andrew Cheung Kui-nung, who was the CJHC immediately prior to that date, assumed office as PJ of the CFA and vacated the office of CJHC on the same date. To meet essential operational needs, the Honourable Mr Justice Wally Yeung Chun-kuen, Vice-President and Justice of Appeal of the Court of Appeal of the High Court, acted in the office of CJHC for the period from October 25, 2018 to July 31, 2019. With effect from August 1, 2019, Mr Justice Poon, Justice of Appeal of the Court of Appeal of the High Court, has been acting in the office of CJHC until the CJHC vacancy is substantively filled.
- For example, HKSAR v Chan Chun Man, CACC 216/2017