【文章】法官必須慎言

2020-04-27 | 信報財經新聞
A14 | 時事評論 | 專業議政

上周,區域法院法官郭偉健在裁決一名男子去年在將軍澳用刀斬傷3名和平留守在連儂隧道的市民時,花了三分之一篇幅來評論反對《逃犯條例》的社會運動,引起嘩然。

法官的言行,不論在法庭內外,都會受到公眾關注。是以,所有法官都必須熟悉和遵守的《法官行為指引》第19段即指出「法庭要秉行公義,而且必須是有目共睹的。法官除了需要事實上做到不偏不倚之外,還要讓外界相信法官是不偏不倚的。如果有理由令人覺得法官存有偏私,這樣很可能使人感到不公平和受屈,更會令外界對司法判決失去信心」。此外,第21段指出可以令外界感到法官不公正的其中一個因素,是法官在法庭上的言行舉止。

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【文章】法官再次敲響的警報

2020-04-17 | 信報財經新聞
A14 | 時事評論 | 專業議政

繼去年反送中運動期間,有香港法官破天荒接受外國傳媒路透訪問,表達對修訂《逃犯條例》的憂慮,擔心香港的司法獨立受損後,日前有資深法官再次透過路透向香港社會發出更危急的警報:香港的司法獨立正受北京領導層攻擊,是自回歸以來對法治的最大威脅,司法獨立作為香港的自由基石,正在為生存而戰。

市民應提高警覺抵禦干預

受訪法官表示,中央政府正試圖「多管齊下」打擊香港的司法制度,以及限制香港法院對核心憲法事務裁決的權力。有接近終審法院首席法官馬道立的人說,馬道立要抗衡共產黨官員視法治為必須維護中共「一黨專政」的工具。他們擔心中央政府會失去耐性而收緊管制,若終審法院的法官任命過程出現干預,可能觸發法官辭職。

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Dennis Kwok eNewsletter APR 2020

8th April 2020
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
Some further updates on what we have been doing.
  • Working together with practitioners and the Judiciary to find technological solutions to the GAP. I have written to the Judiciary Administrator and the CJHC to push for progress on this front. A list of technological proposals has been prepared for the Judiciary to consider. At the Special Finance Committee meeting on 7th April, I requested the Judiciary Administrator to announce the Phase 2 Videoconferencing specifications ASAP.
FYI – LegCo approved $680 million for the Judiciary IT plans in 2013. Resources should not be an issue.
  • Working with the two professional bodies to find ways of providing financial relief and support to members. Some of them have already been announced. I have asked the Administration to include professionals in the next round of Anti-epidemic Fund.
  • In particular, I have asked the Law Society President to consider waiving or substantially reducing the professional insurance premium for 2020. I understand this is being actively considered by the LS Council.
Stay safe, and if you have any questions please email my LegCo office. Thank you.
Yours Sincerely,
Dennis Kwok
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【文章】破壞法治者如何推廣法治?

2020-03-13 | 信報財經新聞
A14 | 時事評論 | 專業議政

財政司司長陳茂波的《財政預算案》,在發表之前市民最關心的是會不會「派一萬元」;發表之後,多了兩個「亮點」,就是大幅增加對警隊的撥款,以及撥款4.5億元予律政司,推行一個名為「願景2030──聚焦法治」的計劃。

光看名稱實在不知道這個計劃的目的和內容是什麼,只得翻開財政司的演詞揣摩一下,只有寥寥的數十字這樣說:尊重法治、司法獨立,是香港賴以成功的基石之一。我會預留約4.5億元,讓律政司推行「願景2030──聚焦法治」計劃,加深香港社會對法治概念的認識及實踐。

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【文章】立會過半 改革之始 功能組別 成事關鍵

2020-03-02 | 明報
B4 | 觀點

要推動政治變革,有兩個方法:制度之外的社會運動和制度之內的政治空間。近日民間推動支持民主的市民積極參與立法會的功能組別選舉,期望民主派能夠取得過半數議席,繼而在下年的選舉委員會也取得過半數席位,推舉一位民主派的行政長官候選人。這個正是在制度之內,盡量爭取政治空間去推動行政長官和立法會雙普選,以及改善政府施政的最可行辦法。

香港現時的政制雖然不民主,但法律設下的框架,理論上是一條可以落實行政長官和立法會雙普選的門路。此外,立法會的立法權力雖然備受限制,但要否決政府的惡法和劣政,只需簡單多數票就可以。所以,比起制度上的局限,缺乏足夠的民主派議員,才是民主改革不興、惡法劣政難擋的最重要原因。

立法會和選委會必須有超過一半的民主派議席,才有機會帶來真正的改變。

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Dennis Kwok eNewsletter MAR 2020

23rd March 2020

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

 

Further Court Adjournments

 

Many of us are seriously affected by this second General Adjournment Period (GAP). Public health and safety are paramount, however, the late notification and the lack of alternative plans to use technological solutions are both disappointing. Following the 1st GAP, I have raised all these issues with the Judiciary Administrator, however, there has been no progress. This crisis highlights the urgent need for judicial technological reform which I have been calling for in the past 8 years, many of which do not require legislative change. The Judiciary (similar to LegCo) should have its own independent secretariat support instead of relying on civil servants.

 

In a meeting two weeks ago, I have asked the Chief Secretary to further expand the $80,000 assistant scheme to professionals.

 

I have also contacted both the Bar Council and the Law Society to ask them to consider implementing the following policies:

 

(I) immediately waive and/or refund the practising certificates fees for 2020/2021

 

(II) the Law Society should waive all insurance premiums for 2020/2021 given that the indemnity scheme is in a healthy financial state

 

(III) the Bar and the Law Society should consider giving financial assistance to junior barristers under 5 years’ call and small and medium firms respectively

 

I have asked the Legal Aid Department to immediately settle all outstanding fees owed to solicitors firms and counsel.

 

Stay safe and I shall keep you posted of developments.

 

Yours Sincerely,

Dennis Kwok

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