PLC Paper No. LS 98

Paper for the House Committee Meeting
of the Provisional Legislative Council
on 13 February 1998

Legal Service Division Report on
Adaptation of Laws (References to Foreign Country, etc.) Bill

Object of the Bill

To make amendments to references to foreign country and other related expressions in specific ordinances to ensure conformity with the Basic Law and with the status of Hong Kong as a Special Administrative Region of the People Republic of China.

PLC Brief Reference

2.PLC Brief CAB L9/3/7 issued by the Constitutional Affairs Bureau and dated 26 January 1998, supplemented by PLC Brief on Adaptation of Laws General Approach (CAB L9/3) issued by the same Bureau and dated the same.

Date of First Reading

3.11 February 1998.


4.On 23 February 1997, the Standing Committee of the National People Congress decides, among other things, that uch of the laws previously in force in Hong Kong which have been adopted as the laws of the HKSAR shall, as from 1 July 1997, be applied subject to such modifications, adaptations, limitations and exceptions as are necessary so as to bring them into conformity with the status of Hong Kong after resumption by the PRC of the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong as well as to be in conformity with the relevant provisions of the Basic Law�

5.Further to that decision, the Committee also decides that �.. names, terms and expressions appearing in the laws previously in force in Hong Kong that are adopted as the laws of the HKSAR shall, unless the context otherwise requires, be construed or applied in accordance with the principles of substitution provided for in Annex 3 to this Decision� One of these principles is that n the case of any provision in which any reference is made to 㣃oreign state�or 㣃oreign country�or similar terms or expressions, those terms or expressions shall be construed as a reference to any country or territory other than the People Republic of China, or as a reference to 鬭ny place other than the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region�.

6.These decisions have been implemented through local legislation after 1 July 1997 in the form of the Hong Kong Reunification Ordinance. However, the adaptation of the references to oreign country�and other related expressions, like other legislative provisions requiring adaptation, has so far been achieved only by the use of statutory rules of construction made applicable generally to existing legislation.

7.The Bill now seeks to customise the adaptation of such expressions in accordance with their usage in individual ordinances by appropriate textual amendments. The common effect of the amendments is to clarify that oreign�would mean 㺸ther than PRC�or 㺸ther than the HKSAR�depending on context. The guiding principles for their adaptation (i.e. to ensure conformity with the Basic Law and with the status of Hong Kong as a Special Administrative Region of the PRC) and the way in which they are adapted are therefore the same as those already reflected in the Reunification Ordinance. The amendments as such are essentially technical drafting changes to individual ordinances.

8.Members may also wish to note that -

  1. a small number of ordinances will not be covered by this particular adaptation exercise because they will either be subject to comprehensive review or repeal shortly (para. 4 of the PLC Brief on the Bill); and

  2. the Bill, if passed, will take retrospective effect from 1 July 1997 but it is specifically provided that no retrospective criminal liability should thereby arise.

Public Consultation

9.According to the PLC Brief on the Bill, the Administration considers that public consultation is not necessary.

Consultation with Panel

10.No prior consultation with any Panel has been conducted but the House Committee and the Panel on Administration of Justice and Legal Service has been informed in advance of the proposed introduction of such legislation and of its progress from time to time.


11.It is recommended that resumption of the second reading debate of the Bill be supported, subject to any views that Members may have.

12.The drafting of the Bill appears to be in order but owing to the large number of amendments involved, further opportunity is being taken in the meantime to go through them again to ensure that there are no technical problems.

Prepared by

CHEUNG Ping-kam, Arthur
Assistant Legal Adviser
Provisional Legislative Council Secretariat
10 February 1998