PLC Paper No. LS 80

Paper for the House Committee Meeting
of the Provisional Legislative Council on 23 January 1998

Legal Service Division Report on
Hong Kong Bill of Rights (Amendment) Bill 1998

Object of the Bill

To amend the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance (Cap. 383) ("the principal Ordinance") by repealing section 3(3) and (4) which were added by the Hong Kong Bill of Rights (Amendment) Ordinance 1997 (107 of 1997) ("the Amendment Ordinance").

Provisional LegCo Brief Reference

2. HAB/CR/1/34/1 Pt. 60 of 15 January 1998 from Home Affairs Bureau.

Date of First Reading

3. 21 January 1998.


4. Members will recall that in July 1997, the Legislative Provisions (Suspension of Operation) Ordinance 1997 (126 of 1997) ("the Ordinance") was enacted suspending, among other things, the operation of the amendments made by the Amendment Ordinance. Those amendments seek to clarify that the principal Ordinance applies to all legislation, whether affecting legal relations between the Government, public authorities and private persons or only affecting relations between private persons.

5. Under the Ordinance as enacted, the suspension will cease to have effect on 31 October 1997 unless it is extended by resolution of the Council. At the meeting of the Council on 29 October 1997, the Administration sought and the Council approved to extend the period of suspension to 31 January 1998. At the meeting of the Council to be held on 21 January 1998, the Administration will seek the Council’s further approval to extend the period of extension to 28 February 1998.

6. The Administration now proposes to repeal section 3(3) and (4) of the principal Ordinance which were added by the Amendment Ordinance. Members may refer to paragraphs 11-17 of the PLC Brief for the grounds on which the Administration proposes to repeal those provisions.

7. There is no provision in the Bill which provides retrospective effect for the proposed repeal of section 3(3) and (4). This would mean that substantive effect, if any, of section 3(3) and (4) from 30 June 1997 to 17 July 1997 would not be affected and would be left to the Court for determination should there be a case where these provisions are in issue.

Public Consultation

8. In response to the Administration’s consultation, the Hong Kong Bar Association has submitted that they considered that there is no need to amend or repeal the Amendment Ordinance. Their correspondence with the Administration is at annex.

9. Mr. LAU Chin-shek, the former LegCo member in charge of the Amendment Ordinance has written to the Administration expressing his views in support of the Amendment Ordinance.

Consultation with the Provisional LegCo Panel

10. The Administration will brief the Home Affairs Panel at its meeting to be held on 19 January 1998.


11. If Members, at the meeting of the Council to be held on 21 January 1998, resolve to further suspend the operation of the amendments made by the Amendment Ordinance until 28 February 1998, Members will then have to decide whether there is a need to form a Bills Committee to study the Bill. The legal and drafting aspects of the Bill are in order.

Encl Prepared by
Lam Ping-man, Stephen
Assistant Legal Adviser
Provisional Legislative Council Secretariat
17 January 1998