LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 133/96-97

LegCo Panel on Administration of Justice and Legal Services

Minutes of the First Meeting held on Thursday, 3 October 1996 at 10:30 am in Conference Room B of the Legislative Council Building

Members Present :
    Hon Margaret NG (Chairman)
    Hon Andrew CHENG Kar-foo (Deputy Chairman)
    Hon Martin LEE Chu-ming, QC, JP
    Hon Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee, OBE, JP
    Hon Emily LAU Wai-hing
    Hon Eric LI Ka-cheung, OBE, JP
    Hon James TO Kun-sun
    Hon Ambrose LAU Hon-chuen, JP
Members Absent:
    Hon Ronald Arculli, OBE, JP*
    Dr Hon Philip WONG Yu-hong*
    Hon David CHU Yu-lin*
    Hon Albert HO Chun-yan*
    Hon Bruce LIU Sing-lee*
Clerk in Attendance :
    Mrs Betty LEUNG
    Chief Assistant Secretary (2) 3
Staff in Attendance:
    Mrs Justina LAM
    Assistant Secretary General 2
    Miss Flora TAI
    Senior Assistant Secretary (2) 3

I. Election of chairman and deputy chairman

Before nominations were called, members were invited to refer to the list of Government advisory bodies in respect of which restriction of chairmanship or deputy chairmanship of the Panel applied.

2. Hon Margaret NG and Hon Andrew CHENG were elected chairman and deputy chairman of the Panel respectively.

II. Terms of reference

(Appendix II to the agenda of the meeting)

3. Mr Martin LEE remarked that bracketing the words of "consistently with maintaining the independence of the Judiciary and the rule of law" in the first term of reference of the Panel might give a wrong impression that the meaning they carried was of lesser importance. He therefore suggested and members agreed to recommend for the endorsement of the House Committee that the first term of reference should be amended as follows:

    "To monitor and examine, consistently with maintaining the independence of the Judiciary and the rule of law, policy matters relating to the administration of justice and legal services, including the effectiveness of the implementation of the same by relevant officials and departments."Clerk

III. Schedule of meetings for the 1996-97 session

4. As for the last legislative session, members agreed that future meetings of the Panel starting from November 1996 would be held on the second Monday of a month, at 4:30 pm, and that the regular meeting for October 1996 would be held on Friday, 18 October 1996 at 8:30 am. Members agreed that all meetings would be held in Conference Room A of the LegCo Building. Members noted that policy briefing for the Panel had been scheduled for Monday, 7 October 1996. Since the chairman would be out of town, members agreed that the deputy chairman would chair the meeting for the policy briefing.

IV. Items for discussion at the next meeting

(Appendix III to the agenda of the meeting)

5. The Chairman brought Panel members through all known outstanding issues of the Panel. The decisions reached on these issues are set out below.

Subject Decision
1)Fraud Bill
(LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 2212/95-96 issued on 30.9.1996)
To receive a briefing on the policy intention of the Bill by the Attorney General's Chambers at the next Panel regular meeting.
2) Administration of Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) (No. 2) Bill 1996 (LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 2227/95-96 issued on 1.10.1996)
3) Rules set by judges in the conduct of court proceedingsTo consider the two issues together as well as to ask views from the Chairman of the Hong Kong Bar Association since she was proposing for the setting up of a code of conduct for judges. Panel members to discuss when papers were ready.Clerk
4) Judiciary's explicit guidelines on conflicts of interest in relation to appointment of recorders
5) Whether there should be policy changes on provision of legal aidTo invite Chairman of Legal Aid Services Council to meet Panel members in the regular October meeting, in order to brief members on: (a) the general policy direction of the legal aid services; (b) the present and future scope of these services; (c) the most effective communication channel between the Panel and the Council; & (d) the accountability and independence of the Council.Clerk
6) To review the Inspectorate Scheme conducted by the Law Society of Hong KongTo be discussed at the regular Panel meeting in December 1996 when ICAC's report was ready.
7) Demographic projectionsPanel not to discuss the subject since Panel on Environmental Affairs would discuss it in its regular November meeting.Clerk
8) Criteria for granting compensation under section 18A of the Public Finance Ordinance and the criteria for calculating the amount of compensation.The Secretary for Security to brief Panel members in the October regular meeting on whether amendments on the section or what amendments would be made, and to explain if it was decided that there would be no amendments.
9) To review the time frame for achieving the target for producing brief facts in relation to Police Information Technology Strategy.Panel would request for written information paper from the Security Branch and would not discuss the subject at meeting.

V. Any other business

Provision of information papers

6. Members agreed that the Clerk would write to the Attorney General, the Judiciary Administrator and the Director of Administration to re-iterate the Panel's request that (a) documents needed to be provided simultaneously in Chinese and English to the Panel one week before the meeting; (b) documents should be made available as early as possible in respect of urgent meetings; and (c) the tabling of documents at meeting should be avoided as far as possible. In this connection, the Chairman would seek explanation from the Administration at the meeting whenever the request had not been met.

Relationship with the Judiciary

7. In the light that the Judiciary Administrator had cast doubt on the constitutional propriety for her to forward a number of questions raised by the chairman regarding the Judge Caird situation, the chairman brought up the issue regarding communication and relationship with the Judiciary and the Judiciary Administrator for discussion. Members in general agreed that it was of primary importance to adopt an appropriate communication channel and a proper approach, in consistent with the Panel's terms of reference, when dealing with the Judiciary. Since the Judiciary Administrator had indicated that she was seeking legal advice on the constitutional propriety to forward such questions to the Judiciary, taking into account the scope of her responsibility, the chairman asked the clerk to follow up with the Judiciary Administrator on whether such advice or its gist could be made available to the Panel. At her suggestion, the view of the Legal Adviser on the matter would also be sought. If the advice was that such action on her part was considered constitutionally improper, the Clerk should prepare a letter to the acting Chief Justice to seek his advice as to what would be the proper channel for the Panel to address the Judiciary, whilst fully respecting the independence of the Judiciary.Clerk

8. There being no other business, the meeting ended at 11:15 am.
LegCo Secretariat
7 October 1996

* ..other commitments

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