The Law Drafting Division is responsible for drafting all legislation proposed by the Government. Its objective is to draft legislation that accurately reflects the intended policy and is both legally sound and easy to understand. This chapter sets out the progress the Division has made in providing legislative drafting services in the HKSAR and highlights the Division’s most significant work in the busy and dynamic years of 2012 to 2014.
The HKSAR is the only jurisdiction in the world that enacts legislation in both the English and Chinese languages. Both language texts of legislation are equally authentic, and the law operates on the principle that one text is not treated as merely a translation of the other. To achieve this, the Division is dedicated to refining its drafting skills and developing best practices to ensure that the two texts have no ambiguities and clearly convey the same meaning.
As well as drafting legislation for new government policies, the Division carries out other important duties. First, the Division vets the bills and subsidiary legislation put forward by non-government bodies to ensure that they comply with current drafting styles and practices. Secondly, it provides the drafting work necessary for applying the relevant national laws of the People’s Republic of China to the HKSAR (i.e. those listed in Annex III to the Basic Law).
Finally, the Division plays a key role in compiling and publishing the Laws of Hong Kong by ensuring that the published laws are up to date and accessible. As at 31 December 2014, the hard copy loose-leaf edition of the laws comprised 56 volumes (excluding the Editorial Records and Index volumes), containing 696 Ordinances and 1466 items of subsidiary legislation. In addition, the online legislation database, known as the Bilingual Laws Information System (BLIS), is available free to the public on the internet.