The sub-division provides advice to the government on the interpretation of the Basic Law, both in ensuring consistency of existing legislation with the Basic Law and in the formulation of new policies and legislation. Questions concerning the interpretation of provisions of the Basic Law have arisen in a number of important lawsuits. Counsel in the sub-division work closely with other sub-divisions in the preparation of the government's case, and provide advice and research on the Basic Law and other related issues.
The sub-division plays a key role in promoting understanding of the Basic Law and the rule of law. It provides support to other government departments and public authorities including the Civil Service Training & Development Institute and the Civil Service Bureau both by giving lectures and seminars on the Basic Law and by assisting in the preparation and updating of self-learning booklets and other training and education materials. Since 2001, the sub-division (in tandem with the Civil Service Bureau and the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau) has been publishing the Basic Law Bulletin annually in order to promote greater awareness and knowledge of the Basic Law.
The sub-division maintains a collection of research materials relevant to the Basic Law and constitutional law. This includes reference books and articles, relevant decisions and interpretations of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, reports of the Basic Law Consultative Committee and court judgments. The collection is regularly updated as more case precedents and other literature on the Basic Law become available.
The sub-division addresses the need for advice on Mainland law issues and comments on draft arrangements to be entered into between Hong Kong and Mainland authorities. In addition, the sub-division works closely with the legal profession in seeking greater access to the legal services market in the Mainland under the framework of CEPA and in promoting Hong Kong’s legal and dispute resolution services in the Mainland. These promotional events include the biennial Hong Kong Legal Services Forum as well as seminars held in the context of the Belt and Road Initiative and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area development.
The sub-division discusses with the Mainland authorities on a range of arrangements on mutual legal assistance in civil and commercial matters. The sub-division also organises training programmes to facilitate Mainland officials to have a better understanding of Hong Kong's legal system and arranges the summer attachment programme for Hong Kong law students in the Mainland.
In addition to pursuing closer legal cooperation with the Mainland, the sub-division also explores ways to strengthen closer cooperation with our counterparts in Macao and Taiwan.
The sub-division provides specialised advice and assistance on human rights law within the Department of Justice and to other government bureaux and departments, with reference to the human rights provisions of the Basic Law. Apart from advising other sub-divisions of the department on human rights law and issues arising from litigation, the sub-division also advises government bureaux and departments on the human rights implications of legislative proposals and practices arising from the implementation of legislation to ensure their consistency with the human rights provisions of the Basic Law.
The sub-division provides advice and assistance to government bureaux in the preparation of reports to the United Nations under various human rights instruments, the provisions of which are applied to Hong Kong, namely the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (implemented by the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance (Cap 383)), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Counsel in the sub-division also attend United Nations committee hearings on the HKSAR's periodic reports.
The sub-division also advises government bureaux and departments extensively on the interpretation, implementation and implications of the Sex Discrimination Ordinance (Cap 480), the Disability Discrimination Ordinance (Cap 487), the Family Status Discrimination Ordinance (Cap 527) and the Race Discrimination Ordinance (Cap 602).
The sub-division provides legal advice and support on constitutional development and electoral affairs to the relevant bureaux and departments. It advises the Electoral Affairs Commission (EAC), Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau (CMAB), Registration and Electoral Office (REO), Home Affairs Department (HAD) and Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) on the interpretation and application of the various pieces of election-related legislation.
The sub-division also provides legal support on matters relating to post-election reviews, complaints and appeals, and where necessary, works with the relevant bureaux on the follow-up amendments to the relevant legislation.
Furthermore, the sub-division assists the Government in explaining the legal aspects of the legislative proposals relating to constitutional development and electoral matters in the Executive Council, Legislative Council or any other committees, as required.