Law reform

“Should the partial defence of provocation to murder be reformed? If so, why and how? If not, why not?”

You may find the questions very challenging. Those who can give a cogent argument must be engaged in the legal profession for a long time. Will you be surprised if I tell you that six law students studied this topic in a comprehensive, in-depth and thorough way?

The six students are in fact the winners of the Law Reform Essay Competition 2019, which is organised by the Law Reform Commission (LRC). We hope it will arouse students’ awareness in law reform and to offer them an opportunity to reflect on, and then make proposals about, what the law “should be”. The winners were each awarded a one-month or two-month attachment with a leading law firm, a barristers' chambers, a commercial corporation or the Department of Justice. I believe this valuable experience will be beneficial to their future career development.

If you are interested in their essays, please go to the website of the LRC.

I would also like to give you a brief introduction of the LRC. It is an independent body and considers whether, and if so, how reform of the laws in a specified area should be made. Its recommendations will be passed to the relevant policy bureau of the government to consider whether or not to accept. Last year, three sub-committees of the LRC published their respective consultation papers. It is also worth mentioning that the Sexual Offences Sub-committee published a report on voyeurism and non-consensual upskirt-photography to respond to the imminent need for the introduction of these new offences.

Having set out what the LRC does, you may note that new legislation is often proposed by policy bureaux. Our counsel will liaise with the relevant policy bureau to gain a thorough understanding of the background and intended effect of the proposal. They will also provide advice on whether the proposed legislation is consistent with the Basic Law and other legal matters. Our counsel will work closely with the policy bureau in drafting the proposed legislation taking into account the policy direction. They will also assist in the legislative process.

Being the Secretary for Justice and the Chairman of the LRC, I am committed to keeping our law up-to-date and will continue to closely follow up on the implementation of proposals made by the LRC.

July 14, 2019