There are six professional divisions in the Department responsible for legal work. The Department is headed by the Secretary for Justice, who is a member of the Executive Council and is the Government’s chief legal adviser. The Secretary has ultimate responsibility for the prosecution of all offences in the HKSAR.
The Legal Policy Division, as well as the Secretary for Justice’s Office, provides professional support in the execution of the Secretary for Justice’s duties and provides input on all legal policy issues being considered by the Government. The division advises on issues relating to the administration of justice, the legal system, the legal profession, human rights, the Basic Law, constitutional development and electoral matters and Mainland Law. The Law Reform Commission Secretariat, which provides research and secretarial support to the Commission, is part of the division.
The Civil Division provides legal advice to the Government on civil law, drafts commercial contracts and franchises and conducts civil litigation, arbitration and mediation on behalf of the Government.
The Law Drafting Division drafts, in Chinese and English, all legislation proposed by the Government and provides professional support to policy bureaux throughout the legislative process. It is also responsible for updating and publishing the consolidated legislation of the HKSAR.
One of the most important functions of the Prosecutions Division is to make prosecutorial decisions, including whether to prosecute, and if so what charges to lay and before which courts. Its counsel provide legal advice to law enforcement agencies and other government departments and agencies on all prosecution, criminal law and procedure related matters, conduct trials and most appeals (up to and including those before the Court of Final Appeal).
The National Security Prosecutions Division was established in accordance with The Law of the People’s Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. It is responsible for the prosecution of offences endangering national security and other related legal work.
The International Law Division advises the Government on issues relating to public international law. Lawyers in this division also participate in the negotiation of agreements with other jurisdictions and handle requests to and from the HKSAR for international legal co-operation.
Under the direct steer of the Secretary for Justice, the Inclusive Dispute Avoidance and Resolution Office has been established since January 2019 to pursue the policy objectives of the Government in raising the international profile of the HKSAR, as well as enhancing the HKSAR’s status as the leading centre for deal-making and international legal and dispute resolution services in the Asia-Pacific region.