It is fundamental to Hong Kong’s legal system that members of the judiciary are independent of the executive authorities and legislature. The Chief Justice is the head of the judiciary, both in a judicial and an administrative sense. He is assisted on the administrative support side by a Judiciary Administrator, ranked at the same level as a permanent secretary to a policy bureau. On the judicial side, the open courts at the various levels are presided over by judges who, in accordance with Article 92 of the Basic Law, are chosen on the basis of their judicial and professional qualities. Some senior judges are recruited from amongst eminent local legal practitioners (comprising both barristers and solicitors) and others are promoted from within the judiciary or recruited from senior posts in the Department of Justice. Under Article 92, judges may be recruited also from other common law jurisdictions. They all make their judgments independently, subject to appeal as laid down by law. The independence of the judiciary, in Hong Kong as elsewhere, is essentially made up of two aspects - constitutional independence and independence of outlook. Judicial independence is underpinned by the method of judicial appointment under Article 88 of the Basic Law, and the guarantee of security of tenure under Article 89. Under Article 85, a judge also enjoys and will continue to enjoy a large measure of protection against civil liability in respect of acts performed while sitting in that capacity, and his or her conduct cannot be questioned by the legislature. This judicial independence is a fundamental aspect of the rule of law.
The courts of justice in Hong Kong comprise the Court of Final Appeal, the High Court (which includes the Court of Appeal and the Court of First Instance), the District Court (which includes the Family Court), the Competition Tribunal, the Lands Tribunal, the Magistrates' Courts (which include the Juvenile Court), the Coroner's Court, the Labour Tribunal, the Small Claims Tribunal and the Obscene Articles Tribunal.