23. Publication of Reasons

23.1   The Department of Justice is committed to operating in an open and accountable fashion, with as much transparency as is consistent with the interests of public justice. However, the benefit of justice being seen to be done must not be allowed to result in justice not being done.

23.2   Reasons for decisions made in the course of prosecutions or of giving advice may be given where practicable, orally or in writing, to those with a legitimate interest in the matter or where it is otherwise appropriate. A legitimate interest includes:

  1. the interest of a court in knowing why a particular course of action has been taken;
  2. the interest of a victim of crime in the conduct of a case;
  3. the interest of an agency of government or an entity with a proper interest in knowing the basis of advice given;
  4. the interest of the community and the media in the open dispensation of justice where previous proceedings have been public.

23.3   The prosecution has an obligation to assist, where appropriate, in public education about the conduct of the prosecution process. Reasons should ordinarily be expressed in terms of the general principles applied, rather than the details of individual cases.

23.4   There are circumstances in which the giving of reasons may be contrary to the public interest or otherwise inappropriate, including where to do so:

  1. may prejudice ongoing investigations or the integrity of law enforcement;
  2. may adversely affect the interests of a victim of crime, a witness, a suspect or an accused;
  3. may adversely affect the administration of justice (especially in the case of a decision not to prosecute where public discussion may amount to a public trial without the safeguards of the criminal justice process);
  4. may expose information given confidentially or sensitive information, the exposure of which may give rise to legitimate concern to individuals;
  5. may be contrary to protections given by the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance, Cap. 486;
  6. may be contrary to legal professional privilege (unless waived) or public interest immunity.

23.5   It will generally be unnecessary to give reasons for a decision to prosecute or to institute an appeal or review as the reasons will become apparent in the course of the proceedings themselves.