HKSAR LegCo adopts legal practitioners bill
The Legislative Council (LegCo) of China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region on Wednesday adopted the Legal Practitioners (Amendment) Bill 2023 after a third reading, implementing an earlier interpretation of the Hong Kong national security law by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress .
Paul Lam, secretary for justice of the HKSAR government, said the HKSAR government proposed revisions to the bill in order to effectively implement the spirit of the interpretation and to address the potential national security risks posed by overseas lawyers participating in national security cases.
The HKSAR government proposed a case-by-case approach to handle the question of whether overseas lawyers can participate in national security cases on an ad hoc basis, and the basic principle is that unless there are exceptional circumstances, overseas lawyers should not be approved to participate in the trial of national security cases, he said.
An exception is where the HKSAR chief executive has good reason to believe that the applicant's practicing or acting as a barrister in relation to a national security case does not involve or would not undermine national security, he said.
After receiving the application from an overseas lawyer, the Hong Kong court must obtain a certificate issued by the HKSAR chief executive in accordance with Article 47 of the Hong Kong national security law to determine whether the application falls under exceptional circumstances.
The overseas lawyer may not be admitted as a barrister for that case unless the court receives a certificate from the HKSAR chief executive certifying that the application falls under exceptional circumstances, Lam said.
On December 30, 2022, the NPC Standing Committee adopted an interpretation of Article 14 and Article 47 of the Hong Kong national security law.
The interpretation further clarifies the legislative intent of the national security law, and specifies the status and responsibilities of the Committee for Safeguarding National Security of the HKSAR and HKSAR chief executive in handling national security issues. It has resolved the issues that have arisen in the application of the Hong Kong national security law.