Constitutional Law and Administrative Law

We are one of the firms in Hong Kong specializing in administrative and constitutional law proceedings, in particular Judicial Review applications and Election Petitions.  We have significant experience of judicial review in a wide range of sectors including various governmental departments, statutory bodies, universities, town planning and land developments, Chief Executive in Council (CEIC), environmental, constitutionality of ordinances and regimes, professional bodies decisions, police.  We are regularly representing applicants and interested parties, as well as respondents in public law litigation and many of their cases are leading cases in the area.

What to do if you have a claim?

Judicial Review is the application you might make to the Court when you suffer from a Decision made by a public body, including government departments, universities and organization set up by statues on the grounds of procedural impropriety, illegality and irrationality and legitimate expectation. You can invite the Court to make a declaration that the Decision is unconstitutional, unlawful or procedurally unfair, upon which the aggrieved decision will be revert back to the public body; or to strike down the unconstitutional part of the legislation. Judicial Review application can only be brought if you have exhausted all other means to seek relief.

From the date of the Decision, you should as soon as possible, and within the prescribed time limit, apply for judicial challenge against the Decision. Judicial Review applications usually take some time to proceed and you may be subject to risks of costs if the Court finds your case hopeless or if you are unsuccessful in the Judicial Review applications.  After filing in the documents, an Applicant must seek leave to lodge the Judicial Review before the case finally settles for substantive hearing.

As this type of litigation is usually technical and reliant on legal submission, you would be advised to seek legal advice before bringing an application. Your legal advisor would comprehensively advise you as the applicant on filing a Form 86 stating the grounds of review, together with an affidavit stating the background of the Decision and personal background of the Applicant.

Please keep all relevant papers, including the letter or document indicating the Decision and proof of your detriment for the proceedings; and make sure you update the Court if the Decision has changed or is no longer in force.

Election Petition is another area of our specialization. We have represented clients in lodging and defending Election Petitions for all levels of elections in Hong Kong, including Village Representative Elections, District Council Elections, Legislative Council Elections and Chief Executive Elections to challenge the outcomes of the elections of the power of the returning officers of the elections.

Please contact our  Mr. Jonathan Man, Ms. Kristine Chan or Mr. Kwok Hei Yau for advice.

Case Highlight

Successful application to declare Government’s decision to invalidate vaccine exemption certificate unlawful.

Our firm act for the Applicant in these proceedings.

The Honourable Mr Justice Coleman has ruled that the Secretary for Health’s decision to invalidate the allegedly questionable specified medical exemption certificates ultra vires. The Court held that the Government lacks the legal power to do so under Prevention and Control of Disease (Requirements and Directions) (Business and Premises) Regulation Cap. 599F and/or Prevention and Control of Disease (Vaccine Pass) Regulation Cap. 599L. The Court decided that the Government’s decision has in effect carved out a statutory exception to the section 5 of Cap 599L exemption either legally or as an administrative measure. The Court further held that that the legislation gives to registered medical practitioners the task of considering whether a person is clinically assessed to be unsuitable for being vaccinated, and if so for how long. The power is to the doctors alone and not to anyone else.

The Court also awarded costs to the Applicant.

On 25 October 2022, the government announced that it would not appeal to the case and proceeded to make legal amendments to empower the Secretary to nullify the relevant exemption certificates.

This case was handled by our Ms. Kristine Chan, Ms. Jessie Ng and Ms. Heidi Yu, supervised by our partner Mr. Jonathan Man.

The Judgment can be found here:

An international school in Lantau Island wishes to build a secondary school at Tung Chung Fort but the Education Bureau blocked the tenancy application by not offering policy support to the application. The Bureau decided that there was no shortage of international school places in a territory wide basis based on surveys and materials. However, important materials were not disclosed to the School for the School to respond to them adequately.

The case won on procedural fairness. The Court held that the requirement of disclosing adverse document or information to the affected person is related to the right to be heard and it allows the affected person a meaningful representation to address the case against him. The School has previously able to show specific unmet demand, and the Court agreed that should the key material be provided to the School, it would have been able to prove district-specific consideration to the Bureau. Further the Court found that the Bureau should have given fair and adequate reasons (on top of disclosing the key material data) to the School in terms of its weighing of materials.

We represented the School to bring a judicial review at Court to quash the Secretary’s decision. The tenancy application was revived upon the Judgment. Costs was awarded upon successful application.

The Judgment can be found here:

The two Applicants are practising clinical psychologists who have finished the doctoral program by the School of Continuing and Professional Education of the City University of Hong Kong, in collaboration with the California School of Professional Psychology of Alliant International University, obtaining a Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology degree (the “CSPP PsyD Degree”). Their application for judicial review challenges the relevant registration requirements of the Hong Kong Institute of Clinical Psychologists Limited, namely paragraph 5.2 of the Registration Policy.

Our firm represent Hong Kong Institute of Clinical Psychologists Limited, a professional body accredited by the Department of Health, in justifying the fairness, reasonableness and professional decision under paragraph 5.2.

The Applicants advanced three grounds for judicial review, namely (1) apparent bias; (2) irrationality in that they are predicated upon factual errors and/or findings of fact which are unsupported by evidence, and/or (3) Wednesbury unreasonableness, in which no reasonable accreditation body could ever have come to the conclusion that the CSPP PsyD Degree is not an equivalent qualification to the recognised local qualifications under the Registration Policy. The Court considered the arguments and upheld the Institute’s decision in the exercise of professional knowledge, expertise and judgment. The court confirmed that it would respect the judgment of the professional body on an issue of this nature, unless grounds for intervention are clearly shown.

The Court dismissed the application and ordered the Applicant to pay the costs of the Institute.

The Judgment can be found here: 138066&currpage=T