Special Administrative Region
Secretary for Justice
|Member of||Government Secretariat|
|Reports to||Legislative Council|
|Residence||19 Severn Road, The Peak|
|Appointer||Central People's Government|
nomination by Chief Executive
|Term length||No longer than the Chief Executive's remaining term|
|Inaugural holder||Elsie Leung|
|Formation||1 July 1997|
|Salary||HK$4.2 million p.a.|
The Secretary for Justice (Chinese: 律政司司長) is the head of the Hong Kong Department of Justice, the chief legal advisor to the Chief Executive of Hong Kong, and the chief law enforcement officer of the Government of Hong Kong. Before the Transfer of the Sovereignty in 1997, the position was known as the Attorney-General of Hong Kong.
The Secretary for Justice, nominated by the Chinese government on the advice of the Chief Executive of Hong Kong, is an ex officio member of the Executive Council of Hong Kong. The Secretary takes office after appointment by the Government of the People's Republic of China, which is responsible for Hong Kong's foreign affairs and defence. The Secretary for Justice also belongs to the Policy Committee, which is chaired by the Chief Secretary,
The Office of the Secretary for Justice was established by the Hong Kong Basic Law, which guarantees the power of the Department of Justice to control criminal prosecutions free from any interference. The position is normally held by a legal professional, and was, before July 2002, a civil service position. The Secretary for Justice, after the Chief Secretary and the Financial Secretary, is one of the three highest Principal Officials of the Government.
In the course of discharging his or her duties as the chief legal advisor to the Chief Executive of Hong Kong, the Secretary for Justice is assisted by five law officers, namely:
- the Solicitor General who heads the Legal Policy Division,
- the Director of Public Prosecutions who head the Prosecutions Division,
- the Law Officer (Civil Law) who heads the Civil Law Division,
- the Law Officer (International Law) who heads the International Law Division, and
- the Law Draftsman who heads the Law Drafting Division
(The Administration and Development Division is headed by an Administrative Officer.)
Ranking in the Hong Kong Government
The Secretary for Justice is the third in line, after the Chief Secretary and the Financial Secretary, to act for the Chief Executive when he or she is on leave, outside Hong Kong, or when the position is otherwise temporarily vacant.
The Secretary for Justice ranks fifth in the Hong Kong order of precedence.
The Secretary for Justice has an official residence at 19 Severn Road, The Peak. Opened in 1934 for use by Attorney General Hong Kong.
Before the 1997 handover to China, the position was known as the Attorney General (Chinese: 律政司), and the department was known as the Legal Department (Chinese: 律政署) and was also known as the Attorney General's Chambers (Chinese: 律政司署). The office of the Attorney General was never localized during British rule and no Hong Kong Chinese ever held this key post.
List of Secretaries/Attorneys General
Attorneys General, 1844–1997
|№||Portrait||Name||Took office||Left office||Notes||Ref|
|1||Paul Ivy Sterling||1844||1855||First Attorney General (AG) of Hong Kong. Later appointed Puisne Judge in Ceylon 1855 and acting Chief Justice 1860.|
|2||Thomas Chisholm Anstey||1855||1859||Former member of British Parliament 1847-1852. Practiced at Bombay bar after retirement.|
|3||William Adams||1859||1860||Did not act as AG and was appointed acting Chief Justice immediately on arrival in Hong Kong and then appointed as Chief Justice of Hong Kong.|
|4||Sir John Smale||1860||1866||Appointed Chief Justice of Hong Kong 1866|
|5||Sir Julian Pauncefote||1866||1873||Appointed Chief Justice of the Leeward Islands 1874. Later had a very illustrious career in the Foreign Office. Became Lord Pauncefote in 1899.|
|6||Sir John Bramston||1873||1876||Appointed Assistant Under Secretary of State in the Colonial Office 1876.|
|7||Sir George Phillippo||1876||1879||First non-British-born AG, Phillippo was born in Jamaica. He left to become Chief Justice of Gibraltar 1879 to 1882 and returned to appointed Chief Justice of Hong Kong 1882. In 1897 he became British High Consul in Geneva, Switzerland.|
|8||Sir Edward O'Malley||1880||1889||Appointed Chief Justice of the Straits Settlements 1889 and Chief Justice of British Guiana 1895.|
|9||Sir W. Meigh Goodman, QC/KC||1890||1902||Appointed Chief Justice of Hong Kong 1902.|
|10||Sir Henry Spencer Berkeley, KC||1902||1906||Previously Chief Justice of Fiji 1889-1902. Retired to practice at Hong Kong bar 1906, but acted as AG in 1909.|
|11||Sir William Rees Davies, KC||1907||1912||Appointed Chief Justice of Hong Kong 1912.|
|12||Sir John Bucknill, KC||1912||1914||Appointed Chief Justice of the Straits Settlements 1914 and Puisne Judge of the Patna High Court in Patna, British India 1920.|
|13||Sir Joseph Kemp, KC||1914||1930||Puisne Judge, Hong Kong, prior to appointment 1913-1914. Next appointed Chief Justice of Hong Kong 1930.|
|14||Sir C. Grenville Alabaster, KC||1930||1941||Interned in Stanley Internment Camp during World War II and retired after the war.|
|British administration suspended during Japanese occupation during World War II. Military Government from August 1945 to March 1946.|
|15||John Bowes Griffin, KC||1946||1951||Appointed in December 1946. G.E. Strickland, acted as AG before Bowes Griffin's appointment. Bowes Griffin was next appointed Chief Justice of Uganda 1952. Was acting Chief Justice of Northern Rhodesia 1957, Speaker of the Legislative Council in Uganda 1958-1962 and Speaker of the Ugandan National Assembly 1962-1963.|
|16||Arthur Ridehalgh, KC/QC||1952||26 November 1961||Last AG to be a KC. Retired on a pension.|||
|17||Maurice Heenan, QC||4 December 1961||2 September 1966||Non-British-born (born in New Zealand). Crown Counsel prior to appointment. Resigned to join United Nations as Deputy Director of the General Legal Division 1966-1973, then as General Counsel for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestinian Refugees in Beirut 1973-1977. Died in the United States.|||
|18||Denys Roberts, QC||3 September 1966||29 September 1973||Appointed Colonial/Chief Secretary (1973-1979) and then Chief Justice of Hong Kong. Retired on a pension.|||
|19||John Hobley, QC||30 September 1973||3 June 1979||Served as Crown Counsel in Hong Kong 1953-1973, briefly as Attorney General of Bermuda 1972-1973 and Solicitor General of Hong Kong 1973. Retired on a pension in 1979.|||
|20||John Griffiths, QC||4 June 1979||10 June 1983||Last non-British-born AG - born in Persia (now Iran). Entered private practice at the English and Hong Kong bars after retirement until 2012.|||
|21||Michael Thomas, QC||11 June 1983||30 March 1988||Last QC to be AG. Entered private practice at Hong Kong and English bars after retirement.|||
|22||Jeremy Mathews||1 April 1988||30 June 1997||First solicitor to be appointed AG. Last AG. Retired at end of British rule in Hong Kong.|||
Secretaries for Justice, 1997–present
Political party: Nonpartisan
|№||Portrait||Name||Term of office||Duration||Chief Executive||Term||Ref|
|1||Elsie Leung Oi-sie
|1 July 1997||20 October 2005||8 years and 112 days||Tung Chee-hwa
|2||Wong Yan-lung, SC
|20 October 2005||30 June 2012||6 years and 255 days|
|3||Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung, SC
|1 July 2012||5 January 2018||5 years and 189 days||Leung Chun-ying
|4||Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah, SC
|6 January 2018||Incumbent||2 years, 296 days|
- Attorney general
- Justice minister
- Minister of Justice (France), who performs similar functions to his or her Hong Kong counterpart
- "Remuneration package for Politically Appointed Officials serving in fifth-term HKSAR Government". Hong Kong Government.
- Article 53, Hong Kong Basic Law
- Article 63, Hong Kong Basic Law
- "No. 27478". The London Gazette. 30 September 1902. p. 6209.
- "G.N. 2093 of 1961". Hong Kong Government Gazette. 103: 3108. 1 December 1961.
- "G.N. 586 of 1962". Hong Kong Government Gazette. 104: 1116. 23 March 1962.
- "G.N. 2282 of 1966". Hong Kong Government Gazette. 108: 2240. 9 September 1966.
- "G.N. 2559 of 1973". Hong Kong Government Gazette. 115: 3839. 5 October 1973.
- "G.N. 1384 of 1979". Hong Kong Government Gazette. 121: 1681. 8 June 1979.
- "G.N. 1773 of 1983". Hong Kong Government Gazette. 125: 2825. 10 August 1983.
- "G.N. 1082 of 1988". Hong Kong Government Gazette. 130: 1521. 10 August 1988.