Two former Supreme Court judges resign from Hong Kong court

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By Rhys Duncan on


Lords Sumption and Collins

Hong Kong

Two of the UK’s leading former judges have resigned from Hong Kong’s top court.

Lords Sumption and Collins have both stepped back from their roles as non-permanent judges on the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal.

Lord Collins, appointed to the court in 2011 at the end of a two-year stint in the House of Lords and then Supreme Court, cited the “political situation” as the reason for stepping back from his role in Hong Kong.

“I have resigned from the Court of Final Appeal because of the political situation in Hong Kong, but I continue to have the fullest confidence in the Court and the total independence of its members,” Lord Collins said.

Lord Sumption, who joined the court in 2019, has not yet issued a statement.

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Hong Kong chief justice Andrew Cheung acknowledged the resignations “with regret”, before reiterating “the judiciary’s commitment to upholding the rule of law and judicial independence in Hong Kong”.

“Suitable candidates from overseas common law jurisdictions will continue to be appointed to the Court”, he added.

Prominent former UK judges Lord Hoffmann, Lord Neuberger, and Lord Phillips still sit in Hong Kong on a non-permanent basis.

Back in 2022 two current members of the Supreme Court, Lord Reed and Lord Hodge, stepped down from the Hong Kong court, stating that the administration had “departed from values of political freedom, and freedom of expression”.

In recent years a number of law firms have also cut ties or amended their operations in China and Hong Kong. Earlier this year Latham & Watkins changed data access for lawyers in its Hong Kong office, with Dentons last year cutting legal ties with its Chinese partner, Dacheng Law Offices (大成), citing “recent Chinese government mandates on Chinese law firms”.

Update: June 11 — 08:32am

Lord Sumption has now commented on his decision to step down, starting that Hong Kong “is slowly becoming a totalitarian state”. You can read his full response here.


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