The Judicial Construction of Hong Kong’s Basic Law

Courts, Politics and Society after 1997


Lo Pui Yin

ISBN : 978-988-8208-07-4


February 2014

624 pages, 6.5″ x 9.5″

  • HK$580.00

China has granted Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy through the Basic Law under the principle of “one country, two systems”. Hong Kong’s legal system under the Basic Law is based on the common law and is administered by independent courts. By interpreting the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s courts have reviewed legislation and executive decisions, and have achieved a “second founding” of the Basic Law as an enforceable constitution. This book is the first comprehensive account of how the Hong Kong courts gained this vital power of judicial review. Through an analysis of important court cases since 1997, the book also examines how the Hong Kong courts maintain their relationships with the executive and legislature, and with China’s Central Authorities, which have been sceptical of these achievements. Hong Kong’s unique status as a common law jurisdiction within socialist China poses risks of integration: this book concludes that the best choice lies in maintaining and developing a cosmopolitan judicial outlook.

Lo Pui Yin is a barrister specializing in constitutional and human rights law. He is the author of several books and articles on law in Hong Kong.

“This book will become the definitive account of the judicial role in Hong Kong after 1997. Writing with great flair, Dr. Lo provides a richly contextual story of judges making great use of a novel legal arrangement to tread new ground. This thorough work of scholarship is a must-read for students of Hong Kong law, as well as those interested in China and comparative judicial politics more broadly.” —Tom Ginsburg, Leo Spitz Professor of International Law, University of Chicago Law School

“Lo Pui Yin has written a comprehensive and sophisticated introduction to the major cases and jurisprudence of the Hong Kong courts. Engaging important current controversies, he offers a powerful defence of the present system of constitutional review, resting on Hong Kong’s common law tradition.” —Mark Tushnet, William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law, Harvard Law School

“This is a thoughtful and scholarly account of an important topic—the construction of the Basic Law by the HKSAR courts. This is a question of vital importance to Hong Kong but it should also be of interest and importance to Mainland legal scholarship. Moreover, the comparative constitutional lawyers across the world will be intrigued by this rigorous and perceptive account of the bridge between the common law of Hong Kong and the legal system of the PRC.” —Christopher Forsyth, Professor of Public Law and Private International Law, University of Cambridge

“Lo Pui Yin has produced a monumental book, of great learning, profound research and insightful reflections on the efforts of Hong Kong’s judiciary in maintaining the rule of law within the framework of the Basic Law, developing its jurisdiction and jurisprudence with great skill, learning, and, now, a bit of tact. Lo’s mastery of the case law is unrivalled and his legal and political analysis masterly.” —Yash Ghai, Emeritus Professor, University of Hong Kong, and author of Hong Kong’s New Constitutional Order