Bar Association will stay away from politics: new chair

21-Jan-2022 Intellasia | TheStandard | 1:55 PM Print This Post

The Bar Association will “actively participate” in consultation of the Basic Law Article 23 legislation but will stay away from political issues, said newly-elected chair Victor Dawes.

After being elected chair uncontested in its annual general meeting on Thursday, senior counsel Dawes, 44, said the association is a professional organisation, and any political issues are “unrelated” to the group.

“The association also has the social responsibility to voice out on issues related to the rule of law. But when it comes to politics, rule of law is not a political concept. The Bar Association shall also not speak out or handle political issues,” Dawes told a press briefing.

As the government has already hinted at plans to enact Article 23, Dawes said: “The Bar Association will be hoping to provide our opinion towards the bill regarding the legislation of Basic Law Article 23.

“We will absolutely put our utmost effort to participate in [the consultation], as we also think this is in line with public interests.”

He disagreed with opinions within the society that “the rule of law is dead”.

“One must appreciate that rule of law is of course important and precious, but in a way it is also fragile everywhere in the world, and we should all work very hard to preserve it because this is what gives Hong Kong our edge,” Dawes said.

Also elected in an uncontested election were senior counsels Derek Chan Ching-lung, 42, and Jose-Antonio Maurellet, 43, as vice chairmen.

Speaking after the meeting, barrister and former lawmaker Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee said that the election results showed that no matter how hard the situation is, someone from the Bar Association will step forward to retain the public’s faith in the association.

Ng also said she “extremely respects” Dawes, adding that she believes the association will continue safeguarding the rule of law and hopes the public will keep on trusting the association.

Former chair Philip Dykes said he agrees that the association should maintain a good relationship with the government, but it should also care about human rights, therefore hope the new chair would “not compromise” in matters of principle.

Founding chair of Democratic Party and senior counsel Martin Lee Chu-ming said he is confident in Dawes.

In the same meeting, senior counsels Maggie Wong Pui-kei and Anson Wong Man-kit, and barristers Rooney Kim, Martin Wong Wing-hoi and Alexander Tang Kin-man are elected to the Bar Council without a contest.

They will join six existing members Pauline Leung Po-lam, Issac Chan Chi-kong, Jeffrey Tam Chun-kit, Azan Marwah, Lester Lee Hiu-leung and Lorraine Tsang Hei-man who will remain in the Council.

The nine remaining vacancies in the Council will be appointed by Dawes at a later time.

Dawes was called to the bar in 1999 and was appointed senior counsel in 2015. He has since taken up public duties, and was appointed a deputy High Court judge in 2017.

Specialised in commercial litigation and arbitration in his legal career, he was appointed non-executive director of the Securities and Futures Commission last July by financial secretary Paul Chan Mo-po.

Dawes has also represented the government on multiple occasions, including representing the police commissioner in a judicial review at the High Court about whether it is against the human rights law for riot police officers to not show their identification numbers when working at protests.

Also specialised in commercial litigation and arbitration like Dawes was newly-elected vice chair Maurellet, who was called to the bar in 2000, and appointed senior counsel in 2016.

This would be the second time Maurellet takes the position as he had previously served as vice chair in 2017 to 2019 under then chair Paul Lam Ting-kwok and his successor Philip Dykes.

He was also a former member of the Independent Police Complaints Council and filed an injunction on behalf of Kwoon Chung Bus during the Occupy movement in 2014.

The other vice chair, Chan, specialises in criminal litigation. He was called to the bar in 2004, and was appointed senior counsel in 2018.

Chan represented former RTHK producer Bao Choy Yuk-ling for making false declarations under the Road Traffic Ordinance while conducting registration searches for a Hong Kong Connection episode related to the July 21 assaults in Yuen Long MTR station.


Category: Hong Kong

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