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【法律年度致辭】彭韻僖:市民大眾亦同樣有責任捍衛司法機構

2020/1/13 — 18:30

2020 年法律年度開啟典禮
2020 年 1 月 13 日
香港律師會會長彭韻僖致辭

終審法院首席法官、律政司司長、大律師公會主席、司法機構成員、法律界同業、各位嘉賓、各位先生、女士:

法律年度開啟典禮

廣告

我謹代表香港律師會及其會員,熱烈歡迎各位出席今年法律年度開啟典禮。有些嘉賓可能已經數十年來每年均出席這典禮,但有些首次參加的嘉賓,可能會好奇,一班尊貴的法官為何穿上中世紀服飾進場。若你以為來了一場時裝表演、話劇或歌劇,也許會投訴貨不對辦。我不清楚我們的法官是否具備時裝觸覺,或是否有繞樑三日的歌聲,我只知道我們的法官對公義有充分理解,並可作出獨立及堅實的裁決。

我一直反思舉辦法律年度開啟典禮的意義何在,最後認為舉辦此典禮的重要目的,是向社會發放一個重要訊息,即我們的司法機構一直維持獨立性及完整性,這點毋容置疑。香港的法官完全依法履行職務,誠實無私,在維護法律和執行公義時,不偏不倚,絕無私心或欺瞞,為此,法官值得我們致以最崇高敬意。

廣告

司法獨立是公民社會的重要核心價值之一,亦是法治社會的重要特質之一。我可自豪地向市民、社會大眾及國際社會指出,香港的司法制度,是完全獨立。香港市民必須明白,我們的法官只會依法斷案,而非根據任何 — 我強調「任何」— 外在因素,或「任何」顔色標籤(即現時所指的政治立場)。何熙怡女男爵最近警告,英國不宣採用美國模式的最高法院,這點我絕對同意。我們應向公眾指出,在政治上,香港的司法機構是「色盲」的。

然而,當我們的司法機構受到無理批評,市民理應維護。當然,當法官受到無理批評,法律界同業致力維護,乃責無旁貸,但更重要的是,市民大眾亦應明白,他們亦同樣有責任捍衛司法機構。法官的裁決,結果未必人人接受,但我們有上訴機制。公眾可對判決作理性和建設性的批評,但只根據判決結果及政見而對法院作出不公平和無事實根據的抨擊,卻不能接受。律師會與大律師公會在 2018 年 7 月 4 日發表聯合聲明,現引述如下:

「香港律師會與香港大律師公會呼籲公眾,應用理性辯論的方式表達意見。縱然一個文明社會應鼓勵理性交流與辯論,但絕不可對任何法官作出人身攻擊的言論。」

而律師會與大律師公會亦最近於 2020 年 1 月 2 日再發表了一份聯合聲明,引述如下:

「任何基於法官在履行司法職責時的決定,而侮辱或威嚇法官和任何企圖向法官施加公眾壓力的行為,都是對法治和司法誠信的侮辱。」

慶幸香港有一套健全的法律制度及獨立的司法機構,讓法律執業者提供專業服務。我們實有責任捍衛大家珍而重之的制度及其聲譽。

守法

很多講者都不時指出法治的重要,我毋須重複,只想在此指出「即使違法仍可維護法治」這一明顯謬誤。

守法是不容妥協的原則,無商量餘地,看似是老生常談,但縱火、傷人,不論基於任何政治原因,都難言合理。尊重他人的個人及財產權,亦是我們社會的另一核心價值。我無意冒犯,公民抗命並非縱火、破壞他人財物,或傷人的許可證。大家應緊記,守法、護法不單是我們的責任,更是我們的核心價值,否則我們便得訴諸中世紀的解決紛爭方式,例如透過決鬥作審判。所有刻意違法的行為,都會削弱法治。有說只要縱火或傷人者願意付出代價,最後入獄,法治便不會受損,這說法我不認同。我們即使與他人的政見南轅北轍,但在文明社會,總不能以暴力使他人噤聲,這是人性的基本原則。

開放及國際化

香港雖小,但足以包容不同意見和價值。法國革命家羅蘭夫人曾說:「自由!自由!以自由為名違法犯罪!」,我們不應迫害持不同政見的人,乃基本人性。我們切忌掉入「為了爭取自己的自由而損害他人的自由」的矛盾之中。

香港仍是一個最開放和自由的社會。香港在美國傳統基金會的經濟自由度指數,持續高踞榜首。在法律服務方面,香港的法律服務市場,尤其是律師,都一直開放包容,擁抱國際。我們歡迎外地律師行在香港成立辦事處。截至 2019 年底,香港一共有 91 間註冊外地律師行,以及來自 33 個司法管轄區的 1,688 名外地律師。在 2018 年,有 106 名海外律師通過海外律師資格考試獲認許為香港律師。香港被視為區內的國際法律樞紐。我有信心,憑着我們專業成員、司法機構及法律界的優質水平及廉潔誠信,香港必定可以應付挑戰,繼續成為情理兼備、造福人群的社會。

剛踏入 2020 年,謹藉此機會祝大家對 2020 年,有清晰願景,身體健康,諸事如意。謝謝大家!

SPEECH OF MELISSA K PANG
PRESIDENT OF THE LAW SOCIETY OF HONG KONG
AT THE OPENING OF THE LEGAL YEAR 2020
13 JANUARY 2020

Chief Justice, Secretary for Justice, Chairman of the Hong Kong Bar Association, Members of the Judiciary, Members of the Legal Professions, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Opening of the Legal Year

1. On behalf of the Law Society of Hong Kong and our members, I extend a warm welcome to all our guests who attend this Opening of the Legal Year ceremony. Some of our guests may have attended this ceremony routinely for decades. For some, it may be the first year they attend this ceremony. They may wonder why this parade of our distinguished judges all robed with medieval costumes. If you come to this hall thinking that you are attending a fashion show, a drama or an opera, you may like to have your money back at the ticket office outside. I am not sure whether our judges have good fashion sense or whether they sing well, but what I know is that our judges have good sense of justice and they pronounce independent and sound judgments.

2. I have been reflecting on the purposes of the Opening of Legal Year ceremony and I come to realise that this ceremony serves a very important purpose of sending a strong message to our community that our judiciary is fiercely and totally independent and its integrity is beyond doubt. Our judges do discharge their duties in full accordance with the law, honestly and with integrity, safeguard the law and administer justice without fear or favour, self-interest or deceit. For that, they deserve our greatest respect.

3. Judicial independence is one of the fundamental core values in our civil society. It is also one of the fundamental attributes of a society which is governed by the Rule of Law. I can proudly say to the public, our community at large and our international community that our judiciary is totally independent. Our citizens must appreciate that our judges decide cases according to the Law, not according to any, I emphasise the word “any”, extrinsic factors, or “any” colour codes also known as political views nowadays. Baroness Hale recently warns against the UK from adopting a US style Supreme Court. I cannot agree more. This is the time to tell the public that politically our judiciary is colour-blind.

4. Nonetheless, our judiciary deserves our citizens’ protection when under unfair attacks. Of course, members of our profession have a non-delegable duty to defend our judges when they are unfairly attacked, but what is more important is that our citizens must appreciate that it is equally their duties to defend our judiciary. Some may not like the outcome of the decisions of judges. We have appellate bodies. Rational and healthy criticisms are welcome. But any unfair and unfounded attacks purely according to outcomes and political views cannot be tolerated. On 4 July 2018, the Law Society and the Bar Association jointly issued a statement and I quote:-
“The Law Society of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Bar Association urge members of the public to express their views in a manner conducive to rational debate. Personal attacks on judges have no place in rational discourse and debate that is a hallmark of a civil society.”

5. More recently, on 2 January 2020, the Law Society of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Bar Association had to issue yet another public statement and I quote:
“Any attempt to insult, threaten and bring public pressure on a judge because of decisions made in the course of performing judicial duties is to be deplored as an affront to the rule of law and judicial integrity.”

6. In Hong Kong, we are fortunate to have a sound legal system and an independent judiciary for our practitioners to deliver their professional services. It is our duty to defend our valued system and its reputation.

Obedience of the Law

7. Distinguished speakers have spoken time and again on the importance of the Rule of Law, I should not repeat the same save that I would like to point out an obvious fallacy that one can uphold the Rule of Law without obedience of the Law.

8. It might seem trite that obedience of the Law is non-negotiable and uncompromisable. Arson and injuries to persons can hardly be justified on whatever political basis. Another fundamental core value in our community is respect of others’ personal and property rights. With utmost respect, civil disobedience is no licence to arson, damage to citizens’ properties and injuries to persons. Lest it be forgotten that obedience of the Law, safeguard of the Law are not only our duties, but our core values unless we want to resort to some medieval methods of dispute resolution, for example, trial by combat. Every willful disobedience of the Law is an erosion on our Rule of Law. I do not subscribe to the view that the Rule of Law will not be affected if those who committed arson and injuries to persons are willing and would eventually pay the price by going to prison. Humanity dictates however strong we may disagree with others’ political views, in a civilized society, we cannot resort to violence to silence different views.

Openness and Internationalism

9. Hong Kong is a small city but it is big enough to embrace different views and values. Madame Roland, a French revolutionary, once famously said “O freedom, O freedom, what crimes are committed in your name!” Basic human decency dictates that we cannot persecute others simply because they take a different political view. We must be guarded against the ironical trap of infringing others’ freedom in the pursuit of our own freedom.

10. Hong Kong is still a most open and free society. Hong Kong consistently ranked number one in the Index of Economic Freedom by the Heritage Foundation. In terms of legal services, Hong Kong’s legal market, in particular, the solicitors’ stream, is extremely open and international. We warmly welcome foreign law firms to set up their offices in Hong Kong. As at the end of 2019, we have 91 registered foreign law firms and 1,688 foreign lawyers from 33 jurisdictions. 106 overseas lawyers were admitted in 2018 as Hong Kong solicitors through passing the Overseas Lawyers Qualification Examination. Hong Kong is designated to be an international legal hub in our region. I am confident that with the quality and integrity of our professional members, the Judiciary and the legal community, Hong Kong will meet its challenges and continue to contribute to humanity by being a passionate and yet rational society.

11. In the beginning of the year 2020, I would like to take the opportunity to wish you all have a 2020 vision for all your endeavours and a very prosperous and healthy new year. Thank you!

發表意見