The Secretary for Justice heads the Department of Justice, and is the
Chief Executive's legal adviser and a member of the Executive Council.
The Secretary for Justice chairs the Law Reform Commission and the Committee
on Bilingual Legal System, and is also a member of the Judicial Officers
Recommendation Commission and the Operations Review Committee of the Independent
Commission Against Corruption.
The Secretary for Justice is the representative of
the HKSAR Government in all actions brought by, or against, it and is
also responsible for the drafting of all government legislation.
The Secretary for Justice is responsible for all
prosecutions in the HKSAR, with responsibility for deciding whether a
prosecution should be instituted in any particular case, and, if so, for
instituting and conducting the prosecution.
The Department of Justice provides legal advice to
all government departments and bureaux. The department consists of the
Secretary for Justice's Office and six divisions, five of which are each
headed by a Law Officer to whom the Secretary for Justice delegates certain
powers and responsibilities. The remaining division, headed by the Director
of Administration and Development, handles departmental administration.
The Secretary for Justice's Office provides legal and administrative support
to the Secretary for Justice in respect of her many functions.
The Civil Division, headed by the Law Officer (Civil
Law), provides legal advice to the Government on civil law, drafts commercial
contracts and franchises and conducts civil litigation, arbitration and
mediation, on behalf of the Government. The division also provides counsel
to the Market Misconduct Tribunal.
The International Law Division, headed by the Law
Officer (International Law), advises the Government on issues relating
to public international law. Lawyers in this division also participate
in the negotiation of agreements and arrangements with other jurisdictions
and, as members of the Chinese delegation, at the Hague Conference on
Private International Law. The division also handles requests to and from
the HKSAR for international legal cooperation.
The Law Drafting Division, headed by the Law Draftsman,
is responsible for drafting all legislation, including subsidiary legislation,
in Chinese and English, and assists in steering legislation through the
Executive and Legislative Councils. It is also responsible for compiling
the loose-leaf edition of the Laws of Hong Kong and for maintaining the
computer database of Hong Kong's legislation known as the Bilingual Laws
Information System (BLIS), which is freely available on the Internet.
The Solicitor General heads the Legal Policy Division,
which includes the Law Reform Commission Secretariat. The division provides
legal input — with emphasis on legal policy values — on a wide variety
of topics being considered by the Government, and also advises on issues
affecting the administration of justice, human rights, constitutional
law, China law and the Basic Law.
The Prosecutions Division is headed by the Director
of Public Prosecutions. Counsel from this division conduct most criminal
appeals, including those to the Court of Final Appeal. They also conduct
the majority of trials in the Court of First Instance and the District
Court and, when necessary, they prosecute in the Magistrates' Court. The
division also provides legal advice to law enforcement agencies and other
In order to enhance civil servants' understanding
of the Basic Law, the Civil Service Training and Development Institute
(CSTDI) has been organising regular seminars on the subject since 1995.
Besides university lecturers and officers from relevant government departments,
counsel of the Department of Justice have also been invited to be speakers
in these seminars. Specific training courses for particular bureaux and
departments are arranged as necessary. The Basic Law is also covered in
the curriculum of some China studies courses organised by the institute,
such as the foundation course taught at the Tsinghua University in Beijing.
Since 2001, the Legal Policy Division and the CSTDI
have co-published the Basic Law Bulletin on a regular basis in
order to promote greater awareness and knowledge of the Basic Law among
civil servants. In 2002, the department assisted the institute in the
production of a new Basic Law web course as well as in the organisation
of various Basic Law promotional activities.