The Dean of the Faculty of Law, Timothy Endicott, gave a lecture to the Hong Kong Bar Association on March 20, at the invitation of the Chair, Mr Paul Shieh SC. A lively discussion followed, moderated by Denis Change SC. Professor Endicott spoke on 'Judges and Basic Laws in Europe and Hong Kong". Jeremy Bentham's account of the rule of law included the proposition that judges should not interpret the law, on the ground that the result is arbitrary decision making. Bentham advocated a scheme of references to the legislature on matters of interpretation, and Professor Endicott asked whether Bentham's account shows that the Hong Kong Basic Law, by vesting the power of constitutional interpretation in the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, has met the requirements of the rule of law. His conclusion was that the Hong Kong judges actually engage significantly in creative interpretation of the law, and that the NPC Standing Committee has not used its power in a way that curbs judicial interpretation of the law. He also argued that judicial creativity in matters of interpretation can be compatible with the rule of law, and that Bentham's opposition to judicial creativity was excessively doctrinaire.
Timothy Endicott Denis Chang SC and Timothy Endicott