Annual Lecture 2009: Introductory Address
The Honourable the Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong

1. Good evening, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. Tonight, we are honoured to have with us the Honourable Chief Justice Andrew Li, Chief Justice of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, to deliver the 16th Singapore Academy of Law Annual Lecture.

2. Chief Justice Li was born in 1948 in Hong Kong. He received his early education at St Paul's Co-educational College, and then at Repton School in Derbyshire, England. From a young age, Chief Justice Li aspired to be a barrister. However, after completing his A Levels at Repton School and before matriculating as a scholar at Fitzwilliam College at the University of Cambridge, he spent approximately nine months travelling the world and working as a journalist in the Far Eastern Economic Review where he wrote on Hong Kong affairs.

3. At the University of Cambridge, Chief Justice Li read law. He was called to the Bar of the Middle Temple in 1970 and the Hong Kong Bar in 1973. Practising in Hong Kong, he quickly established himself as an outstanding barrister and was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1988.

4. In 1991, Chief Justice Li was appointed as a Deputy Judge of the High Court of Hong Kong after having previously served as a Deputy Judge of the District Court of Hong Kong. His outstanding record of public service also includes appointments to the Executive Council of Hong Kong, the Inland Revenue Board of Review, the Lands Tribunal, the Securities Commission, the Law Reform Commission, the Standing Committee on Company Law Reform, the Banking Advisory Committee, and the Judicial Services Commission.

5. Chief Justice Li was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1992. He was subsequently made an Honorary Bencher of the Middle Temple in 1997 and an Honorary Fellow of Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge University, in 1999. He has also been conferred honorary degrees by the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, the Baptist University, the Open University of Hong Kong, the University of Hong Kong, Griffith University, the University of New South Wales, the University of Technology, Sydney, and the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

6. Chief Justice Li was appointed Chief Justice of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region – the first person to hold this position – on 1 July 1997 after the reversion of sovereignty over Hong Kong to the People’s Republic of China. In the Hong Kong order of precedence, he ranks only after the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. As Chief Justice of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Chief Justice Li is head of the Hong Kong judiciary and presides over sittings of the Court of Final Appeal.

7. On 10 September 1997, the Honourable Sir Ti-Liang Yang, who was the last Chief Justice of the Colony of Hong Kong, delivered the 10th Singapore Academy of Law Annual Lecture entitled “Hong Kong in 2002”. I have re-read the speech but I cannot find the reason why the year 2002 is in the title. Perhaps this was a printing error, because Sir Ti-Liang did say this in his lecture:

It seems logical that in the year 2007, China will surely take her place amongst the strongest nations in the world, and Hong Kong cannot fail to benefit from being part of a powerful motherland.

8. That has come to pass. And tonight, 12 years later, we are privileged to hear a first hand account from Chief Justice Li on the development of the common law in Hong Kong under the “One Country, Two Systems” arrangement – a political arrangement that is unique in the history of sovereign states. For his contributions to the successful implementation of the new constitutional order of Hong Kong, Chief Justice Li was conferred Hong Kong’s highest honour, the Grand Bauhinia Medal, in 2008.

9. Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming the Honourable Chief Justice Andrew Li, Chief Justice of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.