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Introduction to Hong Kong Law Research: Home

This guides provides a list of major sources of Hong Kong along with some research tips on researching Hong Kong Law

Guide Outline

Home

  • Construct a Research Plan
  • A few words about language

Preparation: Consulting Legal Research Guides

  • Pathfinders & Guides
  • Hong Kong Legal System
  • Primary Sources of Hong Kong Law

Using Secondary Sources

  • Treatises
  • Law Review and Journal Articles 
  • Looseleaf Services

Locating Primary Sources

  • Constitution and Basic Law
  • Hong Kong Legislation
  • Case Law
  • Chinese Customary Law
  • International Agreements and Treaties

Other Useful Resources

  • Hong Kong Law Reform Commission
  • Hong Kong Legal Profession
  • Legal News and Blogs 

Citing

  • Citation Manuals

Introduction

This guide is intended to assist researchers who have little or no experience in researching Hong Kong Law.  The guide offers a brief introduction to Hong Kong Law and relevant key primary and secondary resources. 

It does not contain a comprehensive list of sources, nor does it offer sophisticated techniques for an advanced researcher of Hong Kong Law.

Construct a Research Plan

Just like researching in any area of law, researchers should start with constructing a research plan. A typical research plan would involve understanding facts, identifying pertinent issues, generating relevant keywords, and ascertaining primary sources of law.

The ultimate goal of a typical legal research process is to locate and ascertain relevant primary sources of law and apply them to particular factual situations. For more help on formulating a research plan, please see

 

A Few Words about Language

Generally speaking, language barrier is a huge obstacle for foreign legal research.  Language barrier may not be that significant in this case as Hong Kong is one of the few bilingual common law systems in the world. Under Article 9 of the Basic Law, "in addition to the Chinese language, English may also be used as an official language by the executive authorities, legislature and judiciary of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region." 

A recent case in 2010 reiterated the principle that "...the English and Chinese languages are the official languages of Hong Kong and they possess equal status and enjoy equality in use. Section 5 affords absolute power to a judge, magistrate or other judicial officer to decide to use either or both of the official languages in any proceedings or a part of the proceedings before him." See DBS Bank (Hong Kong) Ltd v Si Echinacea  [2010] 3 HKLRD 745, 748 (2010). Hong Kong government has been working hard to set up the bilingual legal system by many different ways such as translating the entire statutes in English to Chinese, creating bilingual legal information systems, drafting ordinances and subsidiary legislation in both Chinese and English.

On the other hand, in reality, English is still the predominant working language in the legal field of Hong Kong. See Kwai Hang Ng, Is There a Chinese Common Law? An Empirical Study of the Bilingual Common-Law System of Hong Kong, 8 J. Empir. L. Stud 118-46 (2011). In addition, the constitutional right to use Chinese as an official language in a court does not guarrantee the accused a constitutional right to be tried in Chinese. See Re Cheng Kai-nam Gary [2002-04] 10 HKPLR 89.

 

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