Twilight of the Idolized: Hong Kong's Legal and Judicial Cultures under Stress

HK’s judges and lawyers have often been hailed as a source of resilience against encroachments on the rule of law. I argue this “idolized” expectation has been misplaced. Actions taken by Beijing have constrained or been perceived as valid constraints on the courts. The maturing of the Mainland legal services market, amongst other things, led to frequent socialization between lawyers of the two jurisdictions and increasing interactions between Beijing and Hong Kong’s legal professional bodies for promoting the latter’s involvement in the former’s economic initiatives. The judiciary’s traditional self-limiting outlook is likely to engender adjudicative deference in security matters. The traditional symbiotic relationship between the Bench and the Bar in defence of judicial independence is seen to be a defence of the judges–the creation of this perception brought reputational costs-particularly dear in current HK, where voices are fragmented into the reticent, progressive and radical.