Court of Final Appeal – An Iconic Heritage Building

The Court of Final Appeal Building is a preserved historical monument and home of the Court of Final Appeal of Hong Kong. It housed the former Supreme Court from 1912 to 1983 and the Legislative Council from 1985 to 2011.

You are completely free to wander around the exterior of the building and you can also book internal tours of the building via their website.

Attractions Nearby the Court of Final Appeal

  • Landmark Prince’s (置地太子) – 6-floor shopping mall renowned for luxury goods
  • Landmark Atrium (置地廣場) – Large shopping center filled with international fashion brands & leading chain restaurants.
  • Landmark Charter (置地遮打) – shopping mall
  • The Galleria (嘉軒廣場) – boutique mall
  • Statue Square (皇后像廣場) – 19th-century public square with fountains, a war memorial & a statue of banker Sir Thomas Jackson.
  • Chater Garden (遮打花園) – an often welcomed greenspace

Hotels near The Court of Final Appeal

Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong – Overlooking Victoria Harbor, the five-star Mandarin Oriental offers elegant rooms with 37-inch flat-screen TV, 10 dining options including Michelin Star Pierre restaurant, a spa, and fitness center.

Building History

The building was designed by Sir Aston Webb and Ingress Bell, the British architects responsible for the eastern façade of Buckingham Palace and the Cromwell Road frontage of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

Construction of the Building started in 1900 and it was opened on 15 January 1912 by the Governor Sir Frederick Lugard. The two-storey granite building is neo-classical in style supported by Ionic columns. It is surmounted by a 2.7 m high blind-folded statue of Justice, represented by Themis, the Greek Goddess of Justice and Law. This statue is inspired by the one erected on the Old Bailey of London.

During the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong (December 1941 to August 1945), the building was used as the headquarters of the Kempeitai (Military Police).

In 1978, this building was severely affected by the construction of MTR; therefore, it had to undergo some restoration afterwards. As a consequence, for a time in the early 1980s, the Supreme Court was moved to the Former French Mission Building, which was then used by the Victoria District Court.

The building became the Legislative Council Building in 1985, and the Supreme Court was moved to the Supreme Court Building in Admiralty and was renamed the High Court Building in 1997.

In 2011 the Legislative Council was moved to the Legislative Council Complex within the Central Government Complex at Tamar site.

On 7 September 2015, the building reverted to its former judicial function. It is now housing the Court of Final Appeal. The opening ceremony was held on 25 September 2015 by the Chief Justice of the Court of Final Appeal Geoffrey Ma Tao-li.

Role of Court of Final Appeal

From the 1840s to 1 July 1997, Hong Kong was a British Dependent Territory, and the power of final adjudication on the laws of Hong Kong was vested in the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London. The power to exercise sovereignty over Hong Kong was transferred from the United Kingdom to the People’s Republic of China on 1 July 1997. Based on the one country, two systems principle, Hong Kong retains its a high degree of autonomy and maintains its own legal system. The Court of Final Appeal was established on 1 July 1997 in Central, Hong Kong. Since then, it has served as the court of last resort, thus administering the power of final adjudication on the laws of Hong Kong.

Under the Basic Law, the constitutional document of Hong Kong, the special administrative region remains a common-law jurisdiction. Judges from other common law jurisdictions can be recruited and serve in the judiciary as non-permanent judges according to Article 92 of the Basic Law. Judges appointed pursuant to Article 92 have served in the judiciaries of England and Wales, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada.

The court has the power of final adjudication with respect to the law of Hong Kong as well as the power of final interpretation over local laws including the power to strike down local ordinances on the grounds of inconsistency with the Basic Law. The power of final interpretation of national law including the Basic Law is vested in the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of China (NPCSC) by virtue of Article 158 of the Basic Law and by the Constitution of the PRC, however national laws which are not explicitly listed in Annex III of the Basic Law are not operative in Hong Kong.

Article 158 delegates such power to the courts of Hong Kong for interpretation while handling court cases. Although this arrangement has attracted criticism of “undermining judicial independence”, an interpretation by the NPCSC does not affect any court judgments already rendered. Controversy regarding this power of interpretation arose in the right of abode issue in 1999.

Source: Wikipedia

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  • Website: www.hkcfa.hk
  • EN Address: 8 Jackson Road, Central, Hong Kong Island
  • Getting There: MTR Central Station, Exit J1. Walk along Jackson Road for around two minutes.

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