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Club Lunch: No Preferred Outcomes – Hong Kong and the Rule of Law

Date: 5 Mar 2018 12:30 PM | Venue:


No Preferred Outcomes –
Hong Kong and the Rule of Law

Philip Dykes
Chairman, the Hong Kong Bar Association
Monday, March 5, 2018
12:30pm for 12:45pm – Lunch
1:15pm – Address
1st Floor

Samuel Alito, a current US Supreme Court Justice, gave a useful description of the rule in law in action when he said ‘A judge can’t have any preferred outcome in any particular case. The judge’s only obligation-and it is a solemn obligation-is to the rule of law.’ The rule of law is all about difficult decision-making. It compels hard choices for judges; it requires law-makers to legislate for those whom they would rather not extend benefits or protect; it requires governments to be open and accountable when they would prefer to be close and remote. The rule of law is far more than the impartial application of legal rules to achieve a result affecting rights and obligations. This talk is about the substance of laws that are needed before a society that can say that it is governed by the rule of law and not by rule of man. This talk is about the application of the rule of law in Hong Kong today and the danger of seeking ‘preferred outcomes’.


Philip Dykes called to the Bar in 1977 and practised on the Northern Circuit from the chambers of H.K. Goddard Q.C. in Manchester. He came to Hong Kong in 1985 and joined the Attorney General’s Chambers. Between 1989 and 1991 he was an Assistant Solicitor General with special responsibilities for human rights and constitutional affairs. He left government service in 1991. He took silk in 1997. He has served in the Hong Kong Bar Council for a number of years and was elected Vice-Chairman in 1999, 2000, 2003 & 2004 and Chairman in 2005 and 2006. He was elected Chairman for the third time in January 2018 in a hotly contested election.


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