PCLL Conversion Notes  PCLL Conversion Notes - HK Constitutional Law

What's in the Hong Kong Constitutional Law Notes & Model Exam Answers (Past Paper Answers)?

Our Hong Kong Constitutional Law Notes & Model Exam Answers (Past Paper Answers) will provide you with a clear and complete synthesis of the most important points you need for your Hong Kong Constitutional Law PCLL Conversion exam. The table of contents of our Hong Kong Constitutional Law Notes & Model Exam Answers (Past Paper Answers) is shown below.

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Table of Contents for Hong Kong Constitutional Law Notes

1.   Introduction.. 5

A.    How to use Conversion Notes. 5

B.    Abbreviations. 5


A.    Basis of British Jurisdiction in HK, the Assumption and Exercise of British Authority. 6

B.    The Unequal Treaties. 6

C.    The Colonial Constitution and the System of Government 7

D.   Human rights in the colonial constitution.. 7

E.    Political Reform in the 50s. 7

F.     Development of the Administrative System... 7

G.    Development of Representative government 7


A.    Introduction.. 8

B.    Sovereignty and Self-Determination.. 8

i.          China’s position on self-determination. 8

ii.         Self determination and the United Nations. 8

C.    Sino-British Negotiation and the JD 1984. 8

D.   Drafting of the HK Basic Law (BL) 9

E.    Residual powers. 9

F.     Scope of Application of the Chinese Constitution.. 9

G.    Structure of the HK Basic Law.. 10

H.   Transitional Issues. 10

I.      Patten’s Political Reforms in the 90s – LegCo.. 11

J.     Breakdown of the Through Train model 11

K.    Provisional Legislative Council and its Legality. 11


A.    Models of Autonomy. 12

B.    Nature and Scope of Autonomy (as per the Declaration) 12

C.    Nature and Scope of Autonomy (as per the Basic Law) 12

D.   The Distinct Nature of the Basic Law.. 13

E.    Objectives of Basic Law - General Principles. 14

F.     Duration of HKSAR – 50 years?. 14

G.    Relationship between Central Government and the HKSAR.. 14

i.          As per the Declaration. 14

ii.         As per the Basic Law.. 15

iii.        Other powers of the HKSAR and NPC. 15

iv.        Some Contentious Issues in the balance of power 15

v.         Status of Residual Power: which entity owns power not expressly dealt with?. 15


A.    The Political Structure - Introduction.. 16

i.          China’s Point of View.. 16

ii.         British Ruling in the Past 16

B.    Basic Principles – The Franchise. 16

i.          General Rights in Franchise. 16

ii.         Bill Of Rights Ordinance. 16

iii.        ICCPR. 16

iv.        Functional Constituency. 16

C.    Forms of Representation.. 17

i.          Election to the National People’s Congress (NPC) 17

ii.         Election/appointment of the Chief Executive. 17

iii.        Election to Leg Co. 17

D.   Centralized and Consultative Government 17

E.    Separation of Powers or Executive-led Government?. 17

i.          Judiciary. 17

ii.         Check and Balances in Basic Law.. 17

F.     The Rule of Law.. 18

G.    Election of the Legislative Council – Composition - Functional Constituencies. 18

i.          President of the Legislative Council 18

ii.         Elections. 18

iii.        Changing the method for electing LegCo – no changes for 2008 LegCo elections. 18

H.   Break down of ‘through train model’ and the formation of the Provisional LegCo.. 19

I.      Legislative Council – Powers and Functions. 19

J.     Law making process (separation of powers – legislature vs executive) 20

i.          Legislature vs Executive (checks and balances) 20

K.    Supervision of Executive and Parliamentary Enquiry. 20

L.     Public Finance (method for legislature to ‘check’ executive action) 20

M.  Executive Government of the HKSAR and the Chief Executive in Council 21

i.          Public Service. 21

N.   The Chief Executive. 21

O.   Changes to method for selecting the Chief Executive. 22

P.    Impeachment of the Chief Executive. 22

Q.   Objective of the Political System... 22

R.    Contradictions in the Political System... 23

i.          Argument that HK’s political system is dysfunctional, perhaps because of the separation of powers between legislative and executive. 23

ii.         Argument that concerns about the executive government’s weakness is exaggerated. 23

iii.        “Slowing Down” VS “Political development” 23

iv.        “Business Community” VS “CA” 23

v.         “Executive-led government” 23

vi.        China Intervention. 24

vii.       Xinhua. 24

S.    Neutrality of the Civil Service and the Ministerial System... 24

T.    Language of the Legal System... 25

U.    Relationship with Chinese Legal System... 25


A.    Parliamentary sovereignty and its application to the HKSAR  – judicial review.. 25

B.    Acts of State and Facts of State. 26

i.          Acts of State. 26

ii.         Acts of States. 27

iii.        Scope of ‘acts of state’ under the Basic Law.. 27

C.    Judicial Review of HKSAR Legislation.. 27

i.          Argument that HK courts have NO power to review HKSAR legislation. 27

ii.         Argument that HK courts have power to review HKSAR legislation. 27

iii.        Judicial Review: Power to review laws and policies for conformity with Basic Law (Art.80) 28

1)       What are the limitations on Court’s power to judge?. 28

2)       Judicial Immunity. 28

D.   Resolutions of the NPCSC.. 28


A.    Scheme of Amendments to the Basic Law.. 29

B.    The importance of Interpretation and Mode of interpretation.. 29

i.          Situation 1: Dealing with inconsistency of Basic Law with previous law (Art. 158) 29

ii.         Situation 2: Returning of Law passed by HKSAR Legislature (Art.17) 30

iii.        Situation 3: Application of national Law in HKSAR. 30

iv.        Situation 4: Amendment of Basic Law.. 30

v.         Situation 5: In the course of litigation. 30

C.    Scheme for interpretation under Art 158. 30

i.          NPCSC’s Powers of interpretation under the Basic Law.. 31

D.   Seeking interpretation from NPC – Judicial referral, classification test, and necessity test 31

i.          Ng Ka Ling v Director of Immigration [1999] 1 HKC 291 . 32

ii.         The current position - Vallejos & Anor v Commissioner of Registration & Anor- [2013] 4 HKC 239.. 33

E.    Problems arising under Art 158. 32

i.          Difficulty 1: Availability of two traditions for interpretation. 32

ii.         Difficulty 2: Applicability of PRC constitution in HK and its relationship with Basic Law.. 33

iii.        Difficulty 3: Relationship between the Basic Law and Other National Laws. 33

iv.        Difficulty 4: Influence of Foreign Treaties. 33

F.     Legislative interpretation vs Judicial interpretation.. 33

G.    Judgment previously rendered shall not be affected.. 34

H.   Role of the Basic Law Committee. 34

I.      Principles of and Approach to interpretation.. 34


A.    General Framework for the Protection of Rights and Freedoms. 35

B.    Ch 3 of the HK Basic Law.. 35

C.    BOR, ICCPR, ICESCR and ILO.. 36

i.          International Sources of Rights (implemented through Art.39) 36

ii.         The Legal Basis for Application of These Treaties (Art.39) 36

iii.        Domestic Sources of Rights. 36

D.   Is the Bill Of Rights Ordinance compatible with the Basic Law?. 37

E.    Civil and Political Rights. 37

i.          Freedom of Association. 37

F.     Economic rights and property rights. 38

G.    Social and cultural rights and policies. 38

H.   Lawful traditional rights & interests of the NT Indigenous Inhabitants. 38

I.      Limitations or restrictions on rights and freedoms. 38

i.          Rights in Basic Law which are listed in ICCPR. 39

ii.         Rights in Basic Law only and are not listed in ICCPR (Gurung Kesh Bahadur v Immigration 2001) 40

J.     State of Emergency under Art 18(4) – NPC can effectively restrict all rights?. 40

K.    Restrictions under Art 23. 40

i.          Relationship between Art.23 and Art.39. 40


A.    Chinese view of International Law.. 40

B.    External Affairs power of the HKSAR - Foreign affairs vs external affairs. 41

i.          Scope of authority under Art 151 unclear, ‘appropriate fields’ not defined – look at Basic Law.. 41

ii.         External affairs- different aspects of autonomy of HK. 41

C.    Role and problems of HKSAR in international legal regime. 41

i.          Problem 1: Scope of external affairs powers- Difficult to determine: 41

ii.         Problem 2: lack of measures for resolving conflicts of power 42

iii.        Problem 3: Legal effect of treaties. 42

iv.        Problem 4: HK’s status in PRC treaties. 42

v.         Problem 5: Membership in international organizations. 42

D.   Succession of rights and obligations in international treaties applicable to HK before 1997. 42


A.    Theory of socialist constitution.. 43

i.          Comparison of Liberal and Socialist Theories. 43

B.    Brief history of Chinese constitutional system... 43

C.    The PRC constitution.. 43

i.          The Economic System of the PRC. 43

ii.         The Political System of the PRC. 43

D.   Central Authorities of the PRC (NPC, NPCSC, State Council, Central Military Commission) 44

i.          NPC. 44

ii.         NPCSC. 44

iii.        State Council (The Government of the PRC) 44

iv.        Central Military Commission (direct armed forces) 44

E.    Role and Organisation of the Communist Party. 44

F.     SARs under Art 31. 45

G.    Rights and Obligations of the Citizen. 45

H.    Sources of Law (Legislative Interpretation, Judicial Interpretation and Executive Interpretation). 45

H.   The judiciary, the Public Security Bureau & the Procuratorate. 45

I.      Review of the Judiciary. 45

J.     A Developing Constitution.. 46

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