Public Lecture on “Equality” by The Honorable Mr. Justice Syed Kemal Shah Bokhary, GBM
In memory of the late Mr. Vincent Connor

Public Lecture on “Equality” by The Honorable Mr. Justice Syed Kemal Shah Bokhary, GBM
In memory of the late Mr. Vincent Connor

Jointly organized by CUHK LAW and the Hong Kong Student Law Gazette, this lecture is delivered in memory of the late Mr. Vincent Connor, a distinguished lawyer and devoted member of the CUHK LAW Advisory Board. Mr. Connor won the abiding affection and respect of all who served with him. The topic of this lecture, “Equality” is a fitting theme when paying tribute to a good man who made the law his life’s work. For the cases show the law is at its best when delivering equality and at the opposite end of the spectrum when it fails to do so.


Cases show the law at its best when protecting equality, at its worse otherwise. Equality is universally the bedrock of human rights, natural law, customary and treaty international law and constitutions. Constitutional provisions are of structure and rights. Suffrage is equal if universal. Legislative apportionment goes to structural equality. Natural law views can be commended to legal positivists. Widespread acceptance may have made the Universal Declaration of Human Rights binding as customary international law. Anyway, it binds via the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (“ICCPR”) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (“ICESCR”). Domesticated as our Bill of Rights, the ICCPR is entrenched by art 39 of the Basic Law. Non-domestication of the ICESCR creates rule of law concerns and inequality here between these Covenants. But Basic Law rights include many socio-economic ones. And the ICESCR aids interpretation of socio-economic legislation. Constitutions typically guarantee equality. Save as differentiation is needed, equality demands identical treatment. Stereotyping spawns discrimination. Affirmative action is often necessary. Universal design enables persons with, and without, disabilities to share equally. Selective placement services benefit employers and employees alike. Sometimes inequality is piled upon inequality. Shortfalls in respect for otherness remain to be redressed. Equality in exercising the divine mandate to inhabit the earth needs work in this world of nation states. Struggles for equality continue. Justice is a long road.

The Sunnah
British Constitution
United States Constitution
Australian Constitution
Constitution of Pakistan
Hong Kong Letters Patent
Hong Kong Royal Instructions
Basic Law of Hong Kong
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
Convention on the Rights of the Child
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women
Calvin’s Case (1608) 7 Co Rep 1a (Exchequer Chamber)
Somersett’s Case (1772) 20 State Trials 1 (Court of King’s Bench)
Ogden v Saunders 25 US 213 (1827) (United States Supreme Court)
R v Woolley (1850) 4 Cox’s CC 193 (Court for Crown Cases Reserved)
The Dred Scott Case 60 US 393 (1857) (United States Supreme Court)
Plessy v Ferguson 163 US 537 (1896) (United States Supreme Court)
Ex parte Sacksteder [1918] 1 KB 578 (English Court of Appeal)
Brown v Board of Education 347 US 483 (1954) (United States Supreme Court)
Federation of Pakistan v Moulvi Tamizuddin Khan PLD 1955 Federal Court 240 (Federal Court of Pakistan)
Baker v Carr 369 US 186 (1962) (United States Supreme Court)
The South West Africa Cases (Second Phase) (1966) ICJ Rep 6 (International Court of Justice)
Shirin Munir v Government of Punjab PLD 1990 SC 295 (Supreme Court of Pakistan)
R v Man Wai Keung (No 2) [1992] 2 HKCLR 207 (Hong Kong Court of Appeal)
The Nocturnal Employment Case (1992) 85 BVerfGE 191 (German Constitutional Court)
Leeth v The Commonwealth (1992) 174 CLR 455 (High Court of Australia)
Locabail (UK) Ltd v Bayfield Properties Ltd [2000] KB 451 (English Court of Appeal)
Tam Nga Yin v Director of Immigration (2001) 4 HKCFAR 251 (Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal)
Ghaidan v Godin-Mendoza [2004] 2 AC 557 (House of Lords)
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The Fireworks Factory Case (15 July 2020) (Inter-American Court of Human Rights)
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Baroness Kennedy QC: Just Law (Vintage, 2005)
Yuko Kawai: “Stereotyping Asian Americans: The Dialectic of the Model Minority and the Yellow Peril” (2005) 16(2) Howard Journal of Communications 109.
Lord Bingham, “The Rule of Law” (2007) 66 Cambridge Law Journal 67
Human Rights, Southern Voices (William Twining, 2019) (Cambridge University Press, 2009)
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Kemal Bokhary and Zane Heady: The Constitutional Crocodile (Sweet & Maxwell, 2021)
Group Areas Act 1950 (Union of South Africa)
“South China Morning Post”, 22 November 2021

About the Speaker:

The Honorable Mr. Justice Syed Kemal Shah Bokhary, GBM

The Law Society of Hong Kong has awarded this lecture 1 Continuing Professional Development (CPD) point.


22 Feb 2022


5:00 pm - 6:00 pm