Chinese Customary Law in Hong Kong

The Constitutional Foundations of Customary Law in Hong Kong

Friday, 20 March 2015
12:30 pm – 2:00 pm

The Warren Chan Moot Court, CUHK Graduate Law Centre
2/F, Bank of America Tower
Central, Hong Kong 

Conducted in English


Professor Eric C. Ip

Assistant Professor, Faculty of Law, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Mr. Colin Leung

Barrister, Harcourt Chambers

Conducted in English


Customary law in Hong Kong refers not to the established social norms of the contemporary local community but primarily to the customary law of the ethnic Chinese domiciled in Hong Kong, which has been a cognised part of the law of the former Crown Colony since the arrival of Captain Charles Elliot in 1841, as it had existed prior to the cession. A relic of a distant past, it has nonetheless survived if not thrived in certain areas and domains in this Anglicised and internationalised jurisdiction notwithstanding the resumption of sovereignty by the People’s Republic of China, whose official state ideology rejects almost every precept of ”feudal“ customs. This seminar examines, compares and contrasts the constitutional status of Hong Kong’s Chinese customary law before and after the 1997 Handover. It also addresses important questions such as the compatibility of customary law with the Basic Law and the Bill of Rights, the implications of customary law on the rule of law, and the extent to which the statutory and common law abolition of customary law norms is constitutionally permissible.

Eric C. Ip is Assistant Dean (Undergraduate Studies) and Assistant Professor of Law at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) Faculty of Law. Ip’s research focusses on questions of institutional design in comparative public law. His work has appeared in The American Journal of Comparative Law, Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, International Journal of Constitutional Law, and European Journal of Law and Economics. Ip is the author of Law and Justice in Hong Kong (Sweet & Maxwell 2014). Prior to joining CUHK in 2012, he taught at the School of Public Policy, University College London (UCL), and had academic affiliations with the United Nations University Institute on Comparative Regional Integration Studies and St. John’s College, The University of Hong Kong. Ip earned his doctorate in law from the University of Oxford.

Colin Leung is a barrister with a broad practice in all areas of civil and criminal litigation.  He has represented clients over a spectrum of cases including contractual and commercial disputes, land disputes in the New Territories, defamation, building management disputes, personal injuries, company and shareholder disputes.  In respect of his criminal practice, Colin takes on both private defence works and instructions to prosecute from Department of Justice. Before reading law, Colin had worked as a software consultant and engineer at Silicon Valley in the Bay Area of California, USA and specialized in database application for more than 10 years.  He is also the CEDR accredited mediator and has mediated over a variety of commercial and building management cases. Colin Leung provided a practitioner’s perspective on “Utilizing Expert Witnesses in the Context of Chinese Customary Law”.

The Hong Kong Law Society has awarded this seminar 1.5 Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points.

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