chapter  8
32 Pages

Administrative law, politics and governance: The Hong Kong experience

ByJOHANNES CHAN

Judicial review of administrative actions was almost unheard of in Hong Kong before 1950. Even as late as 1988, there were only 29 applications for judicial review.1 The number of applications then rose exponentially after 1990. In the last few years, the number remains at about 150 applications per year. An overwhelming number of these applications are directed at the Government (as opposed to other public bodies).2 These applications cover virtually every aspect of governance including immigration policy, such as the establishment of an appeal tribunal over the exercise of discretion of the Director of Immigration,3

levy on foreign domestic helpers;4 housing policy, such as public housing rental policy5 and privatization of commercial utilities in public housing estates;6

telecommunication issues, such as interconnection charges between fixed and mobile telecommunication networks;7 environmental policy issues, such as the scope of the power of the Director of Environmental Protection to approve an environmental assessment report submitted by the Airport Authority,8 the appropriateness of the criteria on audibility adopted in a noise abatement notice,9

and harbour reclamation;10 public employment policy such as civil servants’ pay cut,11 localization policy,12 and the validity of a scheme governing the minimum in-flight rest period for cabin staff on ultra long-range flights;13 town planning,14 political structure;15 and education policy such as allocation of primary school locations,16 criteria for operating primary first-year classes at governmentaided schools,17 and school-basedmanagement for government-aided religion-run schools.18