Articles: Basic Law

Court dismisses challenge to SFC's power of issuing restriction noticesJudgment
SFC, 28-Sep-2022
This relates to an investigation into an alleged pump-and-dump scheme in shares of WMCH Global (8208), which crashed 92% on 26-Nov-2020. The applicants had earlier succeeded in a judicial review of Police "letters of no consent" to "informally" freeze bank accounts. This time, the same judge, Russell Coleman, upheld the SFC's powers.
HK is running out of time to re-join the World
As our Editor sits in the air-lock waiting to re-enter HK, he looks at the now-unconstitutional quarantine regulations and the harm they are doing to HK. (5-May-2022)
Tam Sze Leung & others v Commissioner of Police
HK Court of First Instance, 30-Dec-2021
Justice Russell Coleman finds that the issue of "letters of no consent" by the Police to "informally" freeze bank funds of persons under investigation is ultra vires and unconstitutional. The proceedings reveal that the SFC is investigating the applicants for suspected stock market manipulation in a pump-and-dump scheme between 2018 and 2020. The SFC referred a suspicion of money-laundering to the Police, which then asked 3 banks to file Suspicious Transaction Reports in order to trigger LNCs. The tail was wagging the dog.
HK residents revolt against Covid-19 quarantine campReg 599A s2
Bloomberg, 7-May-2021
The residents are revolting! Good to see, as we have said, they probably don't fit the legal definition of "contacts" under Reg. 599A, namely that they are "likely" to have been exposed to risk of infection. Even less so in larger buildings like Tower 11 of Caribbean Coast, where 1027 residents were evacuated.
How to end HK's border lockdown
HK's economic recovery depends on fully re-opening its borders, but it can't when so few have been vaccinated. With near-zero COVID, we must use other vaccination incentives. We propose a 4-pronged solution, including a VacciLottery and an inbound travel exemption. (27-Apr-2021)
HK's inbound quarantine laws: dangerous, irrational and unconstitutional
We put our microscope on HK's inbound quarantine laws and find that the 21-day length of quarantine actually increases the risk to the community, Further, the ban on arrivals from 4 countries is irrational. Both fail to satisfy constitutional tests of proportionality. (16-Mar-2021)
HK investor says city is facing brain drain
Bloomberg, 2-Jun-2020
Leslie Grant Horsfield & family v CE of HKSAR
HK Court of First Instance, 22-May-2020
The applicants, HK Permanent Residents arriving from South Africa, unsuccessfully seek release from inbound quarantine.
Syed Agha Raza Shah v Director of Health
HK Court of First Instance, 13-May-2020
The applicant, a HK Permanent Resident returning from Pakistan, fails to obtain release from government quarantine to serve home quarantine instead, an option afforded to arrivals from certain other countries with high rates of COVID-19 infection.
COVID-19: where do we go from here?
HK is essentially clean: data indicate the latest community transmission was 24 days ago. A potential travel network of clean quarantined countries is emerging, but many others are pursuing a mitigation approach, flattening the curve but leading to the likely premature death of 0.5% of their populations unless interrupted by a vaccine or treatment. We find lessons to be learned from HK's early mistakes. HK should maintain its quarantine and its people should now be free to enjoy their city. (27-Apr-2020)
CPG interference: HK's Ministry of Truth on Article 22
In an act straight out of George Orwell's 1984, the HK Govt's news agency has been caught modifying and backdating a press release to comply with the Central People's Government's Liaison Office view that it is not a CPG department and not subject to Article 22 of the Basic Law. It actually makes no difference: if the CPG itself interferes in matters which are within HK's autonomy under the Basic Law, then it undermines "Two Systems". (20-Apr-2020)
Hong Kong judges battle Beijing over rule of law as pandemic chills protestsStatement by Chief Justice
Reuters, 14-Apr-2020
In our view, the subsequent statement by the Chief Justice is not inconsistent with the article.
24 legislators v CE in Council & others
HK Court of Appeal, 9-Apr-2020
The CA overturns the CFI and rules that the Emergency Regulations Ordinance is constitutional. It also rules that the anti-mask regulation made under the ERO is constitutional for unauthorized assemblies, but it upholds the CFI's ruling that the regulation is unconstitutional in the case of authorized meetings and marches. We expect both sides to go to the Court of Final Appeal.
Getting to 601: How Beijing controls the HK Chief Executive election
Carrie Lam continues to peddle the lie that the Chief Executive Election Committee is "broadly representative", often unchallenged by foreign media. We explain exactly how it is rigged, and how with enough political courage, she could unrig it and introduce democracy through local legislation, without Beijing's approval. (28-Jan-2020)
Your right to insult the national anthem
The HK Government is preparing to ignite fresh protests by resuming the Second Reading of the Bill, which must occur by July, or the bill lapses. Last night, it ridiculously claimed that the Bill is not a restriction of free speech. Of course it is. The only question is whether that is constitutional. (11-Jan-2020)
24 legislators v CE in Council & others
HK Court of Appeal, 10-Dec-2019
The court refuses the Government's applications for a Temporary Validity Order for the anti-mask law or a Temporary Suspension Order of the Court of First Instance judgment that the ERO (in cases of public danger) and most of the PFCR (even if passed by LegCo) are unconstitutional. The substantive appeal will be heard on 9-10 January 2020.
Webb on the protests and how HK can democratise without NPCSC approval
Bloomberg, 9-Dec-2019
24 legislators v CE in Council & others
HK Court of First Instance, 22-Nov-2019
The judges decline to grant a Temporary Validity Order or a Suspension Order, but grant A 7-day interim suspension order to give time for the respondents to apply to the Court of Appeal for interim relief.
Webb interviewed in CUHK student magazine (in Chinese)
U-Beat Magazine, 20-Nov-2019
Statement on comments by LAC of NPCSC
HK Bar Association, 19-Nov-2019
The autonomy of HK Courts promised by the Basic Law is under attack from Beijing and its local delegates. The Bar Association is fighting back.
'Only Beijing can rule on HK's Basic Law'Basic Law A158
RTHK, 19-Nov-2019
Simply untrue. BL A158 states "The [NPCSC] shall authorize the courts of the [HKSAR] to interpret on their own, in adjudicating cases, the provisions of this Law which are within the limits of the autonomy of the Region". Sure, the NPCSC can override with its own "interpretation", but doing so would again undermine HK's purported autonomy under "Two Systems".
24 legislators v CE in Council & others
HK Court of First Instance, 18-Nov-2019
Justices Anderson Chow and Godfrey Lam rule that the Emergency Regulations Ordinance, in cases of public danger, is unconstitutional; the CE cannot bypass LegCo and make laws on her own. They also rule that the anti-mask law, even if passed by LegCo, would be unconstitutional except for the subsection outlawing masks in unlawful assemblies.
Judge takes aim at comments by Vice Premier
In continuing the injunction against doxxing with an exception for legitimate news activity, Justice Russell Coleman makes interesting comments on the role of the judiciary and the need for a political solution to the social unrest, which is beyond the scope of the courts. (11-Nov-2019)
Central govt plans to 'improve' CE election system
RTHK, 1-Nov-2019
Good. Start by replacing corporate voting with one vote per job, then reallocate the Election Committee sub-sector seats proportionate to registered voters. Voila - a democratic committee! All doable in HK law, no need for NPCSC approval. Do the same for LegCo Functional Constituencies. Or by "improve" do you mean "tighten control over"?
HKEX's Li apologizes after remarks on China and HK
Bloomberg, 1-Nov-2019
To whom? He now says the design of One Country Two Systems is perfect, and it's only a problem of implementation. A bit like the Titanic then.
HKEX chief says China's lack of trust hurt HK experiment
Bloomberg, 31-Oct-2019
House of Lords debate on HKTranscript
House of Lords, 24-Oct-2019
Empress Carrie Lam off to Naruhito's enthronement
HK Government, 20-Oct-2019
Under Basic law Article 13, foreign affairs are a matter for the Chinese Government. Still, with the recent Emergency Regulations she has been behaving somewhat like an absolute ruler.
MK v HKSAR Government
HK Court of First Instance, 18-Oct-2019
Justice Anderson Chow rules that the denial of same-sex marriage under HK law is not unconstitutional, nor is the lack of an alternative framework for recognition of same-sex relationships. However, he calls on the Government to undertake a comprehensive review of its policies and laws to avoid ongoing challenges on discrimination or other grounds. He also notes that "it is open to the legislature to recognise and provide for same-sex marriage by legislation if it chooses to do so".
ERO: one judicial review, two judges
Webb-site has learned that in a very rare move, the Chief Justice has directed that 2 judges sit together in the Court of First Instance to hear the judicial review of the Chief Executive's use of the Emergency Regulations Ordinance. (16-Oct-2019)
A report of the 2019 HK protests
Asian Affairs, 14-Oct-2019
Mr Purbrick, a former Detective Senior Inspector of the HK Police, is now Director of Security and Integrity at The Hong Kong Jockey Club. This article was referenced by former Governor Lord Patten in the House of Lords debate on 24-Oct-2019.
Webb in a Webinar: HK-Invocation of emergency powers
AIMA, 9-Oct-2019
A discussion on the HK Government's use of the Emergency Regulations Ordinance, whether the ERO and the anti-mask regulation made by it are constitutional, and the broader issue of where HK may go from here. A form is required to listen but any answers will do. Held at 17:30 on 9-Oct-2019.
Carrie Lam and the separation of powers
After trying to breach the firewall between the 2 Systems with the Extradition Bill, she's at it again, invoking the ERO to enact law by regulation. The PFCR, which she says is subsidiary legislation, sets penalties higher than permitted by Ordinance. Subsidiary legislation cannot override existing Ordinances, so she had better not try. Meanwhile, basic maths and weekend events suggest the anti-mask law fails the rational connection test and is unconstitutional. (8-Oct-2019)
24 legislators v CE in Council & others
HK Court of First Instance, 8-Oct-2019
Justice Godfrey Lam declines to grant an interim injunction against the Prohibition of Face Coverings Regulation issued by CE Carrie Lam under the Emergency Regulations Ordinance.
Webb on "Newswrap" re the anti-mask law and the ERO
RTHK, 4-Oct-2019
Making laws via the ERO may be unconstitutional
The Basic Law establishes a clear separation of powers between executive and legislative branches. A law that allows the Chief Executive to make laws appears unconstitutional. We expect a judicial review if she tries it. Even if she succeeds, draconian laws don't address the root problem: a deficit in democratic accountability for both the CE and LegCo. We again propose local legislation to scrap corporate voting and democratise the system. (4-Oct-2019)
'Questionable' whether HK mask ban using ERO is constitutional
CNBC, 4-Oct-2019
An excerpt from an interview with David Webb this morning.
Webb on the HK protests: 'Hard crackdown likely'
CapeTalk Radio, 2-Oct-2019
Jump to 02:15 in the podcast. We again explain how to democratise the Functional Constituencies and the Chief Executive Election Committee seats by scrapping corporate voting, replacing tycoon votes with worker votes. This can be done by amending HK laws, without NPCSC approval. Without meaningful democratisation, the protests will likely continue until a hard crackdown.
Where can one protest if not near MTR stations?
Police have banned a protest march on HK Island on Sunday, partly because it goes near several MTR stations. Of course, the whole point of Mass Transit is to take people near urban areas. This image shows what a 500 metre no-protest zone around stations on the MTR Island line would look like. (13-Sep-2019)
Webb on "Backchat" re HK protests
RTHK, 13-Sep-2019
Ventus Lau Wing Hong v Returning Officer for NT East and Gary Fan Kwok Wai
HK Court of First Instance, 13-Sep-2019
For the same reasons as in the case of Agnes Chow Ting, Mr Lau succeeds in his election petition. The Returning Officer didn't give him a chance to be heard before disqualifying his candidacy. Unless successfully appealed, Neo-Democrat Gary Fan Kwok Wai is unseated and there will be a by-election in NT East.
Govt weighing up using emergency law: Teresa ChengThe ERO
RTHK, 11-Sep-2019
In constitutional terms, it's like weighing up whether to launch thermonuclear war. At least the Govt was going to ram the Extradition Bill through LegCo rather than just make laws on its own, destroying the separation of powers between the Executive and Legislative branches of Government. That's what the Emergency Regulations Ordinance can do, and more.
The most likely outcome for HK
A systemically unstable equilibrium of civil liberties without democracy may have irrevocably tipped towards an authoritarian outcome. We suggest a way to salvage the situation, but we consider the most likely outcome is now a crackdown. We look at what form that might take, the possible aftermath and the looming 2047 expiry of Basic Law promises. (3-Sep-2019)
Webb on HK protests and pressure from Beijing
CapeTalk Radio, 3-Sep-2019
Agnes Chow Ting v Returning Officer and Au Nok Hin
HK Court of First Instance, 2-Sep-2019
Mr Au's election is nullified because Ms Chow was not given the right to be heard before the Returning Officer disqualified her on the ground that, although she signed the required declaration that she would uphold the Basic Law, the RO didn't believe her. If the judgment is not successfully appealed then there will be a by-election on HK Island. The Court maintains that the Returning Officer must still filter candidates by second-guessing their declaration, following the NPCSC interpretation of 7-Nov-2016.
Amid crisis, China rejected HK plan to appease protesters - sources
Reuters, 30-Aug-2019
Comment: this confirms that although CE Carrie Lam has constitutional autonomy to administer HK, respond to protesters' demands and withdraw bills from the legislature, she is following Peking's directions. How lame, Mrs Lam. A "high degree of autonomy" is worthless unless you are prepared to exercise it.
Webb on HK protests and China: a 1-hour podcast
Hidden Forces, 19-Aug-2019
Recorded at 9pm HKT on 16-Aug-2019, a wide-ranging discussion on the unsustainability of HK's model of civil liberties without democracy and the possible outcomes, as well as the unsustainability of the centrally-planned Chinese economic model.
"Long Hair" gets short cut to final appealJustice is blind, except for haircuts
HK Court of Final Appeal, 13-Aug-2019
Mr Leung is granted leave for a final appeal to be heard on 18-Feb-2020. More people in wigs will hear his plea that male and female prisoners should have the same rule on haircuts. The UK removed the different treatment by 1999, as we reported last year in "Justice is blind, except for haircuts", after the Court of Appeal overturned the First Instance judgment which was in his favour.
Webb on BBC World Service radio "Business Daily" re extradition bill
BBC, 5-Jul-2019
Government "rumours clarification" begs a question
HK Government, 29-Jun-2019
HKSARG says it has no plans to reactivate "amendments to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance" in the next LegCo term, but says nothing about changes to the Mutual Legal Assistance law which would allow the PRC to freeze assets in HK during investigation of criminal allegations. So perhaps they plan to restart that. Private bankers and wealth managers will likely advise their clients accordingly, to shift assets to other financial centres.
An investor's vision for the future of HK (podcast)
Bloomberg, 22-Jun-2019
Webb on corporate governance, small caps, the Extradition Bill and the future of HK & China.
HK’s Lam tone-deaf to local And foreign public opinion (radio)
Bloomberg, 17-Jun-2019
ExCo Convener Bernard Chan: people misunderstood Extradition Bill
Bloomberg, 17-Jun-2019
Webb on Extradition Bill, Carrie Lam and future of HK (video)
Bloomberg, 17-Jun-2019
Why Carrie Lam must go
The "suspension" of the Extradition Bill, which will likely lapse in July 2020, is not the end of an increasing erosion of HK's autonomy. With a rubber-stamp legislature, the only thing that now prevents draconian legislation is massive public pressure. Mrs Lam has irrevocably lost the public trust. Beijing will hold her accountable for the loss of control last week, after a suitable interval to disconnect the issues, but this will not prevent the increasing erosion of HK's autonomy. (16-Jun-2019)
Our message didn't get through, says HK ExCo Convener
CNN, 14-Jun-2019
"The Bill itself is nothing wrong".
Leung Chun Kwong v Civil Service & Inland Revenue
HK Court of Final Appeal, 6-Jun-2019
In a victory for common sense, Mr Leung, a gay man legally married overseas, wins. The CFA unanimously overturns the Court of Appeal, which found that the "prevailing views of the community on marriage" was relevant. In a nutshell, the whole point of prohibiting discrimination against minorities is to prevent the majority view (if there is one) from trampling over their rights. The CFA also held that there was no rational connection between denying Leung his employment benefits and joint taxation and protecting the institution of heterosexual marriage (if that is a legitimate aim).
UK-Canada joint statement on Extradition Bill
UK Government, 30-May-2019
"Long Hair" v Commissioner of Correctional ServicesJustice is blind, except for haircuts
HK Court of Appeal, 22-Jan-2019
Mr Leung's application for leave to appeal to the CFA is dismissed. Mr Leung must now take a short-cut, so to speak, and go directly to the CFA, where more people in wigs may hear his plea that male and female prisoners should have the same rule on haircuts. Amazingly, neither side seems to have mentioned that the UK removed the different treatment by 1999, as we reported last year in "Justice is blind, except for haircuts".
Last chance to satirise the anthem
In case you've lost that lovin' feelin' for the Chinese markets. (10-Jan-2019)
Freedom and the future of China
This is the text of a High Table dinner speech delivered by Webb-site founder David Webb to the students of Chi Sun College, University of Hong Kong, this evening. Hyperlinks have been added. (30-Oct-2018)
QT v Director of Immigration
HK Court of Final Appeal, 4-Jul-2018
The CFA upholds the CA ruling that QT was subject to unreasonable discrimination in her application for a dependent visa on grounds of her homosexuality, as there was no rational connection between the stated objective of attracting talent to HK and the policy restricting this benefit to heterosexual married persons. The CFA, disagreeing with the CA, also rules that there are no "core rights and obligations" of marriage such as adoption or inheritance that are immune from justification when discrimination is alleged.
Leung Chun Kwong v Civil Service & Inland Revenue
HK Court of Appeal, 1-Jun-2018
Justice is blind, except for haircuts
The Court of Appeal rules that a prison order requiring men to have short hair and allowing women to choose is not discriminatory, because of societal norms for haircuts. We find substantial flaws in this reasoning. We also find that the UK rule which HK inherited was amended by 1999 to remove the discrimination, something that Long Hair's lawyers appear to have overlooked. (1-May-2018)
Carrie Lam's latest assault on free markets
The Government is threatening to broaden rather than repeal a restriction on the resale of event tickets in HK, a restriction which is probably unconstitutional anyway. This runs against the interests of event organisers and performers who benefit from the secondary market as we explain. It also runs against the broader public interest in consumer choice. Let the market function, and repeal section 6 of the POPE Ordinance. What next - a restriction on reselling wine or IPO shares for a profit? (17-Apr-2018)
Respect, the national anthem and the Basic Law
By imposing the National Anthem Law on HK, the CPG seeks to command rather than earn respect. It will trigger another constitutional test of the freedoms promised in the Basic Law as soon as the first international HK soccer match after the law is passed kicks off. We also find a 1941 recording, 8 years before the song became an anthem, including a translation that Beijing would not regard as politically correct today. March on! (25-Mar-2018)
Webb on "Backchat" re taxing vacant flats
RTHK, 19-Mar-2018
Andy Chan Ho Tin v Returning Officer
HK Court of First Instance, 13-Feb-2018
HK authorities seize 8500 mobile phones worth HK$8m after high-speed boat chase
South China Morning Post, 20-Dec-2017
Go figure: HK doesn't charge VAT or import/export duties, so HK public money is spent protecting mainland government revenues and suppressing demand for the goods in HK, hence reducing HK taxable profits. HK is a freeport under Basic Law Article 114 and should start behaving like one.
HKSAR v Christine Fong Kwok Shan
HK Court of Final Appeal, 4-Oct-2017
Ms Fong's appeal against conviction for demonstrating in a LegCo public gallery is unanimously dismissed. However, the court rejects the Government's submission that a person does not have freedom of expression when on Government property. Rather, it is for the Government to show that a restriction on free speech is justified in the circumstances on the grounds of constitutional necessity.
QT v Director of Immigration
HK Court of Appeal, 25-Sep-2017
In a landmark decision, the Court unanimously grants the appeal by a person in a same-sex British civil partnership, ruling that the policy indirectly discriminates against gay couples in a civil partnership or marriage recognised overseas, because it grants a benefit (a dependent visa) only to spouses as defined by HK law, of the opposite sex, for which they cannot qualify. There is no rational connection between the legitimate aim of immigration control and the means adopted. Our take: this very thorough and well-reasoned ruling will impact other policies which adopt heterosexual marriage as a criterion for benefits. The Government may try to go to the Court of Final Appeal, but they are unlikely to succeed in overturning this.
Does HK's land sale system need a new lease of life?HK Land Lease Reform
South China Morning Post, 18-Apr-2017
Shirley Zhao's article covers our proposals for Land Lease Reform published on 1-Nov-2010 (at the second link). Let's hope that the new CE puts that into effect.
Leung Kwok Hung v Commissioner of Correctional Services
HK Court of First Instance, 17-Jan-2017
In a victory for male equality, "Long Hair" succeeds in a judicial review of the decision to require that his hair be cut short on admission to prison. The rules state that a female prisoner is entitled on request to have her hair cut "especially before discharge or production in court. Except as recommended by [Medical Officer], a female prisoner's hair shall not be cut shorter than the style on admission without her consent." A point not addressed is that men are apparently not entiled to have a haircut before court appearances.
Andrew Left and the right to be wrong
We take a close look at the Market Misconduct Tribunal's report on Mr Left's erroneous criticism of China Evergrande (3333), and what that says about free speech amongst participants in the HK market. (23-Oct-2016)
Hysan Development v Town Planning Board
HK Court of Final Appeal, 26-Sep-2016
In a major development in HK jurisprudence, the CFA adds a 4th leg to the proportionality test when restricting a constitutional right. If the restriction pursues a legitimate aim, is rationally connected to that aim and is no more than is necessary to achieve that aim, then the 4th leg is whether a reasonable balance has been struck between the societal benefits of the restriction and the infringement of the constitutional right, asking in particular whether it results in an unacceptably harsh burden on the individual. Kudos to Hysan for bringing this case.
A sordid electoral affair
The HK Government, via its Electoral Affairs Commission, has tarnished HK's reputation for free and fair geographic elections for half of its Legislative Council, just to exclude a few candidates who were previously on the political fringe. There is nothing inconsistent between pledging to uphold the constitution and seeking to change it, and the Government now risks the courts overturning the election results. We also explain the fragmentation caused by HK's version of the party list system which has now reached epic proportions. (17-Aug-2016)
QT v Director of Immigration
HK Court of First Instance, 11-Mar-2016
Home Shan't Be China
HSBC's decision to stay put is unsurprising, not just because of the reduced UK bank levy, but because of the risks of moving to what is increasingly seen as one country rather than two systems. (15-Feb-2016)
Keeping public data public: the right to remember Video
These are the slides of a presentation by David Webb to the Foreign Correspondents' Club today. (12-Jan-2016)
Hong Kong's Memory Hole
Wall Street Journal, 20-Nov-2015
AAB rejects Webb-site appeal of redaction order
In a chilling decision for media freedom in HK, the AAB has rejected our appeal of the Privacy Commissioner's order to remove from Webb-site Reports information obtained from published judgments, ruling that "reporting and publication for general use" is not an allowed purpose. Constitutional aspects, such as the necessity of a restriction on free speech that does not apply to overseas online publishers, were barely covered. We look at the consequences and options. (30-Oct-2015)
CJ Geoffrey Ma: the judiciary is independent and everybody is equal before the law, without exceptionsSpeech by Zhang Xiaoming
HK Court of Final Appeal, 16-Sep-2015
This came after the head of the Central Government's Liaison Office, Zhang Xiaoming, claimed in a speech on 12-Sep-2015 that there is no separation of powers and that the Chief Executive of HK "transcends" the executive, legislature and judiciary.
Alex Lo: Time for HK's privacy commissioner to go
South China Morning Post, 14-Jul-2015
HK privacy watchdog’s order to remove names from website would create an ‘Orwellian memory hole’, says market analyst
South China Morning Post, 13-Jul-2015
David Webb appeals against ban on publishing namesNewswrap audio clip
RTHK, 13-Jul-2015
Webb to defend HK media freedom in landmark appeal
In a public hearing on 13-Jul-2015, Webb-site's founder, editor and publisher will appeal against an Enforcement Notice issued by the Privacy Commissioner which, if upheld, would have wide-ranging implications for freedom of speech and publication in HK and access to media archives of HK-based publishers. (4-Jul-2015)
Yvonne Leung Lai Kwok v HKSARG
HK Court of First Instance, 5-Jun-2015
Government changes Basic Law facts
In a Webb-site exclusive, we reveal that the HK Government has revised its own fact sheets on the Basic Law with politically-sensitive consequences. (18-Dec-2014)
Soon, we can all be rubber stamps
Our take on yesterday's command from Beijing. (1-Sep-2014)
Kong Yunming v Director of Social Welfare
HK Court of Final Appeal, 17-Dec-2013
A landmark case on Articles 25, 36 and 145 of the Basic Law. As Justice Bokhary notes: "It will be noticed at once that these guarantees of equality are not confined to permanent residents. Article 25...speaks of all residents...". This ruling thus has implications for the proposed Buyer's Stamp Duty and Double Stamp Duty, which both discriminate against non-Permanent Residents. It adds support to our view that the proposed duties are unconstitutional.
Double Stamp Duty: Webb to speak at CanCham, Wednesday 3-Jul
Company media release, 26-Jun-2013
Seats are still available for a breakfast organised by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce next Wednesday, at which a panel of legislators, property experts and free-market advocates will lead a discussion of the Government's proposed doubling of stamp duty, which, like the 15% "Buyer's Stamp Duty" and the higher rate and duration of "Special Stamp Duty" has not yet become law. Hit the link to sign up.
Second submission to LegCo on DSD
This morning's session with public delegations, in which a junior civil servant was fielded, leaves a number of fundamental policy questions to be answered by the principal officials. Here they are. (13-Jun-2013)
Evangeline Banao Vallejos v Commissioner of Registration & another
HK Court of Final Appeal, 25-Mar-2013
Of privacy and opacity
Economist, 1-Mar-2013
Double stamp duty
We explain the fallacy in the proposed so-called "demand-side" measures announced on Friday. Higher transaction costs reduce volumes, not prices, and affect both buyers and sellers. We ask whether this is really worth trashing HK's reputation as a free and open economy and what this meddling is trying to achieve. (25-Feb-2013)
The alternative Budget Speech, 2013: Prosperity through Reform
Webb-site reveals the Hong Kong Budget Speech which should be delivered next Wednesday. (22-Feb-2013)
Webb on "The Pulse" (TV) re freedom of publication in HK (at 05:57)
RTHK, 22-Feb-2013
Webb on "Backchat" re sale of hotel suites, and fiscal reserves
RTHK, 21-Feb-2013
BSD and SSD 2.0 - submission to LegCo Bills Committee on Stamp Duty (Amendment) Bill 2012
We dissect the proposed Buyer's Stamp Duty and increase and expansion of Special Stamp Duty on residential properties in HK. Government replies to Webb-site reveal that they don't actually have data to support the discrimination between Permanent Residents and Non-PRs, even if the duty were constitutional, which it is not. (5-Feb-2013)
HK Secretary for Justice on immigration case
HK Government, 13-Dec-2012
Some-Buyer's Stamp Duty
We examine HK's proposed discriminatory stamp duty on companies and non-permanent residents who buy residential property, its questionable constitutionality, its negative impacts on social harmony and the redevelopment market, and the proposed SSD 2.0. (30-Oct-2012)
Democratic Republic of the Congo & others v FG Hemisphere Associates LLC
HK Court of Final Appeal, 8-Sep-2011
Democratic Republic of the Congo & others v FG Hemisphere Associates LLC
HK Court of Final Appeal, 8-Jun-2011
SSD, the Basic Law, and a lesson from Singapore
The Government has responded to LegCo on our concerns that the proposed Special Stamp Duty is unconstitutional. We go further in this article, explaining why SSD would not be a legitimate tax protected by Basic Law Article 108. We'll also look at the lesson in political reality from Singapore's 1996-97 experiment, and we propose a fairer, focused alternative, in the form of a withholding system for profits tax. (30-Jan-2011)
Webb on "Backchat" re special stamp duty & other property issues
RTHK, 18-Jan-2011
Prepared remarks of David Webb appearing in LegCo on Special Stamp Duty
Hong Kong should halt new property stamp duty, let bubble burst, Webb says
Bloomberg, 4-Jan-2011
LegCo invites submissions on Special Stamp Duty
HK Legislative Council, 21-Dec-2010
Submit your views to LegCo! David Webb will attend the meeting on 4-Jan at 4.30pm.
Webb-site submission to LegCo on Special Stamp Duty
HK Legislative Council, 14-Dec-2010
Poll losers win right to seek higher court
HK Standard, 14-Dec-2010
Chan Yu Nam & Lo Hom Chau v Secretary for Justice
HK Court of Appeal, 7-Dec-2010
The Court of Appeal rejects a challenge to the constitutionality of corporate voting in functional constituencies, in essence because corporate voting was already around when the Basic Law was drafted, and Article 26 was not intended to make the voting right exclusive to permanent residents.
Webb on "Backchat" debating Special Stamp Duty with Government
RTHK, 6-Dec-2010
Stamp Duty (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2010
HK Gazette, 3-Dec-2010
Stamp Duty (Amendment) (No.2) Bill 2010 to be gazetted this Friday
HK Government, 1-Dec-2010
Government criticises Stamp Duty proposal
In a case of policy schizophrenia, the Government said a special stamp duty would be unfair, cause additional hardship to those in financial difficulties, and amount to double taxation. Then they proposed it anyway, based on a bunch of selective, deceptive and alarmist statistics, which we dissect. Legislators should kill this proposal or at least insert a sunset clause so that it expires with Donald Tsang's office. Exceptional times do not call for irrational measures. (26-Nov-2010)
Webb on "Backchat" re special stamp duty and mortgage limits
RTHK, 23-Nov-2010
Hong Kong Land Lease Reform, Part 2
We advocate a rebalancing of HK's land lease system, reducing up-front premiums in exchange for a perpetual stream of future ground rents and addressing a number of festering problems simultaneously. We also suggest a Premium Release Scheme to return hoarded capital to the market, and PRS Bonds or HIPS (HK Income Protected Securities) to help finance it, providing a new long-term investment option for retirement funds. (1-Nov-2010)
Hong Kong Land Lease Reform, Part 1
In the first of a two-part article, we examine the 169-year history of lease tenures in HK, which ended up with a high-premium low-rent land lease policy with relatively short leases. It wasn't always this way, but before making the case for change, we explain the historical context. (7-Oct-2010)
20% of 70 is not 12
A little-noticed provision of the Government's constitutional proposals seeks to contravene the Basic Law by restricting the percentage of legislators who can hold right of foreign abode to less than that provided by the Basic Law. If the proposal proceeds into local law, then we will consider bringing a judicial review. Ironically, when it suits them, the Government proposes a percentage nomination criterion for the Chief Executive rather than the absolute number in the Basic Law. (30-Nov-2005)
Leung Kwok Hung & others v HKSAR
HK Court of Final Appeal, 3-Oct-2005
2007 & HK's Future
Your editor addressed the Legislative Council's Constitutional Affairs Panel today, on the question of universal suffrage for the election of Hong Kong's Chief Executive in 2007. We urged the Government to stop dragging its feet and implement a free market in policy-makers through the ballot box. (16-Jun-2003)

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