Judges bypassed a “firewall” in recent judicial review application approvals, leading to a tendency to abuse, former Bar Association chair and retired Court of Final Appeal judge Henry Litton told the journal Hong Kong Lawyer.
The firewall refers to the step by which the judge must be convinced that the applicant’s case is reasonably arguable, said Litton.
Litton believes that cases such as Yvonne Leung Lai-kwok’s should not have been considered for judicial review but “the procedure adopted by the judge by-passed the ‘firewall.'”
Yvonne Leung filed for a judicial review regarding the second public consultation process regarding Hong Kong’s political reform.
Cases like this “gave oxygen to frivolous and vexatious applications that should have been screened out,” Litton said.
Yet Leung’s case was rejected by the High Court in June last year, according to court records.
According to Ming Pao, former lawmaker Margaret Ng said this rejection shows that the firewall still stands and is very high.
Litton said that he had no problem with the idea that “there is nothing wrong with the threshold for judicial review.” He is dissatisfied with the handling of recent cases.
Litton came under fire last December when he first said that the judicial review system was being abused, causing a stir among Hong Kong lawyers and residents alike.