Hong Kong Law & Crime Politics & Protest

Disqualified lawmakers may give up appeal owing to high legal fees

“Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung has said that he and three other ousted lawmakers may not appeal the court ruling disqualifying them, since the financial cost is very high.

Pro-democracy legislators Leung, Lau Siu-lai, Nathan Law and Edward Yiu were challenged by the government over their oaths of office. The court disqualified them on Friday.

“From a legal and a rational point of view, we should appeal, but the cost of appeal is very high,” Leung said on an RTHK programme on Monday.

"Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung

“Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung. Photo: HKFP/Kris Cheng.

Leung said he will likely need to pay below HK$1 million if he gets an offer of legal aid, but he will need HK$3 million if he fails to obtain it. Leung said the estimated costs included the government’s legal fees, which they expect to be high.

“But I don’t know if I will be given legal aid now,” he said. “If we don’t have the funds, how do we go to court? Even if we win, if the government takes the cases to the Court of Final Appeal, then we run out of money.”

“But legally and rationally, we should seek a judicial explanation for the public.”

Leung said previously that if any of the four have to declare bankruptcy, then he or she will not be able to run again in the by-elections, according to election laws.

Lau Siu-lai

Lau Siu-lai. Photo: HKFP/Kris Cheng.

Legality of interpretation

Lau Siu-lai said on the programme that they are not confident in winning the appeal.

“The Court of First Instance ruling was written like the words of a school’s discipline master – it accepted the Basic Law interpretation fully,” she said. “This is very difficult to argue at the Court of Appeal.”

Beijing handed down an interpretation of the Basic Law last November to stipulate that oaths should be taken solemnly and accurately, during the government’s challenge to disqualify two other lawmakers.

But Lau said if the case goes to the Court of Final Appeal, the highest court should examine the interpretation’s legality.

“Does [Hong Kong] have to fully accept the interpretation? This is within the Court of Final Appeal’s power. The interpretation may not have been made in accordance with the situation of this society,” she said. “Secondly, it is arguable whether interpretations can be used retrospectively.”

Nathan Law

Nathan Law. Photo: HKFP/Kris Cheng.

Nathan Law said if Chief Executive Carrie Lam wished to mend the rift in society, by-elections for the two previously disqualified lawmakers and the newly disqualified four should be held separately.

The pro-democracy camp said earlier that if the by-elections are held together, they may lose at least two seats out of six and fail to retake their power to veto bills and motions raised by pro-Beijing lawmakers.

The date of the by-election for the two vacant seats left by Baggio Leung and Yau Wai-ching has yet to be set after nine months. The Court of Final Appeal will decide whether to accept their application for appeal on August 25.

Law said if the Legislative Council Commission, an administrative body formed by lawmakers, decided to ask them to return their wages and subsidies given by the legislature, the former lawmakers will have to pay up to HK$4 million each.

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Disqualified lawmakers may give up appeal owing to high legal fees