Syllabus for Hong Kong Constitutional Law

1. The Acquisition of British Sovereignty

The Unequal treaties – the Basis of British Jurisdiction in Hong Kong – The Assumption and exercise of British Authority – The Constitution and the System of Government – Political reform in the Fifties – Development of the Administrative System – Development of Representative Government;

2. The Resumption of Sovereignty

Sovereignty and Self-Determination – Sino-British Negotiation and the Joint Declaration – the Drafting of the Basic Law – Residual Powers – Scope of Application of Chinese Constitution – The Structure of the Basic Law – Transitional Issues – Patten’s Political Reform in the Nineties – Breakdown of the Through-train model – Provisional Legislative Council and its Legality;

3. The Framework of the Basic Law

Models of Autonomy and One Country, Two Systems – Separation of powers in the Basic Law – The nature of the Basic Law – General Principles – Relationship between Central Government and the HKSAR;

4. The Political and Administrative System

The Political Structure – Basic principles – Forms of Representation – NPC – Centralized and Consultative Government – Separation of powers or Executive-led Government – Legislative Council – Composition – Powers and Functions of the LegCo – Restriction on law making powers – Law making process – Supervision of executive and parliamentary enquiry – Public Finance – Impeachment of the Chief Executive – Selection of the Chief Executive – The Executive and the Chief Executive in Council – Contradictions in the political system – Neutrality of the civil service and the Ministerial System – Localization and principal officials;

5. Constitutional Jurisdiction of the Courts of the HKSAR

Parliamentary sovereignty and its application to the HKSAR – Act of State – Facts of State – Judicial review of legislation – resolutions of the NPCSC;

6. Interpretation and Amendment of the Basic Law

The importance of interpretation and the mode of interpretation – The Scheme for interpretation under Art 158 – Judicial referral, classification test and necessity test – The interpretation powers of the NPCSC and the HKSAR Courts – Problems arising under Art 158 – Legislative interpretation versus judicial interpretation – Judgment previously rendered shall not be affected – Role of the Basic Law Committee – Principles of and approach to interpretation – The scheme of Amendments to the Basic Law;



7. Rights and Freedoms

The General Framework for the Protection of Rights and Freedoms – Chapter 3, the Bill of Rights and the ICCPR – ICESCR and ILO – Civil and Political Rights – Economic rights and property rights – Social and cultural rights and policies – Lawful traditional rights and interests of the New Territories Indigenous Inhabitants – Limitations or restrictions of rights and freedoms – State of Emergency – Restrictions under Art 23;

8. International Aspects of the HKSAR

Chinese view of international law – External Affairs powers of the HKSAR – Role and problems of HKSAR in international legal regime – Succession of rights and obligations in international treaties applicable to Hong Kong before 1997 – capacity to participate in international treaties, conferences and organizations – Conflicts of law and recognition of judgments of Taiwan courts;

9. The Constitutional System of the People’s Republic of China

Theory of socialist constitution – A brief history of Chinese Constitutional System – The PRC Constitution – Central Authorities of the PRC (NPC, NPCSC, State Council, Central Military Commission) – The role and organization of the Communist Party – Special Administrative Regions under Art 31 – Rights and legality – Sources of Law (Legislative Interpretation and Executive Interpretation) – The Judiciary, the Public Security Bureau and the Procuratorate – Review of the Judiciary – A Developing Constitution.

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