Press Statement on 4 October 2015
Faculty of Law, The University of Hong Kong

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


The Faculty of Law refutes in the strongest possible terms unfair criticisms that were said to have been made against Professor Johannes Chan in the last Council meeting of Sept 29, 2015.

Prof. Chan has long been recognised as a leading scholar of public law and human rights in Hong Kong. Before he became Head of the Department of Law in 1999 and subsequently Dean of the Faculty of Law, he had already been promoted by the University to his current academic position as Professor in 1998, after rigorous external assessment and on the basis of international recognition of his contribution to legal scholarship. In 2002 he was elected Dean of the Faculty. In 2005, when the University changed its deanship system to appointment of full-time deans on the basis of international recruitment, Prof. Chan was selected by the search committee and appointed the first full-time Dean of the Faculty.

Speculations that Prof. Chan was appointed Dean only because he is a nice person are groundless. While Prof. Chan is certainly a nice person, his colleagues respect him because of his excellent leadership and management of the Faculty, his vision for the Faculty’s role in providing high-quality legal education and promoting the rule of law in Hong Kong and as a centre of excellence in research on Western, Chinese and international laws, his unique ability in promoting and motivating colleagues to achieve this vision, and above all his utmost honour and integrity. During his term of office as Dean, Prof. Chan was also tireless in his efforts to deepen the Faculty's ties with Mainland and overseas Universities, and the Faculty achieved high rankings in the QS World University Rankings.

Prof. Johannes Chan’s appointment as Honorary Senior Counsel in 2003 testifies to his high standing in Hong Kong’s legal community. Under section 31A(4a) of the Legal Practitioners Ordinance, a member of the academic staff of a law school in Hong Kong who is qualified as a barrister and who has “provided distinguished service to the law of Hong Kong” may be appointed Honorary Senior Counsel. The appointment is made by the Chief Justice after consultation with the Chairman of the Bar Council and the President of the Law Society of Hong Kong. So far, Prof. Chan is the only law teacher in Hong Kong who has been appointed Honorary Senior Counsel.

Professor Yash Ghai, Emeritus Professor of our Faculty, formerly holder of the Sir Y.K. Pao Chair in Public Law and HKU’s Distinguished Research Achievement Award (the most prestigious research award in the University of Hong Kong), wrote to us after the recent Council decision as follows:

“I was shocked to learn that the Council of Hong Kong University has rejected Professor Johannes Chan’s nomination as the University's Pro-Vice Chancellor…

I was Professor Chan's colleague for several years at the Faculty of Law at HKU. We are both public law teachers and have collaborated on several research projects. Prof. Chan is also a distinguished lawyer who has participated in several leading cases on constitutional and administrative law in Hong Kong.
It is absurd to say that he is not qualified for the position because he does not have a Ph D. Some of the world's leading law professors and scholars do not have a PhD degree. … When I was a law student, first at Oxford, and then Harvard for graduate studies, not one of my teachers had a PhD! …

I collaborated with Prof. Chan in writing in and editing two books, one on human rights in Hong Kong, following the adoption by the Legislative Council of the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance, and the other on the decision of the Court of Final Appeal in the right of abode case, decided soon after the Basic Law came into force. Chan edited most of the chapters, co-authored one with me, and one on his own, in the first of these books. In the second book, he took responsibility for editing contributions in Chinese language, and wrote a chapter himself. Both these books were well received and provoked considerable debate -- as a good book should. Two years ago in a book that I edited with Professor Simon Young, on the first 13 years of the Court of Final Appeal and that of Chief Justice Andrew Li, Prof. Chan contributed an excellent chapter on public law. He has published articles in well-known law journals, in Hong Kong and abroad. …

Professor Chan has also written about Hong Kong's law in popular journals and newspapers, to educate ordinary people and to stimulate debate -- which is also the responsibility of a good law teacher and professor. His involvement with cases in the Hong Kong courts is also consistent with a scholar's contribution to the development of the law. Developing good working relations with the judiciary and the legal profession, which Prof. Chan has done with great success, is also often regarded as the responsibility of a law teacher. His contribution to the reform of law is well-known, through litigation and research. It would be a grave misrepresentation to suggest that Prof. Chan was elected Dean of the Law Faculty because he was considered ‘a nice guy’. He is undoubtedly a nice guy. But before he became the Dean, he was the Head of the Law Department. All the students and teachers had ample opportunities to see his leadership at close quarters. It is because we were convinced of his outstanding abilities, in providing leadership, fundraising, cultivating relations with the judiciary and the legal profession, and his vision of the Faculty as a leading centre of legal scholarship, that we elected him as Dean. All the expectations that we had of him have been fulfilled…”


We hope that this statement has helped to set the record straight: Prof. Johannes Chan is internationally recognized as a leading scholar in his field. He was appointed Dean of Law for his vision, his leadership, his integrity, his passion for legal education, and above all his outstanding abilities. We have been fortunate to have him at the helm of the Faculty.


Regardless of what lies ahead, the Faculty will continue in its commitment to uphold academic freedom and the rule of law in Hong Kong.


Faculty of Law
University of Hong Kong
4 October 2015

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香港大學法律學院聲明

港大校委會於2015年9月29日舉行會議,根據其中一位委員披露,會議上有委員對陳文敏教授提出不少質疑。本聲明旨在表達港大法律學院對這些不公評價的嚴正反駁。

陳教授一向被公認為香港公法及人權法方面的著名學者。他在1999年成為港大法律系系主任,之後任職法律學院院長。港大早於1998年時,便根據他獲國際承認的學術成就,並經過嚴謹的校外專家評核程序,提升他為教授(正教授,即Professor)。在2002年,他當選為港大法律學院院長。港大於2005年改革其院長遴選制度,院長通過全球性招聘,然後由校方委任為全職院長。陳教授在有競爭性應聘的情況下,獲遴選委員會推薦,以全職身份,續任法律學院院長一職。

有猜測認為陳教授之所以能成為法律學院院長,純粹是因為他是一位好人,這是不全面的。陳教授無疑是性情敦厚,但同僚對他的認同及尊重,乃基於他在法律學院所展現的優秀領導及管理才能。他為法律學院訂出願景,就是希望本學院能為香港提供高質素的法律教育,於香港推廣法治精神,並成為一個匯集西方法治、中國法治及國際法的卓越研究中心。他憑著卓越的領導才能,鼓勵同僚為達致這一願景而努力不懈;更重要的是,他個人的品格及情操,令他備受尊重。陳教授在任院長期間,亦不遺餘力地去推動和加強港大法律學院與中國內地及海外大學的學術交流與聯繫。而法律學院更於他在任院長期間在世界大學QS排名(QS World University Rankings)中名列前茅。

陳文敏教授於2003年獲委任為名譽資深大律師,這印證他在香港法律界的崇高地位。根據《法律執業者條例》第31A條第4a款,終審法院首席法官可在諮詢大律師公會執行委員會主席及律師會會長之後,委任香港任何大學中曾「對香港法律作出傑出貢獻」並擁有大律師資格的教學人員為名譽資深大律師。至目前為至,陳教授是唯一獲得此殊榮的法律學者。

港大法律學院榮休教授、前包玉剛公法講座教授及曾獲香港大學卓越研究成就獎(此為香港大學最崇高的研究獎項)的佳日思教授(Professor Yash Ghai)得知校委會的決定以後,主動發信我院表達其看法:

“本人對香港大學校務委員會(校委會)否決委任陳文敏教授為港大副校長一事感到震驚。⋯

我在港大法律學院工作期間得與陳教授共事,同為公法領域的教授,我亦有機會於幾項研究項目中與他合作。陳教授更是一位優秀的大律師,曾參與香港多宗重要的憲法性及行政法案件的訴訟。

關於因他沒有博士學位而未能勝任副校長一職這一說法是荒誕的。世界各地一些一流法學教授或學者未曾獲得博士學位。當年我在牛津大學及哈佛大學就讀時,我的老師當中沒有一位擁有博士銜頭!⋯

我曾與陳教授合編兩本書。第一本是關於香港的人權法,著於香港立法局(現稱立法會)通過《香港人權法案條例》後,而另一本則關於香港終審法院在基本法生效後所處理的居留權案件。陳教授負責編輯此兩書中大部份文章,亦與我合著一章,他自己又另寫一章。他為上述第二本書編審中文文章,並主筆一章。兩本書俱獲好評,並如大部份優秀著作一樣,在學界引起廣泛討論。兩年前我與楊艾文教授合編一本關於香港終審法院成立頭十三年、即當時的首席大法官李國能任內的司法狀況的著作,陳教授為此書貢獻了一篇有關公法的精彩文章。歷年來,他也在本港及海外的著名法律期刊發表論文。⋯

此外,陳教授又不時於本港報刊就香港的法律議題發表專欄文章,藉以教育普羅大眾及引起討論,這亦是一位傑出的法律學者及教授應做的工作。他於香港法庭以大律師身份參與案件訴訟,並以學者身份就香港法律發展著書立說,這兩者是相輔相成的。作為一位優秀的法律學者,陳教授成功地與本地的司法界及法律界發展良好的合作關係,他並透過親自參與訴訟及進行法學研究,為香港法律的發展和改革作出重要貢獻。

有指陳教授獲選為法律學院院長,全因他是一位「好人」,此說法純屬無稽之談。陳教授無疑是一位好人,但他成為法律學院院長之前,已經是法律系系主任。他的領導才能為同學及老師有目共睹。在選拔院長時,我們深信他的卓越能力,可以有效領導法律學院的學術發展、籌款工作以至其與司法界及法律界的良好合作關係,我們並認同他立志於將本法律學院發展為卓越的法學研究中心的願景,因而對他投下信心一票。在他任職我們法律學院院長的十多年來,他從來沒有辜負過我們的信任,他完全滿足了我們的期望。⋯”

本學院希望透過這份聲明以正視聽:陳文敏教授於其學術專業領域內是國際學界認可的優秀法律學者。基於其願景、領導才能、操守及對法律教育的熱情,尤其是基於他過人的能力,陳文敏教授被委以港大法律學院此重任。我們曾有幸得他掌舵。

無論前路如何,本學院將恪守其使命,繼續維護香港的學術自由及法治精神。

香港大學法律學院
2015年10月4日