Nov 13
6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
(Cancelled) The Cutting Edge of the Law Lecture Series - Lecture 1: How Fragile is the Common Law?

The Cutting Edge of the Law Lecture Series (Cancelled)

Professor Henry Litton, GBM, CBE, MA (Oxon)

Former Judge of the Court of Final Appeal


Lecture 1

How Fragile is the Common Law?  


Date: Wednesday, 13 November 2019 at 6:00 pm

Venue: Academic Conference Room, 11/F, Cheng Yu Tung Tower, HKU


This lecture explores two aspects of the common law: (1) The pitfall of precedents, which are to some degree tied to the litigant’s purse-string. This lecture will examine the landmark English case of Salomon v A. Salomon & Co Ltd and the Hong Kong case of Ming Shiu Cheung & Others v Ming Shiu Sum, Lawrence where, at First Instance and on intermediate appeal, the true issues got submerged in a deluge of irrelevant matters. How might the law have evolved if the litigant had not taken the matter to final appeal? (2) The peculiar position of the common law in Hong Kong. The high degree of autonomy given to the Hong Kong courts under the Basic Law is subject to one caveat: the ultimate power of interpreting the Basic Law vests in Beijing. This touches on Hong Kong’s autonomy. How sensitive have the courts been to this fact? This will be examined in the context of Hysan Development v Town Planning Board, and Kung Yu Ming v Director of Social Welfare.


About the Speaker: Henry Litton, GBM, CBE, MA (Oxon) is a former Judge of the Court of Final Appeal.  Born in Hong Kong, his family goes back three generations as Hong Kong belongers.   He excelled in school (Diocesan Boys’ School, Kowloon and King’s College, Taunton, England) and graduated from Merton College, Oxford, with honors in jurisprudence in 1956.  After passing the Bar exams in 1959, he entered into private practice in Hong Kong where he was eminently successful as a barrister.  He was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1970 and co-founded the Hong Kong Law Journal, serving as its editor-in-chief for 21 years.  He was Chairman of the Bar from 1971-1977.  He was appointed in 1989 an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for his contribution to the law, and was elevated from the Bar to the Court of Appeal in 1992, the first of such appointment in Hong Kong.  He became Vice-President of the Court of Appeal in 1995 and a Permanent Judge of the Court of Final Appeal in 1997 when China resumed its sovereignty over Hong Kong.  During his time on the Bench he has delivered many significant judgments and has played a prominent role in developing Hong Kong law.  Henry Litton has been a great friend of the Faculty over very many years and his contribution to our prosperity has been considerable.  In 2010 he delivered a lecture on Language and the Law as part of the Faculty’s Common Law Lecture Series, and is an Honorary Professor in the Faculty.



Enquiries: Lydia Bute at


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