Press Statement on 4 October 2015

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





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。


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:












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