Citation: Patrick CHAN Siu Oi, Doctor of Laws, honoris causa
A citation written and delivered by Dr. Claire WILSON
The Honourable Mr. Justice Patrick CHAN has dedicated his life to the amelioration of our society. He is a judge and gentleman of impeccable neutrality, intellectual rigour, and sound judgement. Those fortunate enough to have shared time with Justice CHAN, on a social or professional level, are often humbled by his achievements and inspired by his example.
Our appreciation of Justice CHAN’s public duties is accompanied by our personal gratitude, as we honour a man who has contributed so much both to Hong Kong, and to our university. Having presented guest lectures here on many occasions Justice CHAN is no stranger to Shue Yan. No doubt you will have had the opportunity to admire five of Justice CHAN’s judicial robes, displayed here on our campus. When asked why he made the donations, Justice CHAN responded candidly that “the best purpose to which he could put these robes was as an inspiration to future law students at Shue Yan University.”
One of Justice CHAN’s most remarkable qualities is loyalty. He was born in Hong Kong in 1948, and his patriotism and public spirit have never faltered. He was educated locally, first at Wah Yan College, and later at the University of Hong Kong, where he was awarded a Bachelor of Laws Degree in 1974, and a Postgraduate Certificate in Laws in 1975.
When recalling his early days as a freshman at Hong Kong University, Justice CHAN has spoken earnestly about the challenges that he needed to overcome in his quest to become more proficient in his legal studies. By executing a dedicated and determined approach he soon mastered the task in hand. Indeed, Patrick CHAN excelled as a legal scholar, and was later affectionately referred to as “Lord Denning” by one of his professors. Although meant as a light-hearted compliment to the quality of Patrick CHAN’s work, the pet-name also signified the bright future that lay ahead of the young scholar.
Justice CHAN has not always been firmly fixed on the judicial track. He started his legal career as an articled clerk, which would have led him to become a qualified solicitor. However, his passion for the law and court propelled him in a different direction. Within a matter of months, he abandoned his clerkship to realize his preferred vocation at the bar under the pupillage and guidance of Mr. Patrick YU. From the outset, Patrick CHAN quickly showed that he was resourceful and solution-oriented, having been told by his pupil master “I can’t teach you the law – you have to tell me”. Justice CHAN recalls that perhaps the most valuable words of wisdom shared by his pupil master was to “spend time to read more”. Over the following 10 years Patrick CHAN’s career flourished. Under Patrick Yu’s no-nonsense, moral guidance Patrick CHAN was given the support, and enough freedom, to develop his own thoughtful and methodical approach to the practice of law.
He was called to the Hong Kong bar in 1976. His professional prowess has also been recognized overseas, and in the year 2001 he was made an Honorary Bencher of the Inner Temple of England and Wales.
In the 1980s, many of Justice CHAN’s closest colleagues at the bar had begun to leave Hong Kong, preferring to emigrate overseas, and he was strongly encouraged to join them. After giving the matter some thought, he wondered what would be left in Hong Kong if it were abandoned by its trained lawyers. It was his desire to ensure that the rule of law was upheld and a genuine loyalty towards Hong Kong that compelled Justice CHAN to remain even though all around him were leaving. This decision has benefited the society of Hong Kong in so many ways.
In 1987, he was appointed as a District Court judge by the then Chief Justice, Denys ROBERTS. After his first appointment he soared through the ranks. He served as Deputy Registrar of the Supreme Court from 1991-1992, and judge of the High Court from 1992-1997. In 1997, he was the first locally educated member of the judiciary to be appointed Chief Judge of the High Court. In the year 2000 he was appointed Permanent Judge of the Court of Final Appeal. In 2013, he became a non-permanent member of the Court of Final Appeal. In recognition of his outstanding service in the judiciary, Justice CHAN was made an Honorary Life Member of the Hong Kong Bar Association, and was awarded the Grand Bauhinia Medal in 2013.
Justice CHAN is well known for implementing a number of cardinal initiatives. He has promoted bilingualism in Hong Kong law and the use of Chinese in the District Court, and subsequently in the higher courts. In the Court of Final Appeal, Justice CHAN played a central role in handling applications submitted in Chinese. The Judicial Placement Scheme for mainland legal scholars and judges was also initiated by Justice CHAN. He has been an active contributor to legal education both in Hong Kong and mainland China. Since 2013, Justice CHAN has designed and delivered courses to enable undergraduate and postgraduate students studying in mainland China to learn more about the Common Law legal system and the Basic Law of Hong Kong. Additionally, until September 2017, Justice CHAN served as the chairman of the Standing Committee on Legal Education and Training in Hong Kong.
Justice CHAN’s achievements have been widely recognized by the Hong Kong higher education community and he holds Honorary Fellowships from the University of Hong Kong and the Chinese University of Hong Kong as well Honorary Degrees in Laws from both City University and the University of Hong Kong.
In summary, Justice Patrick CHAN is a loyal Hong Kong citizen, an inspiring figure for justice and fairness, and a pillar of our society. Professor HU, it is my honour and privilege to present Mr. Justice Patrick CHAN to you, for the award of the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.