Lam rejects barrister nominee to judges panel, appoints another

The sideways purge continues…

The Straits Times

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam rejected a Bar Association nominee to a discreet panel that selects the city’s judges and appointed the Bar’s new chairman instead, the barristers’ body said on Friday (March 25), announcing what was an unprecedented switch.

The nomination of senior commercial barrister Victor Dawes, elected Bar chairman in January, was made after Hong Kong Chief Executive Lam in February sought another nominee instead of Neville Sarony, a veteran barrister put forward by the Bar in August last year, the Bar Association statement said.


Victor Dawes SC Barrister

Neville Sarony QC

It was the first confirmation of the delay, also unprecedented, surrounding Sarony’s nomination, reported by Reuters in January.

The work of the panel, known as the Judicial Officers Recommendation Commission (JORC), is being closely monitored by lawyers, scholars and diplomats amid concerns over judicial independence in the global financial hub.

The Bar statement said Dawes was the best candidate and that “the Bar Council believes it is in the public interest for a member of the Bar to be appointed to JORC without further delay”.

Sarony’s nomination last year came amid intense criticism of the association by pro-Beijing forces, who accused it of being “anti-China” for questioning government moves such as a 2019 proposal to allow suspects to be extradited to mainland China for trial.

While seen by his peers as non-partisan and a specialist in personal injury cases, Sarony, who is in his early 80s, has at times been critical of government policies in local newspaper columns.