Johannes Chan SC (Hon.) 陳文敏 名譽資深大律師
Call : 1982 (HK) Silk : 2003 (HK) (Hon.)
Set : Main
Practice Areas
Administrative and Public Law
Email : [email protected]

Professor Johannes Chan SC (Hon) was called to the Bar in 1982 and to the Inner Bar in 2003.  He is Chair of Public Law and the former Dean (2002-2014) of the Faculty of Law, The University of Hong Kong.  He has published widely in the field of public law, including being the author/editor of 28 books and over 200 book chapters/journal articles/conference papers.  He is also an editor to all major sets of law reports in Hong Kong.  In 2003, he was appointed Honorary Senior Counsel in Hong Kong, being the first (and so far the only) academic silk in Hong Kong.  He has appeared in many leading constitutional law cases, and has served as an arbitrator.  He has also acted as a trial observer on behalf of human rights bodies in various sensitive cases in Asia, and has appeared before various international human rights treaty bodies. He has served on many public bodies, including being the Chairman of the Bar’s Committee on Constitutional Affairs and Human Rights, the Bar Council, the Chairman of Consumer Council Legal Action Fund (during which time he oversaw the local litigation arising from the collapse of the Lehman Brothers), a member of the Law Reform Sub-committee on Privacy (producing 5 major reports on privacy), and a founding member of Human Rights Monitor.  He was also the BOK Visiting International Professor at University of Pennsylvania Law School, Herbert Smith Freehills Visiting Professor of the University of Cambridge, and is currently a visiting professor of University College London (2018-2023). In 2019, Professor Chan was awarded the Hong Kong Research Grants Council’s Prestigious Fellowship in Humanities and Social Sciences.

Recent Books

  • Paths of Justice (Hong Kong University Press, 2018), 250 pp
  • Law of the Hong Kong Constitution (Sweet & Maxwell, 2nd ed, 2015)(with C L Lim),  1163 pp; (3rd ed forthcoming)
  • Halsbury’s Laws of Hong Kong: Constitutional Law, vol 16 (2015)(with Justice Bokhary NPJ and others) (a special commemorating volume)(Sweet & Maxwell, 2015), 886 pp;
  • Righteousness – The Rule of Law (正道-法治) (Ming Pao Publications Ltd, 2020), 399 pp (in Chinese)
  • Righteousness – The Academia (正道-大學) (Ming Pao Publications Ltd, 2019), 315 pp (in Chinese)

Recent Journal Articles

  • “The Power of the Chief Executive to Grant Amnesty” (2019) 48(3) Hong Kong Law Journal            865-882
  • “Ten Days that Shock the World: The Rendition Proposal in Hong Kong” (2019) 48 (2) Hong Kong Law Journal 431-445
  • “Maintaining Institutional Strength: The Court, the Act of State, and the Rule of Law”, in Fiona de Londras and Cora Chan (eds), China’s National Security and Hong Kong’s Rule of Law (Cambridge: Hart Publishing), Ch 14, 251-274
  • “A Shrinking Space: A Dynamic Relationship between the Judiciary in a Liberal Society of Hong Kong and a Socialist-Leninist Sovereign State”, (2019) 72 Current Legal Problems
  • “Proportionality after Hysan: Fair Balance, manifestly without Reasonable Foundation, and Wednesbury Unreasonableness” (2019) 49 Hong Kong Law Journal 2-30
  • “Application of Article 6 of the ECHR to administrative decisions: The Experience of a Common Law Jurisdiction”, in R Weber, M Notter and A Heinemann (eds), Europäische Idee und Integration – mittendrin und nicht dabei (Zurich: Schulthess, 2018), 37-49
  • “A Storm of Unprecedented Ferocity: Shrinking Space for Political Rights, Public Demonstrations and Judicial Independence in Hong Kong” (2018) 16(2) International Journal of Comparative Constitutional Law 373-388
  • “Vindicatory Damages in Public Law”, in John Bell, Mark Elliott, and Jason Varuhas (ed), The Unity of Public Law (Hart Publishing Ltd, 2018), 327-350
  • “Behind the Text of the Basic Law: Some Constitutional Fundamentals”, in Rosalind Dixon & Adrienne Stone (eds), An Invisible Constitution (Cambridge University Press, 2018), 231-267
  • “Hong Kong Constitutional Journey 1997-2011”, in Albert Chen et al (eds), Comparative Asian Constitution (Cambridge University Press, 2014), pp 169-193
  • “Constitutional Protection of the Right to be Presumed Innocent and the Right against Self-Incrimination: The Hong Kong Experience”, (2013) Singapore Academy of Law Journal 679-71
  • “Administrative Law”, in S Young and Y Ghai (eds), Hong Kong’s Court of Final Appeal: Justice and Development of the Law in China’s Hong Kong (Cambridge University Press, 2014), pp 417-446

HKSAR v Benny Tai and others, CACC 128/2019

Occupy Central – Conspiracy to commit public nuisance – incitement to commit public nuisance – Whether offences constitutional – Civil disobedience – Whether sentence manifestly excessive

Kwok Wing Hang et al v Chief Executive in Council [2020] 1 HKLRD 1, CACV 541/2019

Emergency Regulations Ordinance – Whether ERO is consistent with the Basic Law – Derogation under the Bill of Rights – Whether Prohibition of Face Covering Regulation consistent with Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Right to Freedom of Expression under the Bill of Rights – Principles of Legality and proportionality

Kwok Wing Hang et al v Chief Executive in Council [2019] HKCFI 2884 (CFI); [2020] 1 HKLRD 80 (CA)

Interim relief of stay – Whether declaration of unconstitutionality Emergency Regulations Ordinance and Prohibition of Face Covering Regulation should be stayed pending appeal or whether a declaration granting temporary validity should be made

Television Broadcasts Ltd v Communications Authority and Chief Executive in Council, HCAL 47 of 2017 (CFI)

Freedom of Expression – Right to Fair Hearing – Prohibition of indirect advertising in TV Programme Code – Whether the prohibition is consistent with the right to freedom of expression – Whether the enforcement regime under the Broadcasting Ordinance is consistent with the right to fair hearing

HKSAR v Thomas Wan (2018) 21 HKCFAR 214

Conspiracy to defraud – Compensated prison visit – whether defendants “visitors” or “friends” of prisoners pending trial – presumption of innocence and prisoners’ visiting rights – defence of honest belief

HKSAR v Chui Shu Shing (2017) 20 HKCFAR 333

Managing guesthouse without licence – Whether managing includes persons exercising non-discretionary functions under immediate supervision of another – Principles governing awarding costs against unsuccessful appellants in criminal appeals

Chief Executive of the HKSAR v President of the Legislative Council [2017] 4 HKLRD 115(CFI)

Right to Election – Oath-taking – Disqualification of 4 elected members of the Legislative Council on the ground of declining or refusing to take the oath – Meaning of a proper oath and consequences of failing to take a valid oath

Television Broadcasts Ltd v Communications Authority and Chief Executive in Council [2016] 2 HKLRD 41 (CFI)

Right to Fair Hearing – Judicial Review – Competition law – This is the first case on competition law in Hong Kong – what is the proper approach and the standard of proof in competition cases – whether the competition regime in the sector-specific broadcasting industry is compatible with the right to fair hearing under the Bill of Rights

Kong Yunming v Director of Social Welfare (2013) 16 HKCFAR 950 (CFA)

Judicial Review – Right to social welfare  – the first CFA case on the right to social welfare under the Basic Law – the proper approach to social and economic rights – whether an increase of the residence requirement from 1 year to 7 years is consistent with the right to social welfare.

Asia Television Co Ltd v Telecommunications Authority [2013] 3 HKLRD 618 (CA); (2013) 16 HKCFAR 773 (CFA)

Judicial Review – disclosure of identity of informers in an investigation into anti-competitive conduct of a domestic free television licensee

Penny’s Bay Investment Co Ltd v Director of Lands (2010) 13 HKCFAR 287 (CFA)

Reclamation and Compensation – foreclosure of foreshore and seabed – constitutional right not to have property expropriated without proper compensation – proper approach to assessment of compensation – whether betterment arising from a planning scheme which has since been withdrawn can be relied upon to offset the compensation payable for the foreclosure

Lam Siu Po v Commissioner of Police (2010) 12 HKCFAR 237 (CFA)

Judicial review – constitutional right to legal representation – whether statutory restriction on the right to legal representation before police disciplinary tribunal consistent with the right to fair hearing under the Bill of Rights – linkage between pecuniary embarrassment and impairment of operational efficiency in the disciplinary offence of pecuniary embarrassment impairing operational efficiency – this case has led to over 80 judicial review applications against disciplinary conviction and a review of disciplinary procedures in all law enforcement agents and some professional bodies in Hong Kong

Solicitor v Law Society of Hong Kong (2006) 9 HKCFAR 175 (CFA)

Legal Professional Privilege – whether production order of clients’ documents in a professional disciplinary enquiry violated the right to legal professional privilege

Ho Choi Wan v Housing Authority (2005) 8 HKCFAR 628 (CFA)

Judicial review – public housing – rent adjustment mechanism – median rent to income ratio – whether legislative restriction of setting a ceiling for an increase in rent in public housing included a duty to reduce the rent.

Town Planning Board v Society for the Protection of Harbour Ltd (2004) 7 HKCFAR 1 (CFA)

Judicial review – extent of permissible reclamation of Harbour – proper test for reclamation – overriding public interest test – a leading case that effectively stops any reclamation within Victoria Harbour

Commissioner of Rating & Valuation v Agrila Ltd (2001) 4 HKCFAR 83 (CFA)

Rating and valuation – difference between ratability and ratable value – assessment of ratable value for the purpose of Government rent for development and redevelopment sites during the period of construction which attract no ratable value under the Rating Ordinance – whether “ratable value” in the Basic Law bears the same meaning as that in the Rating Ordinance

Wong Yeung Ng v Secretary for Justice [1999] 2 HKLRD 293 (CA)

Contempt of court – leading case on scandalizing the court – whether such contempt is consistent with freedom of expression under the Bill of Rights and the Basic Law – the real risk test