Cheung Chau resident Kwok Cheuk-kin has filed for judicial review with the High Court, seeking to abolish the small house policy rights of indigenous residents of the New Territories.

Kwok, who has been dubbed “the king of judicial review”, is challenging the Home Affairs Bureau and the Lands Department in his action, Stand News reported. However, the writ did not reveal further details about the application.

Kwok Cheuk-kin
Kwok Cheuk-kin. File

Under the Small House Policy, male indigenous villagers who are descendants of a male line from a recognised village in the New Territories may apply to build a small house, once in their lifetimes, on their own land at zero premium, or on public land through a private treaty grant.

In December, 11 indigenous villagers from Sha Tin were found guilty of illegally transferring their land rights to developers. A couple of days later, the High Court rejected a claim brought by five Sheung Shui indigenous villagers against a law firm representing a developer in a land dispute, ruling that the villagers were just as guilty as the developer.

Previously, Kwok has lodged judicial review challenges against the replacement arrangements for vacancies in the Legislative Council and the August 31 decision of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress on electoral reform, as well as seeking a ruling that the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau had failed to hold Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying accountable for not disclosing a conflict of interest in Australian company UGL.

In a separate action, a student also applied on Tuesday for judicial review to challenge the revised financial arrangements for the city airport’s three-runway system. The student is protesting the decision to amend the charging structure for the airport passenger fee from the original across-the-board level of HK$180 to differing fees based on the service class and length of flight. The amendment was announced on September 29, meaning the three-month time limit for applying for judicial review expires on Tuesday.

Earlier this month, former Bar Association chair and retired Court of Final Appeal judge Henry Litton said that the system of judicial review is being abused in Hong Kong. “Judicial review is not available for challenges to government policy,” Litton had said. “That is a fundamental rule in the separation of powers.” However, other prominent legal figures in Hong Kong disagreed with his view that the system is being abused.

Karen cheung hong kong

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.