The “King of judicial review” Kwok Cheuk-kin – known for taking the government to court over political matters – has filed a challenge over a decision to ban him from applying for legal aid. He said that Executive Council member Ronny Tong should represent him in the case.

On June 6, the Legal Aid Department decided to ban the 78-year-old judicial activist from receiving legal aid for three years, citing an “abuse of the system.” Over the past three years, 21 of Kwok’s legal aid applications were either rejected or retracted.

The department cited the Legal Aid Regulations which state that the director of legal aid may place a blanket ban – up to a maximum of three years – on anyone who has been rejected on four or more occasions and whom is regarded as abusing the system.

Kwok Cheuk-kin
Kwok Cheuk-kin. Photo: In-Media.

Kwok filed a judicial review over the decision on Monday against Deputy Director of Legal Aid (Application & Processing) Chris Chong and Senior Legal Aid Counsel Simon Lau.

Kwok said it was an abuse of power to order a blanket ban on receiving legal aid and the department had wrongly cited the law.

He said his applications were all based on different causes or matters every time, and he had not been rejected multiple times over the same matter.

Kwok said outside court that Ronny Tong had stated that the decision by the Legal Aid Department was incorrect: “You have said a lot in newspapers – please, you should help.”

ronny tong
File photo: In-Media.

After the ban in June, Tong – who had yet to become an Executive Councillor – told local media that Basic Law Article 35 stipulates that Hong Kong residents have the right to institute legal proceedings against the acts of the executive authorities, and the Department shall not decide whether a person has abused the system by the number of applications.

Tong also said that the courts had not ruled that Kwok’s actions amounted to an abuse.

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.