A Hong Kong law firm which handled multiple cases related to the 2019 protests is to cease practising soon, the umbrella group representing the city’s solicitors announced on Thursday.

The Law Society of Hong Kong notified members that Vidler & Co. intended to cease practice on June 3 after 19 years of operations.

Michael Vidler
File photo: Catherine Lai/HKFP.

The firm, which specialised in human rights issues, had handled several controversial incidents, including an alleged police gang rape and the case of Indonesian journalist Veby Mega Indah, who was allegedly shot in the face with a police projectile.

See also: Interview: Defending the downtrodden and battling bigotry – rights lawyer Michael Vidler

The notice said the firm had filed a Notice of Intention to Cease Practice in accordance with the Law Society’s rules, which require firms to give at least eight weeks’ notice.

Senior partner Michael Vidler declined to comment when contacted by HKFP.

Rights cases

Veby Mega Indah lost an eye after being hit, allegedly by a police projectile, while covering a protest on September 29, 2019.

Vidler’s law firm had filed an application in the High Court in December 2019 to reveal the identity of the perpetrator, but Vidler told Ming Pao in February 2020 that his firm no longer represents her.

Veby Mega Indah
Journalist Veby Mega Indah after being injured by a police projectile. She later lost her sight in one eye. Photo: Supplied.

The firm also represented a woman who alleged that she had been raped in the Tsuen Wan Police Station on September 27, 2019. The then-Police Commissioner Chris Tang had told a district council meeting that officers were investigating the case as an attempt to “mislead police” since the claim was not consistent with video evidence.

Legal representatives from the law firm then said in a statement that Tang was trying to “publicly discredit” the woman.

Aside from protest cases, Michael Vidler was also a prominent lawyer on LGBTQ and gender issues. In 2004, he challenged the law prohibiting those under the age of 21 from engaging in gay sex, compared to age 16 for heterosexual sex. The court ruled that the higher age of consent for gay men was discriminatory.

Lawyer exits

In early March, Paul Harris, the former head of the Bar Association which represents barristers, flew to Britain hours after he was reportedly summoned to a meeting with national security police. According to reports at the time , the meeting was related to NGO Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor, of which Harris was the founding chairperson.

Paul Harris
Paul Harris. FIle photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

The rights group had been accused by state-run media of colluding with foreign forces and playing a “major role” in the anti-extradition protests in 2019.

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Peter Lee is a reporter for HKFP. He was previously a freelance journalist at Initium, covering political and court news. He holds a Global Communication bachelor degree from CUHK.