Citation: The Honourable Mr. Justice Syed Kemal Shah BOKHARY, GBM, JP Doctor of Laws, honoris causa


The Honourable Mr. Justice Syed Kemal Shah BOKHARY, GBM, JP Doctor of Laws, honoris causa


A citation written by Professor Huen WONG


Professor HU, it is my pleasure and delightful duty to present to you The Honorable Mr. Justice BOKHARY, Syed Kemal Shah BOKHARY, affectionately known as “Kemy” to his friends.


Justice BOKHARY is truly a legacy of Hong Kong and a live example of the success story of a thoroughbred Hong Kong boy, who epitomises the “Hong Kong Dream.”


Kemy was born in Hong Kong on 25 October 1947, the youngest son in his family. His father Daoud BOKHARY came to Hong Kong in 1945 as a member of the British Indian Liberation Force. The family of Kemy’s mother, Halima nee ARCULLI, a familiar name in our community, had settled in Hong Kong since 1841, that is before Hong Kong became a British Colony. As a child, Kemy used to speak a mixture of English, Cantonese and Urdu and spent a lot of time playing with other children all over Tsimshatsui and Kowloon Tong. With this background, Kemy is more of a “Hong Konger” than many of us here.


Justice BOKHARY went to St. Francis Xavier’s College and completed his secondary education at King George V School so that he could take the GCE examinations in order to allow him to continue his education in England. He went to London in 1967 and read law for the Bar. Justice BOKHARY was called to the English Bar in 1970 by the Middle Temple. In 1971 he was admitted to the Hong Kong Bar.


Justice BOKHARY was appointed a Queen’s Counsel in 1983. Between 1971 and 1989 he practised in Hong Kong and before the Privy Council in London. His practice was principally in commercial law and public law. Justice BOKHARY was appointed to the High Court in 1989 and elevated to the Court of Appeal in 1993. In 1997 he was further elevated to become one of the founding justices of the Court of Final Appeal which was established in that year to take over the Privy Council’s role as Hong Kong’s court of last resort.


The Court of Final Appeal’s most important function is to interpret and apply Hong Kong’s constitution, the Basic Law pursuant to which Hong Kong has, under the “one country two systems” principle, a system different from that of the rest of China.


From 1997 to 2012, Mr. Justice BOKHARY was a Permanent Judge of the Court of Final Appeal and participated in almost every constitutional case which came before that Court. Since 25 October 2012, he has been a Non-Permanent Judge of that Court, hearing appeals from time to time. For his distinguished public service and his significant contribution to the judiciary of Hong Kong SAR, Justice BOKHARY was awarded the Grand Bauhinia Medal in 2012. A well-earned reward for his contribution towards legal education in Hong Kong is his receipt of an honorary doctorate of laws from the University of Hong Kong of which he is also an Honorary Professor.


On the bench, Justice BOKHARY is well known for his ex tempore judgments.

Almost all his Court of First Instance judgments were rendered at the last hearing date or on the following day. He believes that the best time to deliver a judgment is at the conclusion of a trial when the memory of the facts, the evidence and Counsel’s submissions are still fresh on his mind. This explains why Justice BOKHARY could churn out a bewildering number of important landmark judgments particularly in the realm of constitutional law which are universally recognised as most inspiring authorities for legal practitioners both in Hong Kong and in the Region.


Justice BOKHARY is married to Mrs. Justice Verina BOKHARY, a judge of the High Court. They have three daughters and all are law graduates. Justice BOKHARY still remembers fondly the moment he first met Verina when she came into his chambers for an interview for her pupilage. He will reassure you that without Verina, he would never have achieved what he has done in his life. In addition to their work in the law, Mr. and Mrs. Justice BOKHARY devote their time to each other, to their children and their grandchildren.


Justice BOKHARY is now serving as a Non-Permanent Judge of the Court of Final Appeal. He is an Honorary Bencher of the Middle Temple and an Honorary Life Member of the Hong Kong Bar Association.


As already mentioned, Justice BOKHARY is a big supporter of legal education in Hong Kong. He is the Chairman of the Advisory Board and the Academic Board for the Post-Graduate Certificate of Law programme at the School of Law of the Chinese University of Hong Kong and the Honorary Patron of the University of Hong Kong’s Advocacy and Mooting Society. In recognition of his outstanding achievements, Justice BOKHARY was the “Recipient of the King George V School Principal’s Outstanding Alumni Award for 2013”.


Justice BOKHARY is a prolific scholar, writer and editor. In 2013, he published two books; the “Recollection” and “The Law is a Crocodile.” The former is his memoirs and the latter reflects on the fundamentals of law as well as its practical effect on our daily lives. Justice BOKHARY distills the essence of the law whilst being profound, subtle and learned. It serves as an inspiration to those practising the law and those who are about to study law.


In editing work, Justice BOKHARY is the General Editor of:

(1) Bullen, Leake & Jacob Hong Kong;

(2) Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal Reports; and

(3) Hong Kong Law Reports & Digest.


The Editor-in-Chief of:

(1) Tort Law and Practice in Hong Kong; and

(2) Archbold Hong Kong.


He is also an International Advisory Editor of Malaysian Civil Procedure 2013 and the Chairman of the Editorial Board of Halsbury’s Laws of Hong Kong.


As a devoted supporter of charitable work, Justice BOKHARY is a member of the Executive Committee of “Helping Hand”, the Chairman of the Middle Temple Society in Hong Kong and the President of the Hong Kong Kennel Club.


To complete the picture of Justice BOKHARY’s lifetime commitment and dedication to public duties, I feel obliged to mention some of his public offices he has held. He is the Past Chairman of:


(1) Pharmacy and Poisons Appeal Tribunal;

(2) Civil Court Users Committee;

(3) Deportation Tribunal;

(4) City University of Hong Kong Law Faculty’s Law and Professional Legal

Education Department Advisory Committee;

(5) The Advocacy Institute of Hong Kong;

(6) Advisory Board of the Centre for Criminology at the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Hong Kong; and

(7) The Judicial Member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP).


He has also served as a Member of the Academy of Experts’ Judicial Committee, the Law Faculty of the City University of Hong Kong and the Law Reform Commission.


Without a doubt, Justice BOKHARY is the golden boy of Hong Kong. His legacy extends far beyond the judicial appointments and public offices he has occupied. His passion for the law, his belief in liberty and human rights, his integrity and dignity have taught us to understand the importance of being true to one’s values and principles. We are grateful beyond words for what he has done for Hong Kong. He has demonstrated how a Hong Kong dream can come true.


Justice BOKHARY is no stranger to Shue Yan University, having lectured here at its formative years and being a close family friend of Dr. HU and Dr. CHUNG.


Professor HU, it is therefore my privilege to commend to you the Honorable Mr. Justice BOKHARY so that you may confer upon him the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.


Source: December Issue 2014

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