Prosecutions Division (Hong Kong)

The Prosecutions Division (刑事檢控科) of the Department of Justice, is the public prosecution office in Hong Kong. The Prosecutions Division is the largest in the Department, with about 125 lawyers, known as 'Public Prosecutors', and about 115 lay prosecutors, known as 'Court Prosecutors'. The role of the Division is to prosecute trials and appeals on behalf of Hong Kong, to provide legal advice to law enforcement agencies upon their investigations, and generally to exercise on behalf of the Secretary for Justice the discretion of whether or not to bring criminal proceedings in Hong Kong. In addition, counsel in the Division provide advice and assistance to Government bureaux and departments in relation to any criminal law aspects of proposed legislation.

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The Director of Public Prosecutions ("DPP") heads the Division as a Law Officer of the Department of Justice. The 6th and current Director of Public Prosecutions is Mr David Leung, SC.

The DPP is responsible for directing the conduct of trials and appeals on behalf of Hong Kong, providing legal advice to law enforcement agencies (such as Hong Kong Police, Custom and ICAC), exercising the discretion of whether to institute criminal proceedings, and providing advice to others in government on proposed changes to the criminal law.

The lawyers of the Prosecution Division in the former British Hong Kong colonial administration were, before 1997, titled "Crown Counsel"(檢察官). After the transfer of sovereignty of Hong Kong, they were renamed "Government Counsel" (政府律師). In 2007, to highlight their constitutional independence, lawyers working in the Prosecutions Division adopted the alternative title of "Public Prosecutor" (檢控官). While being a senior counsel is not a requirement, all Directors of Public Prosecutions have already been appointed as SC's since the creation of this office.

Former Crown Prosecutors

  1. David Boy, QC (1979-1982)
  2. Max Lucas, QC (1982-1984)
  3. Joseph Duffy, QC (1984-1986)
  4. James Findlay, QC (1986-1989)
  5. Anthony Duckett, QC (Acting, 1989-1990)
  6. John Wood, CB, JP (1990-1994)
  7. Peter Nguyen, QC, SC (1994-1997)

Directors of Public Prosecutions

No. Name Took office Left office Tenure length Higher education Further judicial appointments Notes
1 Peter Van Tu Nguyen, SBS, QC, SC 1 July 1997 14 October 1997 106 days Inns of Court School of Law Judge of the Court of First Instance (1997-2008)
  • Assumed the role of DPP
  • Shortest serving DPP
2 Ian Grenville Cross, SBS, QC, SC 15 October 1997 21 October 2009 12 years and 7 days University of Southampton (LLB)
  • First DPP to be appointed
  • Last QC to be appointed DPP
  • First DPP to not take a judicial role
  • Longest serving DPP
3 Ian Charles McWalters, SC 22 October 2009 9 February 2011 1 year and 111 days University of Sydney (BA, LLB) Judge of the Court of First Instance (2011-14)

Justice of Appeal of the Court of Appeal (2014-)

  • First SC to be appointed DPP
4 Kevin Paul Zervos, SC 25 March 2011 8 September 2013 2 years and 168 days Monash University (BS, LLB) Judge of the Court of First Instance (2013-18)

Justice of Appeal of the Court of Appeal (2018-)

5 Keith Yeung Kar-hung, SC 9 September 2013 8 September 2017 4 years and 0 days University of Hong Kong (LLB, PCLL) Deputy Judge of the Court of First Instance (2018-19)

Judge of the Court of First Instance (2019-)

  • First local Hong Kong Chinese DPP
  • First DPP to be appointed from private practice
6 David Leung Cheuk-yin, SC, JP 29 December 2017 Incumbent 1 year and 350 days University of Hong Kong (LLB, LLM)

Note: The Justice of the Peace (JP) designation is only valid for the incumbent DPP


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