Tutorial 3 Legal System.docx - Tutorial 3 Q&A The Legal...

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Tutorial 3 Q&A The Legal System of the HKSAR At about 6:05 pm on 30 July 2007, a vehicle (JY9387) was captured by a digital red light camera (installed by the police) showing that it had gone through a set of red lights while northwest-bound on Sau Mau Ping Road at the junction with Sau Ming Road. Prosecution was made under section 63 of the Road Traffic Ordinance, Cap. 374 (“the RTO”). The relevant facts are not in dispute. The registered owner of the vehicle is Mr R E Latker. By a Notice Requiring Identity of Driver dated 2 August 2007 (issued under section 63(1) of the RTO), Mr Latker was requested by the police to identify within 21 days, the driver of the vehicle (JY9387) at the relevant time referred above. This was stated to be on the basis that the driver of the vehicle was suspected of having committed a traffic offence, namely, failing to comply with traffic signals. At the back of this document was a warning that the maximum penalty for failure to comply was a fine of $10,000 and 6 months’ imprisonment. No reply to the Notice having been received, a final reminder was sent to Mr Latker on 3 September 2007. A month later, the police telephoned Mr Latker indicating that he would be prosecuted if he did not reply. Mr Latker said that he was willing to co-operate “provided that he was not compelled to forfeit rights protected by the Basic Law”. An information was laid on 20 November 2007 charging Mr Latker with his failure to respond to the demand from the police for details of the driver of the vehicle at the relevant time. At the hearing of this traffic summons on 21 February 2008 before the Magistrate , Mr D I Thomas, Mr Latker pleaded not guilty. Although the facts outlined above were not in dispute, Mr Latker gave evidence, essentially telling the Magistrate that he regarded the matter as one of principle and that it was a matter of “civil cowardice” if he agreed to provide the particulars sought regarding the identity of the driver. The Magistrate, in a Verdict delivered on 8 May 2008 held that section 63 contravened the Bill of Rights, therefore ceased to have effect and accordingly found Mr Latker not guilty. The summons before him was dismissed. The prosecution then applied to the Magistrate for a review and having heard submissions, affirmed his previous ruling and dismissed the application for review. In view of the importance of the matters raised, the Secretary for Justice appealed and The Hon Mr Justice LAM directed that the appeal be heard by the Court of Appeal.
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