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42 Hong Kong L.J. 1 (2012)

handle is hein.journals/honkon42 and id is 1 raw text is: IN MEMORIAM: WILLIAM JAMES SILKE (1929-2012)
An announcement was published in the South China Morning Post on
20 January 2012 at the lower left hand comer of page C4. It was a notice
of the death of William James (Bill) Silke, barrister at law, [sometime]
Judge of North Borneo (Sabah), Malaysia and Hong Kong, Lately
Judge of the Court of Appeal, Brunei Dar-as-Sulam, and the Court of
Final Appeal, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China, on
17 January 2012.
This modest notice probably escaped the eyes of most readers, except
perhaps the former colleagues, counsel and friends of Mr Justice Silke
in Hong Kong.' The passing of Mr Justice Slike is a time to remember
his 30-odd years of judicial service in Hong Kong, from the Tenancy
Tribunal of Hong Kong2 to the Court of Final Appeal of the Hong Kong
Special Administrative Region (HKSAR).3 It is, moreover, a time for the
judge's successors in the law (both on the bench and in the profession)
to appreciate his presidency as Vice-President of the Court of Appeal
of a division of that Court determining in September 1991 how the
Hong Kong Bill of Rights should be interpreted and how the protection
of the rights enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights (ICCPR)4 as applied to Hong Kong should, through the
provisions of the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance,5 be administered
by the Hong Kong courts.
The case in question was R v Sin Yau Ming.6 It concerned the
compatibility of presumptions in the Dangerous Drugs Ordinance7 with
the presumption of innocence enshrined in the Hong Kong Bill of Rights.
The Court of Appeal in that case considered and found assistance in the
General Comments and Views of the United Nations Human Rights
Committee, the treaty body of the ICCPR, the decisions of the European
The author thanks Hartmann JA for making reference of the notice to him in conversation on
the date of its publication in the South China Morning Post.
2 See Cheung, Steven, Rent Control and Housing Reconstruction: The Postwar Experience of
Prewar Premises in Hong Kong (1979) 22(1) Journal of Law and Economics 27-53.
1 Mr Justice Silke took office as a Non-Permanent Judge of the Court of Final Appeal on 28 July
1997 and retired from that office in 2009. He sat in the Court of Final Appeal in cases including
Secretary for Justice v Chan Wah (2000) 3 HKCFAR 459; Secretary for Justice v To Kan Chi
(2000) 3 HKCFAR 481; and Director of Lands v Yin Shuen Enterprises Ltd (2003) 6 HKCFAR 1.
His last sitting in the Court of Final Appeal was in Aug 2006 in an application arising out of
the order of the Court in To Kan Chi.
4 Ie the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (adopted by the United Nations
General Assembly on 16 Dec 1966, entered into force on 23 Mar 1976) 999 UNTS 171.
5 Ie (Cap 383).
6 Ie [1992] 1 HKCLR 127 (Silke V-P, Kempster and Penlington JJA).
I Ie (Cap 134).

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