Former Supreme Court of Canada chief justice Beverley McLachlin to be judge in Hong Kong

Hong Kong's top court has appointed former Supreme Court chief justice Beverley McLachlin to sit as a non-permanent judge of the Court of Final Appeal.

McLachlin joined by Baroness Brenda Hale, current head of U.K.'s supreme court

Former chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada Beverley McLachlin will sit as a non-permanent member of Hong Kong's Court of Final Appeal once she is confirmed by Hong Kong's Legislative Council. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

Hong Kong's top court has appointed former Supreme Court chief justice Beverley McLachlin to sit as a non-permanent common-law judge on the Court of Final Appeal.

McLachlin, who recently retired from Canada's Supreme Court, will take up her new role once her appointment is endorsed by the Legislative Council, an elected body in Hong Kong that functions as a parliament or legislature.

The Court of Final Appeal routinely invites judges from other common law jurisdictions to be non-permanent members and has included judges from the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand over the years.

The court was established in July 1997, replacing the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London as the highest appellate court in the former British colony, now a special administrative region of China.

The court can have up to 30 non-permanent judges at any one time. At present there are three non-permanent Hong Kong judges and 12 non-permanent common-law judges.

When hearing an appeal the court sits with five judges, the chief justice, three permanent judges and one non-permanent judge that is either a Hong Kong judge or a common-law judge. 

McLachlin stepped down from the Supreme Court in December after 28 years, including almost 18 years as chief justice.

She is being appointed along with Baroness Brenda Hale from the U.K.. Hale is the first woman to sit as president of the U.K.'s Supreme Court, a position she took up in October. 

When Hale and McLachlin are confirmed the court's number of non-permanent common-law judges will rise from 12 to 14. 

Baroness Brenda Hale, the U.K.'s top judge, is being appointed at the same time as McLachlin. (www.npg.org.uk)

With files from The Canadian Press

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