2018 Supreme Court of Queensland Oration

The 2018 Supreme Court of Queensland Oration Criticism of the courts and judges: informed criticism and otherwise will be presented by The Honourable Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma Tao-li GBM, Chief Justice of the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal.

Time: 5.15 for 5.30pm start
Date: Monday 21 May 2018
Venue: Banco Court, Queen Elizabeth II Courts of Law, Level 3, 415 George Street, Brisbane
Registration: online closes Monday, 14 May 2018.

Join us for refreshments in the Portrait Gallery after the lecture.

For more information, email events@sclqld.org.au or phone 07 3006 5130.

CPD points: 1 point per hour, self assessed (BAQ and QLS)


The freedom of speech and of the press are proven precious rights, not only in Hong Kong but throughout common law jurisdictions. They benefit society and no one and no institution, especially public ones, should be exempt from either adverse comment or criticism. However, where the public interest is adversely affected, different considerations come into play. In the context of the courts, there has been a noticeable trend that criticism of the work of the courts and of judges has become much less restrained than before, even sometimes to the point of being personal and at times abusive. Ought we be able to brush such criticisms aside or can more be done to enable criticisms to be based on commentators being better informed? After all, one valid criticism of the law is that not enough is done to explain how the administration of justice works in practice. What does ‘being better informed’ actually mean and is relevant information about the courts readily available in the first place? These are questions that provoke a discussion about the rule of law itself, particularly in Hong Kong.


The Honourable Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma Tao-li GBM was appointed Chief Justice of the Court of Final Appeal on 1 September 2010.

Chief Justice Ma was born in Hong Kong in 1956. He studied law and graduated with an LLB from Birmingham University in 1977. After completing the Bar Finals in 1978, he was called to the English Bar (Gray’s Inn) in 1978, the Hong Kong Bar in 1980, the Bar of the State of Victoria in Australia in 1983 and the Bar of Singapore in 1990. He was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1993. He became an Honorary Bencher of Gray’s Inn in 2004. In 2011, he was admitted to the degree of Doctor of Laws (honoris causa) by the University of Birmingham. In 2012, he became an Honorary Fellow of Harris Manchester College, Oxford. In 2016, he became an Honorary Bencher of the Middle Temple and was admitted to the degree of Doctor of Laws (honoris causa) by the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Chief Justice Ma was appointed a Recorder of the Court of First Instance from 2000 to 2001 before his appointment as a Judge of the Court of First Instance in 2001. He was appointed a Justice of Appeal in 2002, and became Chief Judge of the High Court in 2003. Before joining the Judiciary, Chief Justice Ma was in private practice in Hong Kong and in Singapore.
Chief Justice Ma is a Patron of the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law and is a Patron of the International Advocacy Training Council.
Chief Justice Ma was awarded the Grand Bauhinia Medal in June 2012.