Constitutional law is relevant if you believe that the actions of another person (public authority or ordinary citizen) infringed your constitutional rights, such as the right to freedom of speech, freedom of assembly or right to equality. You may also bring an action claiming that a law effective in Hong Kong goes against constitutional principles and thus should be amended or made ineffective. The Constitutional document for the HKSAR is the Basic Law.
Greg was born in Hong Kong and immigrated to Canada for work in 2004. When his employment contract terminated in 2010, he returned back to Hong Kong and applied for financial assistance under the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) Scheme. However, the Director of Social Welfare rejected his application on the basis as one of the requirements to obtain CSSA assistance was for the applicant to have continuously resided in Hong Kong for at least 1 year prior to the date of application, “continuous” meaning that he could not have been out of Hong Kong for more than 56 days in the preceding year. Greg did not understand the rationale for this requirement and wishes to challenge its constitutionality.
This example case is based on the facts of Yao Man Fai George v Director of Social Welfare  HKC 180. In that case, the applicant successfully challenged the constitutionality of the CSSA’s 1-year continuous residence requirement on the basis that it infringed his rights under the Basic Law, namely, the right to social welfare, the right to travel, and the right to equality before the law. As a result of this case, the CSSA’s 1-year continuous residence requirement was abolished. When ruling on constitutional cases, courts are likely to take special consideration of the wider political, economic and social implications of their decisions.
Disclaimer: The article is for reference only and should not be construed or relied on as legal advice in whatsoever manner. Please engage a solicitor to seek formal legal advice. LegalClarus does not provide legal advice.