On 12 October 2020, the Court of Final Appeal gave judgment for the Applicant, holding that on a proper interpretation of the Country Parks Ordinance (Cap 208), s 5(1)(b) (the “Provision“), the Country and Marine Parks Authority (the “Respondent“) is statutorily bound to consult the Country and Marine Parks Board (the “Board“) in respect of the assessment of certain enclaves for the purpose of designation of country parks (the “Assessments”).  This includes assessments and decisions not to recommend the designation of certain enclaves.

The Provision stipulates that the Board “shall– consider and… advise the [Respondent] on, the policy and programmes prepared by the [Respondent] in respect of country parks and special areas, including proposed country parks and special areas…”

The matter turned on the true construction of whether such assessments and decisions fell within the definition of “policy and programmes” referred to in the Provision.

It was held that the word “policy” imported more generality and refers to a “course or set of general principles“.  On the other hand, the word “programme” is more specific and is capable of indicating a specific plan of action or a series of intended actions for the implementation of policy.

It was held that the Assessments fell within the definition of “programmes” under the Provision as they were actions taken to implement the policy of protecting certain enclaves, and were matters “in respect of” their surrounding country parks.

Mr Nigel Kat SC appeared for the Applicant, leading Mr Earl Deng and instructed by Vidler & Co (assigned by Director of Legal Aid).

The full text of the judgment can be found here.