Mark Strachan SC, KC leading Jeffrey Chau appeared for the Appellant, Professor Chan, against RGC concerning its finding that there was plagiarism in Professor Chan’s research proposal and the penalty imposed on him.

The appeal raised important points such as the scope of the “academic judgment immunity” and when a court can refuse to grant any relief on the basis that the judicial review has become academic.

The Court of Appeal allowed the appeal in respect of the issue on penalty only. In so doing, the Court of Appeal ruled that the fact that penalty had already been served by the time of the judicial review proceedings does not mean that the matter has become academic or that no useful purpose can be served by granting the relief sought.   When the decision is erroneous in law, it ought to be quashed.

It is also of note that the Court of Appeal left open the issue of whether the concept of “fair labelling” in the criminal context, namely, that “the label applied to an offence ought fairly to represent the offender’s wrongdoing” can be applied in the judicial review context. The ground was rejected because it was a new ground not advanced in the Court below. It is expected that this novel point may arise in future cases.

The judgment can be found here.