The Jurisprudence and Administration of Legal Interpreting in Hong Kong (1966–2016)

Ester S M LEUNG*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Legal interpreting and translation are some of the oldest and most frequently practised bilingual activities in Hong Kong. The principles and operation of the bilingual legal system actually impinge on the legal interpreting services and the practices of legal interpreting services also in ways impact on the system itself. This study adopts a historical approach to analyse the jurisprudence and administration of legal interpreting in Hong Kong courts from 1966 to 2016 (half a century), across the 1997 dividing line between British colonial rule and the return of Hong Kong to the government of mainland China. It focuses on the opinions of judges and other participants in courtroom proceedings as recorded in Hong Kong case reports. It is discovered that the jurisprudence of having an interpreter to interpret for participants who do not speak the language of the court is clearly indicated and well versed in the precedents. However, there is a gap between the jurisprudence and the actual interpreting services, mainly caused by the malpractices of the concerned administration department(s) and some of the law enforcement agents working in the frontline.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-116
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal for the Semiotics of Law
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2019

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Law

User-Defined Keywords

  • Administration
  • History
  • Jurisprudence
  • Legal interpreting


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