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Drafting Legislation in Hong Kong

Drafting Legislation in Hong Kong
A Guide to Styles and Practices

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Drafting Legislation in Hong Kong

Drafting Legislation in Hong Kong: A Guide to Styles and Practices is a collection of guidelines for drafting Hong Kong laws. It has been compiled by counsel of the Law Drafting Division of the Department of Justice, who draft all Government legislation.


The Guide provides a useful insight into the styles and practices used to draft Government Bills and subsidiary legislation. It is informative and practical and explains drafting styles and practices in general terms, illustrating them with hundreds of examples. It provides valuable guidelines on drafting issues from the arrangement of provisions to writing in plain language. Among the many questions it answers are—

  • How are Hong Kong’s laws structured?
  • How do you draft in gender-neutral language?
  • Should you use “shall” or “must” to impose an obligation in legal writing?
  • What is the form of an offence provision?

Understanding the considerations that go into the design and writing of legislation enhances access to the law. With this in mind, the Guide aims to facilitate a clearer understanding of the law by statute users and to promote uniformity in drafting practices across both government and non-government legislation in Hong Kong.

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Hypertext links are provided for numerous internal and external references in the Guide. These links are indicated by the cursor, which will change to a hand when placed over hypertext.

  • The Bookmark and Table of Contents are linked to specific parts of the Guide.

  • Internal links connect cross-references within the Guide, e.g. “see Chapter 4” or "see paragraph 3.2.7".

  • Hyperlinks are provided for references to legal texts that are freely accessible online, e.g.

    • References to legislation such as “Section 159G of the Crimes Ordinance (Cap. 200)” are directly linked to the relevant pages on BLIS (Bilingual Laws Information System).


    • References to LegCo papers are linked to the relevant documents on the Legislative Council website.

Contact us  
Comments on the Guide may be sent to:  ldd@doj.gov.hk.



How Legislation is Made in Hong Kong - A Drafter's View of the Process

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How Legislation is Made in Hong Kong, published by the Department of Justice, explains the key features of the legislation-making process in Hong Kong. It - How Legislation is Made in Hong Kong - A Drafter's View of the Process


  • explains what legislative drafting is and who does it in Hong Kong
  • gives a brief account of the structure and functions of the Law Drafting Division of the Department of Justice (LDD)
  • describes how legislation is drafted in LDD
  • explains how the Chief Executive, in consultation with the Executive Council, carries out the functions of approving proposals for primary legislation (Bills) and making subsidiary legislation
  • sets out the process which Bills undergo in the Legislative Council, giving an indication of how long that usually takes, and explains how the Legislative Council supervises subsidiary legislation
  • briefly mentions how legislation is commenced and how you may find out if a provision is in operation
  • concludes with a short description of some initiatives put in place by the Department of Justice and LDD to improve the quality of and accessibility to legislation.

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Internal and external links are provided for in the publication. All are invisible links which will be indicated by a hand only when you hover your cursor over the relevant contents.

References to legislation are not linked but the legislation can be accessed in this website.

Contact us  
Comments on the publication may be sent to: ldd@doj.gov.hk.

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