Liable for Unlawful Assembly and Riot by Virtue of Liking or Comment on Social Media Platforms?

Date01 December 2021
Published date01 December 2021
DOI10.1177/00220183211054691
Subject MatterCase Notes
Liable for Unlawful Assembly
and Riot by Virtue of Liking or
Comment on Social Media
Platforms?
Secretary for Justice v TongWai Hung [2021] HKCA 404
Trevor TW Wan
Bachelor of Social Sciences (Government and Laws) and Bachelor of Laws Candidate, The
University of Hong Kong
Thomas Yeon
PCLL Graduate, The University of Hong Kong
Abstract
In Secretary for Justice v Tong Wai Hung [2021] HKCA 404, the Hong Kong Court of Appeal
aff‌irmed that the doctrine of joint enterprise, as a matter of statutory construction, is applic-
able onwards to the offences of unlawful assembly and riot under the Public Order Ordinance
(Cap. 245), and physical presence at the crime scene is not a pre-requisite to establish liability.
The Court argued that such an interpretation strikes a balance between public order concerns
and the need to avoid the risk of over-charging. This note contends that the Court of Appeals
decision will risk exposing numerous citizens, who can hardly be said to share culpability com-
parable to that of the actual and principal perpetrators of unlawful and riotous assemblies, to
prosecution and conviction on questionable legal and evidential basis.
Keywords
joint enterprise, Hong Kong, unlawful assembly, riot, protest, secondary liability, Jogee,
accessorial liability, complicity, common purpose
The doctrine of joint enterprise (JE) in criminal law in Hong Kong has been based for many years on
the Privy Councils decision in Chan Wing-siu v R [1985] 1 AC 168. Despite the seminal judgment of the
UK Supreme Court in R v Jogee; Ruddock v The Queen [2016] AC 387 which overruled Chan Wing-siu,
Corresponding author:
Trevor TW Wan, Bachelor of Social Sciences (Government and Laws) and Bachelor of Laws Candidate, The University of Hong
Kong, Hong Kong, Hong Kong.
Email: trevortw@connect.hku.hk
Case Note
The Journal of Criminal Law
2021, Vol. 85(6) 480484
© The Author(s) 2021
Article reuse guidelines:
sagepub.com/journals-permissions
DOI: 10.1177/00220183211054691
journals.sagepub.com/home/clj

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