The Appeal Committee hears and determines applications for leave to appeal. It consists of three judges: either the Chief Justice and two permanent judges or three permanent judges nominated by the Chief Justice. The decision of the Appeal Committee is final and not itself subject to appeal.

In a civil matter, where leave to appeal has been refused by the Court of Appeal, the Appeal Committee may grant leave to appeal to the Court of Final Appeal if the question involved in the appeal is one of great general or public importance or if it considers the appeal ought otherwise to be submitted to the Court of Final Appeal.

In a criminal matter, the Appeal Committee may grant leave to appeal if it has been certified by the Court of Appeal or the Court of First Instance (as the case may be) that a point of law of great and general importance is involved in the decision. Where the court below has refused such a certificate, the Appeal Committee may itself so certify the matter and grant leave. There is also a residual category of case in which the Appeal Committee may grant leave to appeal on the ground that a substantial and grave injustice has been done.

When should an application for leave to appeal be made?

An application for leave to appeal must be filed within 28 days from the date of the judgment or decision to be appealed from. In the case of civil appeals, the applicant must also give the opposite party 7 days’ notice of his intended application which may be given at any time during the period of 28 days.

The Rule 7 procedure

Where the Registrar is of the opinion that an application discloses no reasonable grounds for leave to appeal, or is frivolous or fails to comply with the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal Rules (Cap. 484A), he may issue a summons to the applicant, calling upon him to file written submissions and show cause before the Appeal Committee why the application should not be dismissed. The Appeal Committee may, after considering the matter, order that the application be dismissed without a hearing or give such other directions as the justice of the case may require.