Hong Kong Legal System
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3. How are the Common Law and the Rules of Equity operating in Hong Kong?

The most distinguishing feature of common law is the reliance on the doctrine of precedent when making court judgments. It is not restricted to judicial decisions generated within Hong Kong but case law from all jurisdictions throughout the common law world. Article 84 of the Basic Law provides that the Hong Kong courts may refer to case precedents from other countries under common law jurisdictions. In addition, the Court of Final Appeal and the Hong Kong Judiciary are given the power to invite judges from other common law jurisdictions to participate in the judicial processes.

The major distinction between common law and the rules of equity is that common law remedies are available as of right, while remedies in equity are discretionary. The court does not have to grant an equitable remedy where it regards the behaviour of the party seeking such an equitable award does not deserve such an award. The usual equitable remedies include injunction (a court order requiring someone to stop doing something) and specific performance (a court order requiring one of the parties to a contract to perform his/her part of the contract).

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