The Court of Final Appeal of Hong Kong is the court with the final adjudication power on the laws of Hong Kong.
Before 1 July 1997, Hong Kong was a British dependent territory, and the power of final adjudication on the laws of Hong Kong was vested in the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London. The sovereignty of Hong Kong was transferred from the United Kingdom to the People's Republic of China on 1 July 1997, and the Court of Final Appeal was thereby established in Central, Hong Kong. Since then, it serves as the court of last resort, thus executing the power of final adjudication on the laws of Hong Kong.
Under the Basic Law, the constitutional document of Hong Kong, the special administrative region remains a common law jurisdiction. Judges from other common law jurisdictions (including England and Wales) can be recruited and serve in the judiciary according to Article 92 of the Basic Law.
The court has the power of final interpretation with regard to all laws in force in Hong Kong save the Basic Law. The power of interpretation of the Basic Law is vested in the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress of China (NPCSC) by virtue of Article 158 of the Basic Law. However, the same Article delegates such power to the courts of Hong Kong for interpretation while handling court cases. Although this arrangement has attracted criticism of "undermining judicial independence", an interpretation by the NPCSC does not affect any court judgments already rendered. Controversy regarding this power of interpretation arose in the right of abode issue in 1999.
Since its inception, the court has been located in the Former French Mission Building, in Central.The Hong Kong Government is planning to relocate it to the present Legislative Council Building, which was originally designed to be a law court and was once the location of the colonial Supreme Court (1912-1985), in 2011.