About Keith 賀傑峰

‘For some people education is a value in itself, something to be sought after because the more educated we are, the more civilised we become. Through education we become better people, more sensitive, able to appreciate the true and the beautiful, able to find sophisticated pleasures in the world; we become better citizens.’  – Prof Ian Craib – my university tutor.

Keith Hotten – I have been a barrister for almost 29 years, having been Called to the Bar of England & Wales in 1990 (Middle Temple) and Hong Kong in 2000 – as a practising lawyer I represent private clients in family and children’s matters as well as undertaking criminal defence and prosecution and some limited High Court Commercial work. As Dr. H. – academia loves titles and lists of degrees – I am also very privileged to teach in the Faculty of Law at the University of Hong Kong where I run a post-graduate course in ‘Matrimonial Practice and Procedure’ as well as teaching criminal law and professional practice. I am an Associate Academic at Manchester Metropolitan University and also a CEDR and HKIAC accredited mediator, I conduct mediations for private clients in family and wider civil litigation disputes. I am a member of the Examining Panel of the Higher Rights Assessment Board (2012- present).

賀傑峰我當了大律師已經超過29年。早於1990年在英國和威爾士(Middle Temple) 2000年在香港獲得大律師資格。作為執業律師,我主要處理家事和兒童事務,以及在刑事案件中當辯護律師。

作為H博士我很榮幸在香港大學法律系執教鞭,負責一個研究生課程-婚姻訴訟和程序(Matrimonial Practice and Procedure)、刑事法(Criminal Law)和專業實踐(Professional Practice)另外作為一位英國糾紛解決中心(CEDR和香港國際仲裁中心認可調解員,我除了為私人客戶在家事糾紛進行調解之外,也替更廣泛的民事訴訟糾紛進行調解。在香港,我積極參與及促進各訴訟外紛爭解決制度(替代性糾紛解決)。我也是較高級法院出庭發言權評核委員會(2012)成員之一。

Unlike most of my contemporaries I already had greying hair by the time I signed the Call book at the Middle Temple – a very proud day for my parents, particularly my mother, who struggled breathless into the Middle Temple Hall, knowing she was dying from cancer. Having purchased a new three-piece suit so expensive it could only have been made from the chest hairs of a privately educated sheep, I completed a year in pupillage in Building and Construction Law at 39 Essex Street. After that, initially merely to get some court advocacy experience – to coin a phrase – I turned to crime and later children’s law and divorce and have not looked back since. So my slightly late start has been no real disadvantage.  My university education up to doctoral level was in social sciences, philosophy and literature and I regard this as an enormous privilege that has, perhaps to a greater extent than the study of the law, shaped the person I am.

Closer to the legal process, my work as a research assistant for several (Labour) MPs at the House of Commons in London between 1984 to 1988 (whilst undertaking my doctoral research on British socialist economic and industrial policy) gave me a tremendous insight into the (often politically brutal) way legislation comes on to the statute books.

In America the study of law is predominately a post-graduate discipline that I am beginning to think may be a better system for producing more rounded legal professionals than embarking on an LLB at eighteen years old. By contrast in the UK there are moves afoot to turn the clock back to the pre-1970s when training for the legal profession fell outside university education completely. Whilst the study of law (like medicine) obviously requires academic ability, I think the practice of law (like surgery) is mostly about ‘skills’ (advocacy, drafting, negotiation, client care, professional conduct) that can be learned like any other and once acquired mainly requires a large measure of common sense to employ.

Either way, my guess is it is at least possible to be a competent lawyer without having read much outside the law but I am sceptical. Certainly, I have never met anyone I regard as great lawyer or an original, innovative, or resourceful one who is not also widely read.  Although I have met many crashing bores of the first order who can talk of nothing else but their day in court – invariably on a set of facts that any fledgling advocate with an ounce of common sense could have won. On the other hand I have certainly had the pleasure of being in the company of many top lawyers – academics, solicitors, counsel and judges – who are obviously well read and highly educated in the broadest sense and invariably with a wicked sense of humour. In my experience the humourless are always to be avoided like the plague and humourless lawyers particularly so. Many of our judges are often highly entertaining in private. Although it is apparently true that one English High Court judge did once enquire: ‘Who is Gazza?’ – at the height of his fame – the idea that our senior judges are Dickensian stereotypes and often wont to inquire:  ‘… and what, precisely, is a “Kyle Minogue”?’ is, at least in my experience, pure fiction. As much a part of popular mythology as having them spluttering from the bench in a powdered wig whilst banging a gavel – Hong Kong and English judges have never used gavels and the vast majority (although there are exceptions!) do a very difficult and often complex job trying to achieve justice mostly with good humour and common sense.

My main areas of research are also my areas of practice: Family and Matrimonial Law, including Child Law, Matrimonial Finance & Property (ancillary relief), Criminal Law & Evidence and Alternative Dispute Resolution.


‘By the end of the evening, all  Keith’s friends were in complete agreement with his views on politics and religion’

My Recent Publications:

  • Hotten & Ho ‘On Family Law & Divorce in Hong Kong’ 4 Vols. LexisNexis  – January 2019 – loose-leaf – two updates per year.
  • ‘The Hong Kong Family Court Practice’ 2nd Edition (with Azan Marwah & Shaphan Marwah), LexisNexis, (2015), (1600 pp)
  • Halsbury’s Laws of Hong Kong (2nd Edition) ‘Criminal Law & Procedure’ (2015)
  • The Family Law Correspondent – website – 2013
  • Halsbury’s Laws of Hong Kong (2nd Edition) ‘Family Law” (2012), LexisNexis, Vol. 28 (649 pp)
  • Australian Professional Legal Education Council (APLEC) Conference Paper: Is e-learning a boon to the provision of professional legal education or a mere fad? University of Technology, Sydney 10-12 November 2011 with Wilson Chow, Firew Kebede Tiba, and Julienne Jen
  • ‘Right to Family’ Chapter 26 (of 30) The Law of the Hong Kong Constitution Johannes Chan SC (Ed) Sweet & Maxwell 2011, (1011 pp)
  • Halsbury’s Laws of Hong Kong ‘Legal Practitioners’ (2011) Vol. 37 (476 pp.)
  • ‘The Hong Kong Family Court Practice’ LexisNexis, (2010), (1457 pp)
  • ‘Family Law Practice & Procedure in Hong Kong’, LexisNexis, (2010) (450 pp)
  • ‘Taking the Law into our Own Hands: Children & Collaborative Practice in Hong Kong’ Hong Kong Lawyer, (Feb 2009, p.57)
  • ‘The Essential Statutes on Hong Kong Matrimonial Law and Procedure’, LexisNexis (2008) (989 pp)
  • Halsbury’s Laws of Hong Kong ‘Evidence’ (2006) LexisNexis, Vol. 12(1) (451 pp)

Appeal Cases

  • LKW v. DD  FACV 16/2008; (2010) 13 HKCFAR 537  This landmark Court of Final Appeal judgment is now the leading authority on the division of matrimonial assets in ancillary relief cases in Hong Kong.
  • Re F (Contact) [1995] 1 FLR (CA) 510 Family Division Wilson. J
  • Re S [1995] 3 FCR 225 Butler-Sloss P, Simon-Brown, Ward LJJ.
  • R. v Luke Anthony Piggott & Jeffrey Simon Litwin [1999] 2 Cr.App.R (CA) 320 Court of Appeal CA (Crim. Div); [1999] All ER (D) 292, Waller LJ, Walker J and Judge Hyam, The Recorder of London – Criminal law – Indictment – Amendment of indictment – Crown applying to amend indictment after close of its case and after submission of no case to answer – Judge allowing amendment of indictment – Judge ordering re-trial – Whether second trial an abuse of process.
  • R v Ajaib and others CA 28 October 1999 [unreported]