Simon Li Fook-sean GBM (Chinese: 李福善; 19 April 1922 – 26 February 2013) was a Hong Kong senior judge and politician.

Simon Li Fook-sean
Simon Li Fook-sean.jpg
Acting Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Hong Kong
In office
Appointed bySir Edward Youde
Preceded byDenys Roberts
Succeeded byDenys Roberts
Personal details
Born(1922-04-19)19 April 1922
Hong Kong
Died26 February 2013(2013-02-26) (aged 90)
Hong Kong
SpouseMarie Veronica Lillian Yang
ChildrenSimon Li
Joseph Li
Gladys Li
Stephen Li
Paul Li
Alma materKing's College
University of Hong Kong
University College London

Education and judiciary careerEdit

Li was educated at the King's College between 1937 and 1941 and then the University of Hong Kong. He also spent time studying on the Mainland China. He studied law at the University College London from 1947 to 1950 and was called to Lincoln's Inn Bar in London in 1951.[1] He also received the honoris causa degree of Doctor of Laws from the Chinese University of Hong Kong conferred on him in 1986.

He returned to Hong Kong and became a crown counsel in Hong Kong's Legal Department in 1953. He became the judge of the District Court in 1963.[1] Li was the first Chinese judge to be appointed to the High Court in 1971 and was elevated to Justice of Appeal in 1980. He was the first Chinese to be appointed to the Vice-President of the Court of Appeal in 1984.[2] In 1986 he became the first Hong Kong Chinese to act as Chief Justice for the then Chief Justice Denys Roberts. He retired in 1987 at the age of 64 as the colony's most senior Chinese judge.[1]


After the Sino-British Joint Declaration was signed in 1984 which determined that Hong Kong's sovereignty to People's Republic of China in 1997, Li was appointed to the Independent Monitoring Team on the Assessment Office to monitor the acceptability of the Sino-British Draft Agreement.[1] He subsequently was appointed by the Beijing government to many positions during the transition period. He was a member of the Hong Kong Basic Law Drafting Committee, a Hong Kong Affairs Adviser, and deputy director of the preliminary working committee of the Preparatory Committee for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.[1]

In the 1996 First Hong Kong Chief Executive election, Li campaigned against Yang Ti-liang, who succeeded Denys Robert as Chief Justice; Peter Woo, tycoon and son-in-law of Y. K. Pao, and the eventual winner Tung Chee-hwa.[1] Li initially supported Lo Tak-shing for the Chief Executive race. After Lo withdrew, Li announced his own candidacy and became the last of the four to join the race.[3] Li failed to get enough nominations, receiving just 43 votes, and was eliminated in the election. Tung won a landslide victory in the election by the 400-member Selection Committee orchestrated by the Beijing government. In 1997, Li received Hong Kong's highest honour, the Grand Bauhinia Medal.

Public servicesEdit

Li also held numerous positions including the vice-chairperson of Fu Hong Society, honorary steward of the Hong Kong Jockey Club, director of his family owned Bank of East Asia, director of King's College Old Boys' Association School Board, director of Rev. Joseph Carra Education Fund, council member of the Society for Rehabilitation, honorary president of the Scout Association of Hong Kong, chairman of the Insurance Claims Complaints Board, and director and chairman of the Widow and Orphan Pension Board.

He also established the Mr Li Koon Chun Memorial Fund and the Dr Simon Li Fook Sean and Madam Yang Yen Ying Fund for supporting the finances of the Chinese University of Hong Kong.[2]

Death and familyEdit

Li suffered from ill health and was sent to hospital with a chronic respiration problem in about 2012. He died of heart failure at the Hong Kong Sanatorium and Hospital surrounded by his family on 26 February 2013 at the age of 91.[1]

His brother Ronald Li Fook-shiu was the chairman of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and was jailed for corruption in 1991. His nephews include former Legislative Councillor David Li Kwok-po, the Bank of East Asia chairman and Arthur Li Kwok-cheung, deputy chairman at the bank, former Secretary for Education and former Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.[1]

Simon Li had four sons and one daughter. His second son Joseph Li died suddenly in Britain in 1995. His only daughter Gladys Li was the ex-chairwoman of the Hong Kong Bar Association and member of the Civic Party. She also represented the domestic helpers in the Vallejos v. Commissioner of Registration.

Li is of Waitun village, Heshan, Guangdong ancestry.[4]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Moy, Patsy (28 February 2013). "Obituary: Simon Li, the trailblazing judge who took on Tung Chee-hwa". South China Morning Post.
  2. ^ a b "Dr the Honourable Simon Li Fook Sean". Chinese University of Hong Kong.
  3. ^ Cheng, Joseph Y. S. (1997). The Other Hong Kong Report 1997. Chinese University Press. p. 41.
  4. ^ "David Li's family has a history of success - and controversy".
Legal offices
Preceded by Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Hong Kong

Succeeded by