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Dr THOMSON, Stephen

LL.B. (Hons.) (First Class) (Edinburgh)
LL.M. (Res.) (by Thesis) (Edinburgh)
Ph.D. (Edinburgh)
Dip.L.P. (Edinburgh)
Legal Adviser to the Ombudsman of Hong Kong

Associate Professor
JSD Programme Director
Research Degree Coordinator

Dr THOMSON, Stephen

Contact Information

Office: LI-6204
Phone: +(852)-3442-6592

Research Interests

  • Administrative law (including judicial review)
  • Constitutional law
  • Equity and equitable jurisdiction

Dr. Stephen Thomson is an Associate Professor in the School of Law, City University of Hong Kong.  He is a Legal Adviser to the Ombudsman of Hong Kong, a member of the Constitutional Affairs and Human Rights Committee of the Law Society of Hong Kong, and an examiner on the Overseas Lawyers Qualification Examination. He was recently a Herbert Smith Freehills Visitor at the Faculty of Law, University of Cambridge.

Dr. Thomson is author of 'Administrative Law in Hong Kong' (Cambridge University Press, 2018), the leading text on the subject, carrying a foreword by Hon. Andrew Li, first Chief Justice of the Hong Kong SAR.  Dr. Thomson is also the author of the first and only text to systematically examine the nobile officium, the “extraordinary equitable jurisdiction” of the Supreme Courts of Scotland.  His book carries a foreword by Rt. Hon. The Lord Hope of Craighead, first Deputy President of the UK Supreme Court, and has been positively cited by the Inner House of the Court of Session (the supreme civil court in Scotland) in Cumbria County Council, Petitioners [2016] CSIH 92, and by the Scottish Land Court in Grains v Gifford's Executors, 2016 GWD 31-552. He has published in a number of leading journals including Harvard Journal of Law & TechnologyPublic LawMelbourne University Law ReviewCivil Justice Quarterly, Texas International Law Journal and the University of Pennsylvania Journal of International Law.

Dr. Thomson was awarded his Ph.D. by the University of Edinburgh for his thesis 'The Constitutional Basis of Judicial Review in Scotland', under the supervision of Prof. Chris Himsworth and Prof. Neil Walker.  He also holds the degrees of LL.B. (Hons.) (First Class), LL.M. (Res.) (by Thesis) and Dip.L.P. from the University of Edinburgh, and studied at the University of Leuven (Belgium) under an Erasmus Exchange Scholarship.  In addition to his academic work, Dr. Thomson worked at a UK law firm and has acted in a consultancy and advisory capacity to public bodies and law firms in both Hong Kong and the UK.



  • Award for High Impact in Legal Scholarship (The Chinese University of Hong Kong)

Grants, Funding and Scholarships

  • Lee Hysan Foundation Research Grant
  • Endowment Fund Research Grant
  • Direct Grant for Research (The Chinese University of Hong Kong)
  • Grant for Writing of Legal Textbooks (Clark Foundation for Legal Education)
  • Principal's Career Development Ph.D. Scholarship (University of Edinburgh)
  • Pritchard Educational Trust Scholarship (Law Society of Scotland)
  • Erasmus Exchange Scholarship (European Commission)


  • Legal Adviser to the Ombudsman of Hong Kong (by statutory appointment)
  • Constitutional Affairs and Human Rights Committee, Law Society of Hong Kong (member)
  • Overseas Lawyers Qualification Examination (examiner)

Visiting Appointments

  • Herbert Smith Freehills Visitor, Faculty of Law, University of Cambridge (2018)

Selected Publications

  • S. Thomson (with a foreword by Hon. Andrew Li CBE, GBM, JP), Administrative Law in Hong Kong (Cambridge University Press, 2018) (available for purchase)
  • S. Thomson (with a foreword by Rt. Hon. The Lord Hope of Craighead KT, PC, FRSE), The Nobile Officium: The Extraordinary Equitable Jurisdiction of the Supreme Courts of Scotland (Avizandum, 2015) (available for purchase)

Book Chapters

  • S. Thomson, 'The Enforceability of Ombudsman Remedies and Competition with Judicial Review' in M. Groves and A. Stuhmcke (eds), Ombudsmen in the Modern State (Hart Publishing, 2021) (forthcoming)
  • S. Thomson, 'The Influence of English Judicial Review on Scots Judicial Review: A Tale of Resemblance and Distinctiveness' in S. Jhaveri and M. Ramsden (eds), Judicial Review of Administrative Action across the Common Law World: Origins and Adaptation (Cambridge University Press, 2019) 81-97
  • S. Thomson, 'Governance and Digital Transformation in Hong Kong' in D. Feldner, Redesigning Organizations (Springer, 2020) 229-238
Journal Articles
  • S. Thomson, 'Ombudsmen As Courts' (2020) 41 Oxford Journal of Legal Studies (forthcoming)
  • S. Thomson & E.C. Ip, 'COVID-19 Emergency Measures and the Impending Authoritarian Pandemic' (2020) 7 Journal of Law and the Biosciences 1-33 DOI: (access online)
  • S. Thomson & E.C. Ip, 'COVID-19 Emergency Measures are Hurting Democracy Globally' (2020) 110(9) American Journal of Public Health 1356-1357 (access online)
  • S. Thomson, 'Letterhead Bias and the Demographics of Elite Journal Publications' (2020) 33(1) Harvard Journal of Law & Technology 203-267 (access online)
  • S. Thomson, 'Dare to Diverge:  Time for Administrative Law in Hong Kong to Stand on its Own Two Feet' (2019) 7(3) The Chinese Journal of Comparative Law 435-456 (access online)
  • S. Thomson, 'Brexit, Boris Johnson and the Nobile Officium' (2019) 12 Journal of Civil Law Studies 295-304 (access online)
  • S. Thomson, 'The New Constitutional Disorder:  The Unlawful Application of Mainland Chinese Law to Hong Kong' (2019) 54(1) Texas International Law Journal 115-148 (access online)
  • S. Thomson, 'Going Global:  An International Profile of Legal Research in Hong Kong's Law Schools' (2019) 49(1) Hong Kong Law Journal 29-55 (access online)
  • S. Thomson, 'Judicial Review and Public Law: Challenging the Preconceptions of a Troubled Taxonomy' (2017) 41(2) Melbourne University Law Review 890-927 (access online)
  • S. Thomson, 'The Public Sector Ombudsman in Greater China:  Four 'Chinese' Models of Administrative Supervision' (2017) 39(2) University of Pennsylvania Journal of International Law 435-490 (access online)
  • S. Thomson, 'Clutter and Cobwebs:  How Administrative Tribunals in Hong Kong can learn from the UK' (2017) 36(3) Civil Justice Quarterly 363-386 (access online)
  • S. Thomson, 'The Doctrinal Core of the Supervisory Jurisdiction of the Court of Session' [2016] Public Law 670-689 (access online)
  • S. Thomson, 'Leave Without Delay:  The Requirement to Make Prompt Application for Leave to Apply for Judicial Review' (2015) 45(2) Hong Kong Law Journal 449-468 (access online)
  • S. Thomson, 'The Nobile Officium:  Still Relevant, Still Useful' (2015) (Dec) Journal of the Law Society of Scotland (access online)
  • S. Thomson, 'Mixed Jurisdiction and the Scottish Legal Tradition:  Reconsidering the Concept of Mixture' (2014) 7(1) Journal of Civil Law Studies 51-91 (access online)
  • S. Thomson, 'The Nobile Officium in Civil Jurisdiction:  An Outline of Equitable Gap-Filling in Scotland' (2014) 29 Tulane European & Civil Law Forum 125-146 (access online)
  • S. Thomson & M. McKeown, 'Sources of Law and the UK Honours System' (2012) 14 Scots Law Times 81-85
  • S. Thomson, 'Scots Equity and the Nobile Officium' (2010) 2 Juridical Review 93-114
  • S. Thomson & M. McKeown, 'The Role of the House of Lords in a Hung Parliament' (2010) 19 Scots Law Times 99-103
Book Reviews
  • S. Thomson, Review of V.V. Palmer, M.Y. Mattar and A. Koppel (eds), 'Mixed Legal Systems, East and West' (Ashgate, 2015) (2017) 9(2) Journal of Civil Law Studies 535-538 (access online)

Unpublished Papers and Presentations

  • 'The Impact of English Judicial Review on Scots Judicial Review' (2017) Indigenising Administrative Law Symposium, Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore
  • 'The 20th Anniversary of What?  Continuity and Change in Hong Kong's Constitution' (2017) International Conference on the Evolution of the Constitutional Order of the HKSAR:  Theoretical and Comparative Perspectives, Centre for Chinese and Comparative Law, City University of Hong Kong
  • 'Hong Kong's Obscene Articles Tribunal:  The Tip of the Separation of Powers Iceberg' (2017) Administrative Law in the Common Law World (access online)
  • 'Administrative Tribunals in the Hong Kong SAR:  In Need of Reform?' (2017) School of Law, Tsinghua University, China
  • 'Must Judicial Review be Classed as a Branch of Public Law?'(2016) Cambridge Public Law Conference, University of Cambridge, UK
  • 'Administrative Supervision in Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan: Similarities and Contrasts'(2016) Boya Public Law Lecture, Constitutional and Administrative Law Centre, Peking University, China
  • 'Chinese Conceptions of the Ombudsman:  Convergence or Divergence?' (2016) Centre for Asian Law and Centre for Comparative Constitutional Studies, University of Melbourne, Australia
  • 'Constitutional and Legal-Systemic Implications of Judicial Narrative in the Context of Judicial Review:  Towards a General Theory' (2015) Faculty of Law, University of Auckland, New Zealand
  • 'Judicial Perceptions and Treatment of Scottish and English Jurisprudence:  A Case Study of Mixed Pedigree of Sources in Scots Judicial Review'(2015) Fourth Worldwide Congress of the World Society of Mixed Jurisdiction Jurists, Faculty of Law, McGill University, Montreal, Canada
  • 'The Nobile Officium:  Principles and Practice' (2015) Lecture at the Faculty of Advocates and Supreme Courts of Scotland, Parliament House, Edinburgh, UK
  • 'Constitutional Codification in an Independent Scotland:  Is It Really Necessary?' (2014) Scottish Constitutional Futures Forum (access online)
  • 'The Nobile Officium in Civil Jurisdiction:  An Outline of Equitable Gap-Filling in Scotland' (2013) Eason Weinmann Center for Comparative Law and the World Society of Mixed Jurisdiction Jurists International Conference, 'Filling the Gaps:  The Study of Judicial Creativity and Equity in Mixed Jurisdictions and Beyond', Department of Social and Political Sciences, University of Catania, Italy
  • 'An Emerging Hierarchy of Constitutional Norms?  Parliamentary Supremacy and the Rule of Law from a Scottish Perspective' (2012) Centre for European Constitutionalisation and Security, Faculty of Law, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
  • 'The Nobile Officium of the Court of Session' (2011) Seminar on 'Equity as a Source of Law and Legal Decisions' (convener), Centre for Law and Society, School of Law, University of Edinburgh, UK
  • 'The Supervisory Jurisdictions and Judicial Review of the Upper Tribunal:  The Cases of Eba v Advocate-General for Scotland and R. (on the application of Cart) v The Upper Tribunal' (2011) Scottish Young Legal Researchers Colloquium, University of Dundee, UK
  • 'The Courts and the Constitutional Framework of the United Kingdom:  A Case Study in Judicial Review and the Constitutional Frontier with the European Union' (2011) Guest lecture (LL.M.) at the Faculty of Law, National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, Ukraine