Teresa Cheng (politician)

The Honourable
Teresa Cheng
4th Secretary for Justice of Hong Kong
Assumed office
6 January 2018
Appointed by Carrie Lam
Preceded by Rimsky Yuen
Personal details
Born (1958-11-11) 11 November 1958
British Hong Kong
Spouse(s) Otto Poon
Residence Villa de Mer, Siu Lam
19 Severn Road, The Peak
Alma mater King's College London (BSc)
University of London (LLB)
Profession Arbitrator, barrister, engineer, politician

Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah, GBS, SC, JP (Chinese: 鄭若驊; born 11 November 1958) is a Hong Kong Senior Counsel, arbitrator and politician. She has been the Secretary for Justice of Hong Kong since 6 January 2018. She was also the chairperson of the Financial Dispute Resolution Centre, the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (HKIAC) and vice-president of the International Council of Commercial Arbitration (ICCA).

Cheng graduated from the King's College London with the Bachelor of Science in Engineering and the University of London with the Bachelor of Laws. She was called to the Bar in England and Wales and Hong Kong in 1987 and in New South Wales, Australia in 1990, before Singapore in 1995. She was called to the Hong Kong Inner Bar in 2000.[1] She has then been practising at the Des Voeux Chambers, specialising in construction, international commercial transactions, joint venture contracts and investment arbitration, international arbitration and mediation.[1] She has also sat as a Deputy Judge in the Court of First Instance of the High Court of Hong Kong.[2]

Cheng also holds several academic positions. She is a Fellow of King's College London, previously an honorary and visiting professor of the China University of Political Science and Law and the course director of the International Arbitration and Dispute Settlement Course at the School of Law, Tsinghua University and Adjunct Professor with the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Cheng co-authored numerous books and articles, including "Construction Law and Practice in Hong Kong" and "Arbitration in Hong Kong: A Practical Guide", published by Sweet & Maxwell, and papers in the "International Council for Commercial Arbitration Congress Series", published by Kluwer Law International.[3]

Public career

She has been appointed in various positions, previously serving as the chairperson for the Provisional Minimum Wage Commission, Transport Advisory Committee, Town Planning Appeal Board, Environmental Impact Assessment Appeal Board Panel, the Appeal Tribunal (Buildings) Panel and the Copyright Tribunal among others. She is the current chairperson of the Financial Dispute Resolution Centre and Air Transport Licensing Authority and a member of the Construction Industry Council and two Working Groups on Mediation in Hong Kong.[2]

She is also the chairperson of the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (HKIAC) and vice-president of the International Council of Commercial Arbitration (ICCA). She was the first Asian woman to be elected as president of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb). In 2006 and 2011, she was awarded the Bronze Bauhinia Star and Gold Bauhinia Star by the Chief executive Donald Tsang in recognition of her public service.[2]

On 5 January 2018, Chief executive Carrie Lam announced her appointment as the Secretary for Justice with effect from the following day, succeeding the retiring Rimsky Yuen.[4]

Illegal structures controversy

Ming Pao and Apple Daily revealed on 5 January 2018, just before Cheng was due to take office, that there was an extra staircase seemingly leading to illegal structures in her residence at Villa de Mer, Siu Lam, Tuen Mun. She apologised for the "inconvenience caused" by the illegal structures, admitting it was illegal but arguing that the basements and rooftop structures in question on both properties existed before she bought the residence.[5] Lawrence Lok Ying-kam SC asked Cheng to consider her resignation.[6] Further reports, confirmed by Buildings Department inspectors, revealed that there were ten unauthorised extensions, including the basements and the rooftop structures, on Cheng's residence and an adjacent property belonging to her husband, Otto Poon Lok-to. It emerged in the media reports in the following days that a mortgage deed Cheng signed with the bank for the house did not mention the basement.[7]

Personal life

Cheng is married to engineer Otto Poon Lok-to, former president of the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers. Their relationship was unknown to the public until she admitted to the public after the media widely reported the "illegal structures" of her residence next to Poon's.[8]

See also


Political offices
Preceded by
Rimsky Yuen
Secretary for Justice
Order of precedence
Preceded by
Paul Chan
Financial Secretary
Hong Kong order of precedence
Secretary for Justice
Succeeded by
Andrew Leung
President of the Legislative Council
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