The Faculty of Law is sad to share with colleagues, alumni, students and the profession the passing of Patrick Yu (BA 1942) on 12 January 2019. Patrick was one of the Faculty’s founding fathers. He was an early advocate of a law school for Hong Kong and, as one of the first members of the University Grants Committee, he was closely involved in establishing the Department of Law at HKU in 1969. In his memoirs he recalls being ‘naturally overwhelmed with pride and satisfaction to see the law school for which I had been clamouring for some twenty years become a reality’.
Over the past 50 years Patrick deepened his connections with the Faculty, returning often to give lectures, and becoming a friend and mentor to staff, students and graduates, several of whom served their pupillages in his chambers. In recognition of his many contributions to legal education and to society, the University conferred on him an honorary fellowship in 1998 and the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws in 2013.
Patrick Yu was one of Hong Kong’s foremost criminal barristers in a career that spanned several decades. Some of his most celebrated cases are recounted in two volumes of memoirs, which have become essential reading for law students. They are a permanent record of his consummate forensic skills and his success in securing justice for defendants, many of whom were from poor backgrounds. Patrick’s advice to students was that success depended on solid hard work and detailed planning and thought. He stressed the importance of ethics and conscience – advice that he exemplified throughout his long life with his own uncompromising moral courage.
Staff, students and alumni will long remember Patrick as a friend and supporter of the Faculty. We join his family, the profession and the community in mourning his passing. And we are indebted to his many contributions to the law and legal education during his long and exemplary life.