Henry Litton
Non Permanent Judge of the Court of Final Appeal
In office
14 September 2000 – 13 September 2015
Chief JusticeAndrew Li
Geoffrey Ma
Permanent Judge of the Court of Final Appeal
In office
1 July 1997 – 14 September 2000
Serving with Charles Ching and Kemal Bokhary
Chief JusticeAndrew Li
Preceded byCourt Established
Succeeded byPatrick Chan
Personal details
Born (1934-08-07) 7 August 1934 (age 89)
Hong Kong
Spouse(s)Jennifer Lightfoot (1960)
Linda Siddall (1975-today)
ChildrenSarah Litton (b.1962)
John Litton (b.1966)
Mark Litton (b.1967)
Edward Litton (b.1976)
Georgina Litton (b.1979)
Thomas Litton (b.1980)
Parent(s)John Letablere Litton (1903-1941)
Enid Lo Tak-ching (1904-1999)
Alma materDiocesan Boys' School
Merton College, Oxford

Henry Denis Litton CBE, GBM (Chinese transliteration: 烈顯倫; born 7 August 1934) is a retired judge in Hong Kong.

Early life and education

Born into a Eurasian family in Hong Kong, Henry Litton excelled in school during his early years first at the Diocesan Boys' School in Hong Kong and then in England which he was educated at King's College, Taunton and Merton College, Oxford, where he graduated with honours in jurisprudence.[1]

His father, John Letablere Litton (1903–1941), served as a gunner in the Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Corps. He was killed in action on 18 December 1941 defending Hong Kong from Japanese attack, and was buried in Stanley Military Cemetery. His mother Enid Tak-ching Lo-Litton was a tennis player and won thirteen Hong Kong National Championships over a 24-year span. John's maternal uncle was the lawyer Sir Lo Man-kam, part of a prominent Eurasian family.[2][3]

Litton is linked to the Anglo-Irish / Huguenot Littons' clan from Dublin, whom came via Yorkshire[4] and also to politician Edward Litton.

Legal career

After passing the Bar exam in 1959, Litton entered into private practice in Hong Kong where he was eminently successful as a trial lawyer. Litton was appointed Queen's Counsel in 1970 and co-founded the Hong Kong Law Journal with Gerald de Basto QC, another local barrister. He also served as Chairman of the Bar Association from 1971 to 1973, from 1977 to 1980 and again from 1983 to 1985.

Litton was appointed in 1987 an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for his contribution to the law[5] and was elevated to the bench in 1992 as a Justice of Appeal. He rose steadily through the ranks, becoming Vice-President of the Court of Appeal in 1995 and a Permanent Judge of the Court of Final Appeal (Hong Kong's court of last resort) in 1997, when British colonial rule in Hong Kong ended and China resumed its sovereignty over the region.

He assumed senior status three years later, citing personal reasons. Until 2015, he continued to hear cases on a part-time basis as a non-permanent judge of the Court he served.[6][7]

In 2007, Litton was appointed a Judicial Commissioner, as well as a Justice of Appeal, of the Supreme Court of Brunei Darussalam.[8]

Post-judicial life

In 2019, Litton released his book Is the Hong Kong Judiciary Sleepwalking to 2047?, in which he criticised numerous aspects of Hong Kong's legal system, focusing particularly on the misuse of judicial reviews in recent years.[9] He also argued that courts ought not serve as a “debating chamber” to challenge government policy.[10]

Litton is known to be a great advocate of environmentalism; his wife Linda Siddall was a founder and Director of Friends of the Earth (HK)[11] and Litton himself its patron. He is also an avid player of tennis. Litton's son John continues the family's legal eminence, practising at the London and Hong Kong bar since 1989, taking silk in 2010.


  1. ^ Levens, R.G.C., ed. (1964). Merton College Register 1900–1964. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. p. 446.
  2. ^ "Enid Tak Jing Litton".
  3. ^ The Hong Kong Telegraph, 1930-11-22
  4. ^ "Edward Litton, Q.C., Member of Parliament for Coleraine".
  5. ^ "No. 50948". The London Gazette (Supplement). 12 June 1987. p. 15.
  6. ^ Patsy Moy (9 April 2010). "Called to the Court of Final Appeal". The Standard. Archived from the original on 29 June 2011. Retrieved 23 April 2010.
  7. ^ "Mr Henry Denis LITTON, GBM". Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal. Retrieved 2 February 2016.
  8. ^ "Brunei Darussalam Newsletter (Volume 22, Issue 29)" (PDF). Brunei Darussalam Prime Minister's Office (Department of Information). 15 May 2007. p. 4.
  9. ^ "2019.01.21 Henry Litton, GBM, CBE – Book Launch: Is the Hong Kong Judiciary Sleepwalking to 2047?". YouTube. Archived from the original on 21 December 2021.
  10. ^ "Legal challenge on co-location 'should have been thrown out'". South China Morning Post. 22 January 2019.
  11. ^ Yun-Wing Sung; Anthony Lawrence; Lok Sang Ho (22 January 1991). The Other Hong Kong Report 1991. Chinese University Press. p. 403. ISBN 9622015387.
Legal offices Preceded byGerald de Basto Chairman of Hong Kong Bar Association 1971–1973 Succeeded byGerald de Basto Preceded byCharles Ching Chairman of Hong Kong Bar Association 1977–1980 Succeeded byMartin Lee Preceded byMartin Lee Chairman of Hong Kong Bar Association 1983–1985 Succeeded byDenis Chang New office Permanent Judge of the Court of Final Appeal 1997–2000 Served alongside: Charles Ching, Kemal Bokhary Succeeded byPatrick Chan Order of precedence Previous:William PurvesRecipient of the Grand Bauhinia Medal Hong Kong order of precedenceRecipient of the Grand Bauhinia Medal Succeeded byLi Ka-shingRecipient of the Grand Bauhinia Medal