John Reading BBS, SC.

In 25 years as a public prosecutor in Hong Kong John appeared in all types of criminal cases, including trials at all levels and appeals to the Court of First Instance [Magistracy Appeals], the Court of Appeal, the Privy Council [pre-July 1997] and the Court of Final Appeal.

As Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions between 2000 and 2009, he handled many of the more difficult and complex criminal cases, provided comprehensive legal advice where necessary, and then, at various times, represented the HKSAR or the Secretary for Justice in proceedings before all the criminal courts.

Whilst he has handled the most serious of criminal cases [both as prosecutor and legal advisor], including murder, manslaughter, rape, and major drug trafficking, he has a particular interest in white collar crime, money laundering and cases involving corruption.

Since entering into private practice in January 2010, John has appeared for the defence in cases in the Magistrates Court, the District Court and the Court of First Instance, the Court of Appeal, and the Court of Final Appeal, where he has represented defendants in trials, pleas in mitigation, applications for bail and appeals against both conviction and sentence.

In 2013-2014, John prosecuted the Carson Yeung money laundering case.

In 2017, John prosecuted Rurik Jutting who was convicted of brutal mutilation murders of  two prostitutes. He unsuccessfully ran a defence of diminished responsibility, and his application for leave to appeal to the Court of Final Appeal was refused.

In 2018, John successfully defended a client charged with indecent assault, providing evidence for the first time in Hong Kong, in support of a defence of sexsomnia, a rare medical condition.

In 2020, John prosecuted Barry Cheung, a businessman, former Executive Councillor and a close associate of a former Chief Executive, for fraud on the Securities and Futures Commission. Cheung was convicted and sentenced to 4 years imprisonment.

John has also provided comprehensive legal opinions in both civil and criminal matters. He has also appeared in several civil cases, including the trial and appeal in a defamation case [concerning allegations of defamation on the internet] and an application to remove an arbitrator for misconduct.



  • Hong Kong and Australian Law, particularly criminal law.
  • All types of Criminal Law at all levels.
  • A particular interest in white collar crime, including Fraud, Corruption and Money Laundering cases.
  • Commercial Disputes
  • Defamation
  • Shipping
  • Arbitration
  • Mediation



  1. Secretary for Justice v. LUI Kin-hong (1999) 2 HKCFAR 510. [Leading case on documentary hearsay in criminal matters]. John was led in this appeal by Michael Thomas QC [HK’s former Attorney General]. (John was trial counsel, and also appeared for the Respondent in the Court of Appeal).
  2. NG Siu-chau v. HKSAR (2000) 3 HKCFAR 62. Corruption case. Were apprentice jockeys employees of the HKJC?
  3. POON Chau-cheong v. SJ (2000) 3 HKCFAR 121. Power of Magistrate to review decision and to amend charges.
  4. CHIU Yu-man and Others v. HKSAR (2001) 4 HKCFAR 331. Is a letter of credit a valuable security?
  5. HKSAR v. CHU Kam-yiu and Others (2002) 5 HKCFAR 91. Were persons who were acting as conduits for bets, receiving bets as bookmakers?
  6. HKSAR v. Zabed Ali (2003) 6 HKCFAR 192. Did certain statements made by the accused constitute evidence of similar fact?
  7. LAM Chi-kwong v. HKSAR (2008) 11 HKCFAR 623 Judge comparing role of the jury to that of a board of directors and incomplete directions on majority verdicts.
  8. HKSAR v. WONG Lin-kay (2012) 15 HKCFAR 185. Is a driver employed by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, a Public Officer for the purposes of the offence of Misconduct in Public Office?
  9. Oriental Press Group and Others v. Fevaworks Solutions Limited and Another (2013) 16 HKCFAR 366 [Defamation on the Internet].
  10. HKSAR v. Carson Yeung Ka-sing DCCC No. 860 of 2011. Money Laundering. Led the prosecution team.
  11. HKSAR v. Mak Chai-kwong and Another (2016) 19 HKCFAR 1 Housing fraud case. Factual error by the judge, and an inappropriate application of the proviso by the Court of Appeal.
  12. HKSAR v. Rurik Jutting CACC No. 361 of 2016. Prosecuted a merchant banker for the gruesome murder of two foreign prostitutes and represented the respondent in the appeal.
  13. HKSAR v. Boris Anthony Finan [2019] 4 HKLRD 36 and (2020) 23 HKFAR 220.
    Defended a client charged with indecent assault. Successfully ran a unusual defence i.e. that the client was suffering from a condition known as “sexsomnia.”
  14. HKSAR v. Barry Cheung DCCC No. 718 of 2017 [CACC No. 112 of 2020]. Prosecuted a businessman, former convenor of the Executive Council and close associate of a former Chief Executive for  fraud on the Securities and Future Commission.


Speaker At International Conferences

Since 1997, John has attended a number of international conferences at which he has presented various papers relating to topics as diverse as fraud, corruption and money laundering, protecting the financial market, domestic violence, the Hong Kong ‘Constitution’ and common law criminal procedure.

Conferences and Symposia at which John has presented papers

  • 1997 - 15th Cambridge International Symposium on Economic Crime ‘Recovering the Proceeds of Crime in Hong Kong.’
  • 1999 - 4th Annual Conference and General Meeting of the International Association of Prosecutors [Beijing] ‘Confiscation of the Proceeds of Crime – the Alternative View.’
  • 1999 - 13th International Conference of the International Society for the Reform of the Criminal Law [Malta]. ‘The Fight against Fraud and Corruption from the Hong Kong Perspective.'
  • 2000 - 18th Cambridge International Symposium on Economic Crime ‘Dealing with misconduct in the Financial Markets.’
  • 2002 - 20th Cambridge International Symposium on Economic Crime ‘The Importance of “Whistle-blowing” in the detection of Fraud – the Role of Auditors.’
  • 2003 - Heads of Prosecution Agencies Conference [Darwin] ‘The Breakdown of the Constitution.’
  • 2005 - 23rd Cambridge International Symposium on Economic Crime ‘Rogue Financial Institutions and the Damage they Cause.’
  • 2005 - 10th Annual Conference and General Meeting of the International Association of Prosecutors [Copenhagen]. ‘Expert or Opinion Evidence in Common Law Jurisdictions.’
  • 2007 - Criminal Law Conference for LawAsia [Tokyo] Papers on (1) Video recording of interviews with suspects (2) Dealing with Vulnerable Witnesses.
  • 2007 - 25th Cambridge International Symposium on Economic Crime ‘Insider Dealing Offences. Do we really need them?’
  • 2007 - 25th Anniversary Conference for the Asia Crime Prevention Foundation [Tokyo]. ‘Domestic Violence in Hong Kong.’
  • 2012 - 30th Cambridge International Symposium on Economic Crime 'Anti-Money Laundering Legislation in Hong Kong.'
  • 2013 - 31st Cambridge International Symposium on Economic Crime 'Whistleblowers - Angels or Demons: Their motivation and how they are perceived.'
  • 2016 - 34th Cambridge International Symposium on Economic Crime 'Dealing with Rogue Corporations - the Hong Kong Experience'
  • 2017 - 35th Cambridge International Symposium on Economic Crime 'Proposals to Amend the Hearsay rules in Criminal cases in the Hong Kong SAR'.
  • 2020 -  “And Justice for All – the Barry Cheung Case” -  a presentation uploaded on the Cambridge International Symposium on Economic Crime website.



  • Archbold Hong Kong, current contributor for Chapter 33
  • Halsbury’s Laws of Hong Kong, Vol. 3 [‘Betting, Gambling and Lotteries’]
  • Public Health Infectious Disease, Chapter C6 [‘Infectious Diseases and the Law’]
  • Updated the current Gambling Ordinance entry in the Annotated Ordinances of Hong Kong
  • Contributed articles on fraud, money laundering and white collar crime, to various legal periodicals including Amicus Curiae [the journal of the Society of Advanced Legal Studies], the Journal of Money Laundering Control and the Journal of Financial Crime.
  • Research Handbook on International Financial Crime, Chapter 54 (International Co-operation in Fighting Financial Crime)


John Reading BBS, SC.

Tel: (+852) 2521-5544

Mobile: (+852) 9042-8840

Fax: (+852) 2524-5912

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Called to the Bar: NSW (Australia) 1978; Hong Kong 2002; Senior Counsel 1999



  • 1978 – completed the NSW Bar Exams.
  • 1981 – Diploma in Criminology, University of Sydney
  • 1990 - BA Hons. [Philosophy], Deakin University of Victoria, Australia
  • 1992 – LL.M. University of Hong Kong.
  • 1996 – Completed the Fellowship Examinations of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators.
  • 2009 – Completed the CEDR Mediation Course.
  • 2020 – M.St. [criminology], University of Cambridge.

Qualifications and Positions:

  • 1978 - Called to the NSW Bar
  • 1996 – Appointed a Fellow of the Chartered Institute Arbitrators
  • 1999 – Appointed Senior Counsel in Hong Kong
  • 2000 – Appointed an Overseas ‘Silk’ in NSW, Australia
  • 2002 – Called to the Hong Kong Bar
  • 2009 – Accredited as a CEDR Mediator.
  • 2010 – 2016 Adjunct Professor in the School of Law at the City University of Hong Kong
  • 2010 – 2017 Head of Pacific Chambers


  • Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators
  • Fellow of the Society of Advanced Legal Studies

Working Life:

  • Pre-1978 Registrar and Coroner in the NSW Courts System
  • 1978 – Public Prosecutor in NSW
  • 1984 - Public Prosecutor in Hong Kong
  • 2000 – Appointed Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions in Hong Kong
  • 2009 – Retired from the Department of Justice
  • 2010 – Commenced private practice at the HK bar.

Other Awards:

In the July 2008 Honours List, John was awarded the Bronze Bauhinia Star [BBS] for services to Hong Kong as a prosecutor for over 20 years, particularly in the area of victims’ rights.

Practice Area(s):

Alternative Dispute Resolution, Coroner's Court Hearings, Criminal Defence and Prosecution, Family, Human Rights, Intellectual Property, Shipping and Admiralty.