Two British (non-permanent) judges at Hong Kong’s Court of Final Appeal have resigned. Many think this will damage the reputation of the court. Others believe that the two judges should have done so earlier, and that their British colleagues should follow suit. (“Hong Kong’s Reputation as a Financial Centre Hit as UK Judges Quit Top Court,” Financial Times, April 3, 2022.)

Friedrich Hayek had something relevant to say about that sort of circumstance in his Law, Legislation, and Liberty (Edited by Jeremy Shearmur, University of Chicago Press, 2022):

But although the judge is not committed to upholding a particular status quo, he is committed to upholding the principles on which the existing order is based. His task is indeed one which has meaning only within a spontaneous and abstract order of actions such as the market produces. He must thus be conservative in the sense only that he cannot serve any order that is determined not by rules of individual conduct but by the particular ends of authority. A judge cannot be concerned with the needs of particular persons or groups, or with ‘reasons of state’ or ‘the will of government’, or with any particular purposes which an order of actions may be expected to serve. Within any organization in which the individual actions must be judged by their serviceability to the particular ends at which it aims, there is no room for the judge. In an order like that of socialism in which whatever rules may govern individual actions are not independent of particular results, such rules will not be ‘justiciable’ because they will require a balancing of the particular interests affected in the light of their importance. Socialism is indeed largely a revolt against the impartial justice which considers only the conformity of individual actions to end-independent rules and which is not concerned with the effects of their application in particular instances. Thus a socialist judge would really be a contradiction in terms; for his persuasion must prevent him from applying only those general principles which underlie a spontaneous order of actions, and lead him to take into account considerations which have nothing to do with the justice of individual conduct.

In my review of the book, I commented:

I would add that this crucial point would also apply to a fascist judge, and Hayek would certainly agree.

A person close to the Chinese Leviathan suggested that the resignation of British judges, mainly concerned with commercial law, was “a chance for Hong Kong to develop a judicial system with national security as a priority.” Q.E.D.