又中又英——mea culpa

  Last week, I heard two interesting expressions seldom used in Hong Kong. The first was “mea culpa” which I heard while watching a movie on Netflix. The other was “cab-rank rule”, which Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah used. The expression “mea culpa” is more common than “cab-rank rule”, which is mostly used by the legal profession. The expression “mea culpa” is a Latin phrase that means “through my own fault”. People nowadays mostly use it as an English noun to admit guilt or fault. For example, if a newspaper article turns out to be incorrect, the newspaper can issue a mea culpa to admit it was wrong.

  Last week, a senior official at the Centre for Health Protection, Raymond Ho Lei-ming, used racist reasons to explain why so many South Asians in the over-crowded Jordan area became infected with the coronavirus. He has not yet issued a mea culpa. Cheng Yeuk-wah used the expression “cab-rank rule” after David Perry, a reputable British barrister, changed his mind about coming to Hong Kong to be the government prosecutor for a controversial court case. Perry had agreed to be the prosecutor against nine well-known democracy activists for allegedly taking part in an unauthorized protest. But British politicians, including Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, heavily criticized him for helping the Hong Kong government jail those fighting for democracy.

  Cheng Yeuk-wah criticized British politicians for pressuring Perry not to take the case. She said under the British and Hong Kong legal systems barristers must follow the cab-rank rule. This rule means the first barrister who is asked to take up a case must do so regardless of the nature of the case or the people involved. The expression comes from London taxi stands where it is the rule for the first taxi in line to take a passenger regardless of who the passenger is or where the passenger wants to go. Taxis are also called cabs. But politicians who pressured Perry not to take the case argued the cab-rank rule doesn’t apply to overseas court cases.

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  上星期,我聽到兩個有趣的習語,是香港較少用到的。第一個是“mea culpa”,是我在Netflix觀賞一齣電影時聽到的;另一個是“cab-rank rule”,是律政司司長鄭若驊所說的。習語“mea culpa”比“cab-rank rule”常用,後者多在法律專業領域中使用。習語“mea culpa”是個拉丁詞𢑥,意思是「由於我的過錯」。今時今日,人們通常把它看作一個英文名詞,用以承認罪過或過失。譬如,若報章有一篇報道刊出後被發現有失實之處,該報章便會刊登一個道歉聲明(mea culpa),去承認文章出了錯。

  上星期,衞生防護中心一名高級官員何理明,用了一些帶種族主義的原因,去解釋為何極度擠逼的佐敦區會有那麼多南亞裔人士感染新冠肺炎。他仍未為此正式致歉(mea culpa)。而鄭若驊則是在英國御用大律師大衛‧佩里改變主意,不再來港為一宗具爭議的案件擔任主控官後,用到了“cab-rank rule”這個習語。佩里本來答允,在九位知名民運人士涉嫌參與未經批准集結的案件中擔任主控官,但英國的政客,包括外相藍韜文都強烈批評他協助香港政府囚禁那些爭取民主的人士。

  鄭若驊批評英國政客在向佩里施壓,迫使他不能接這宗案件。她說,在英國及香港的司法制度下,律師必須遵守 the cab-rank rule。這個「的士站原則」,是指第一位接到案件的執業大律師,不論案件的性質或當中所牽涉的人物,亦不得拒聘。這個習語源自倫敦的士站有個規定,排在的士站首位之的士不得拒載,不論那位乘客是誰或對方想去哪裏。的士也叫做 cabs。然而,那些向佩里施壓不得接這案件的政客反駁說,這個不可拒聘原則(cab-rank rule)並不適用於海外法庭的案件。中譯:七刻

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Michael Chugani 褚簡寧


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