Subjects referred to the Commission for study are looked at in detail by a sub-committee of experts, usually under the chairmanship of a member of the Commission. In view of the need to be in contact with the community at large, Commission sub-committees often have a substantial proportion of non-lawyer members. Since the Commission was established in 1980, more than 499 individuals have served on one or more of the Commission's sub-committees, all on a voluntary basis. Members of sub-committees are appointed by the Secretary for Justice. Where a sub-committee is appointed, one of the qualified lawyers from the Secretariat services the sub-committee as secretary and researcher.
Alternatively, the Commission may decide to dispense with a sub-committee and to proceed on the basis of research carried out by the Secretariat. The Secretariat, which consists of the Secretary, a Deputy Secretary and several other lawyers, researches topics and prepares background papers and assists in the drafting of sub-committee reports and Commission reports.
A key part of any Commission project is an examination of the relevant law in other jurisdictions. Problems Hong Kong faces may have been faced and overcome elsewhere, and an important aspect of the Commission's work is keeping abreast of developments in, and maintaining links with, other law reform agencies around the common law world.