Legal Aid in Hong Kong

10Dec2019

We are fortunate in Hong Kong to have access to legal advice from solicitors covering a broad range of civil and criminal proceedings under the Legal Aid Schemes. Barristers can also be assigned to your case by the Legal Aid Department, where it is deemed appropriate and necessary. 

Legal aid is available in certain types of cases in the District Court, the High Court (Court of First Instance and Court of Appeal), and the Court of Final Appeal, as well as in committal proceedings in the Magistracy, certain coroner’s inquests, and cases before the Mental Health Review Tribunal.

Civil proceedings

The Ordinary and Supplementary Legal Aid Schemes covers civil cases such as:

  • matrimonial and child protection cases;
  • landlord and tenant disputes;
  • claims in respect of industrial accidents;
  • employees’ compensation claims;
  • immigration matters;
  • breach of contract claims;
  • professional negligence claims;
  • employees’ wages and related employment benefits disputes;
  • Mental Health Review Tribunal cases;
  • coroner’s inquests involving interests of public justice; and
  • specific professional negligence claims.

Criminal proceedings

Legal aid is available in criminal cases tried in the District Court or Court of First Instance and in all criminal appeals. Legal aid is available the Magistrates’ Court only for committal proceedings. If you are charged with an offence heard in the Magistrates’ Court you should directly approach the Duty Lawyer Scheme’s liaison officer at the Magistrates’ Court at which your case is to be heard.

Eligibility

In order to determine your eligibility for legal aid, the Legal Aid Department (LAD) will assess both the merits of your case and your means. You need to demonstrate that you have reasonable grounds for taking or defending the proceedings for which you are applying for legal aid. You also need to satisfy LAD that your financial resources do not exceed the financial eligibility limit.

The Director of Legal Aid has the discretion to waive the means requirements in cases in which it is argued that there is a breach of the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance or an inconsistency with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Tanner De Witt has extensive experience in assisting clients to access legal aid in Hong Kong for a wide range of cases, including those who bring proceedings in a representative capacity (such as for a minor). If you think you may be eligible for Legal Aid and need to institute or defend proceedings in the Hong Kong courts, please contact us for more information, and we can help guide you through the application process. For advice on obtaining legal aid in a specific case, please contact:

Joanne Brown
Partner | E-mail

Philip Swainston
Consultant | Email