Legal update: Specialist Tribunals and Boards in Hong Kong


Many of the administrative and legal decisions that affect closely the lives of residents of Hong Kong and businesses that operate in Hong Kong are not made in the courts but are given in specialist tribunals or other bodies created by statute to deal with regulated professions and occupations.

The range of occupations that are regulated in Hong Kong is growing all the time as social expectation changes and Hong Kong continues to integrate its economy into best international practice. The procedures of these specialist bodies and tribunals are all different and are normally to be found as part of the constitution of that body. All share the need to provide a fair and rational hearing, that is to follow the rules of Natural Justice which is also one of the fundamental expectations of the hearing in the various courts in Hong Kong. However the intricacies of each individual body require careful attention and specialist assistance from solicitors who can appear as advocates and who have the experience and the requirements of that body is often valuable.

Members of Tanner De Witt can advise on, have appeared in and/or have understanding of the following bodies:

  • Administrative Appeals Board (AAB): an independent statutory body that hears and determines appeals against certain decisions of statutory bodies made in respect of an appellant such as appeals against decisions of the Privacy Commissioner matters on security personnel permits and business registration fees.
  • Commercial Crime Bureau (CCB): investigates serious and complex commercial fraud; computer crime; and the counterfeiting or forgery of currency, coinage, credit cards, other commercial instruments and travel and identity documents.
  • Competition Tribunal (CT): hears and decides cases connected with competition law in Hong Kong.
  • Confederation of Insurance Brokers (CIB) Disciplinary Tribunal: an approved body of insurance brokers to implement self-regulation of insurance brokers in Hong Kong.
  • Coroner’s Court: inquires into the causes and circumstances of certain deaths.
  • District Courts: has both criminal and civil jurisdiction and deals with offences transferred to it from the Magistrates’ Court.
  • Family Court: deals with cases relating to divorces and welfare maintenance for children.
  • High Court: made up of the Court of Appeal and the Court of First Instance, it has both appellate and original jurisdiction.
  • Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA): the government authority in Hong Kong responsible for maintaining monetary and banking stability.
  • Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC): takes a three-pronged approach of law enforcement, prevention and community education to fight corruption.
  • Insider Dealing Tribunal (IDT): was replaced by the Market Misconduct Tribunal in 2003 (see below).
  • Juvenile Court: hears charges against children or young persons under the age of 16, except where the charge is one of homicide.
  • Labour Tribunal: offers a quick, informal and inexpensive way of settling monetary disputes between employees and employers.
  • Lands Tribunal: hears and adjudicates cases relating to land law.
  • Liquor Licensing Board (LLB): considers applications for liquor licences and club liquor licences.
  • Magistrates’ Courts: hears a wide range of offences, both summary and indictable.
  • Market Misconduct Tribunal: hears insider dealing, false trading, price rigging, stock market manipulation, disclosure of information about prohibited transactions and disclosure of false or misleading information inducing transactions in securities and futures contracts.
  • Municipal Services Appeal Board: hears and determines any appeal to the Board from the Licensing Appeals Board such as refusal of the issue of a liquor licence, suspension of a restaurant licence, termination of the tenancy of a market stall etc.
  • Obscene Articles Tribunal: hears from such parties as authors, printers, manufacturers, publishers, importers, distributors, copyright owners or any person who commissions the design, production or publication of the articles concerned.
  • Registration of Persons Offices: handles registration of identity cards and other immigration related matters.
  • Securities and Futures Appeal Tribunal (SFAT): acts as a safeguard to ensure that regulatory decisions made by relevant regulatory authorities including the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) and the Hong Kong Monetary Authority are reasonable and fair.
  • Securities and Futures Commission (SFC): an independent statutory body set up in 1989 to regulate Hong Kong’s securities and futures markets.

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