LEGCO Paper No. CB(2) 1316/95-96
(The minutes have been seen by the Administration)
Ref : CB2/BC/4/95

Minutes of Meeting of the Bills Committee to study
the Buildings (Amendment) (No. 3) Bill 1995

held on Thursday, 18 April 1996 at 8:30 a.m.
in Conference Room B of the Legislative Council Building

Members Present :

    Hon Ronald ARCULLI, OBE, JP (Chairman)
    Hon Edward S T HO, OBE, JP
    Hon Albert CHAN Wai-yip

Members Absent :

    Hon Mrs Selina CHOW, OBE, JP ]away from HK
    Dr Hon Samuel WONG, MBE, FEng, JP ] other commitments
    Hon TSANG Kin-shing ] other commitments

Public Officers Attending :

Director of Buildings
Mr CHENG Wei-dart
Deputy Director of Buildings
Mr Philip LAU
Asst Director of Buildings (Legal & Management) (Ag.)
Mr A N Watson-Brown
Sr Asst Law Draftsman

In Attendance :

The Hong Kong Institute of Architects (HKIA)
Mr Dennis LAU Wing-kwong - also Chairman, Architects Registration Board
Mr LAM Wo-hei

The Hong Kong Institution of Engineers (HKIE)

The Hong Kong Institute of Surveyors (HKIS)

The Real Estate Developers Association of Hong Kong (REDA)
Mr Kent LEE
Mr TONG Chun-wan

The Hong Kong Construction Association (HKCA)
Mr Patrick CHAN

Staff in Attendance :

Mr LEE Yu-sung
Asst Legal Adviser 1
Mrs Sharon TONG
Chief Asst Secy (2) 1
Miss Odelia LEUNG
Sr Asst Secy (2) 1
Mrs Mary TANG
Sr Asst Secy (1) 2

Nomination of Lay Members

The Administration’s paper entitled "Registration Procedures of Different Professions" was tabled at the meeting to the representatives of the professional institutions (Ref: LP No. CB(2) 1054/95-96).


2. Members noted that there were lay members sitting on the Hong Kong Medical Council (HKMC) which dealt with both registration and disciplinary matters. As far as planners, architects, engineers and surveyors were concerned, no lay member was currently on their disciplinary boards. However, the board might, upon request, admit a person to attend the disciplinary hearing.

3. Dr Y L CHOI said that the inclusion of a lay member would enable public views be adequately reflected. As the duties of the building professionals were closely related to the public interests and there would be judgemental factors to be considered in dealing with registration matters, it was therefore considered essential to have a member from the public sitting on the respective Registration Committees. To address members’ concern about the proposed nomination mechanism, the Administration intended to amend the relevant clause (clause 4(4)) to the effect that the BA would consult some public bodies for appointment of a lay member to each Registration Committee, but these bodies would not be specified in the Bill.

4. Mr A N Watson-Brown said that the Administration would develop a panel of persons including lay members for appointment to the respective Registration Committees and the ratio among different disciplines sitting on them would remain unchanged. To allow flexibility, there would not be a fixed term of appointment applying across the board. Depending on individual circumstances, the BA would exercise discretion in deciding on the appropriate term of appointment for individual member.

5. Members considered the proposed arrangement acceptable.

Retention of Names in a Register

6. In response to members’ enquiry raised at the last meeting, ALA1 advised that the existing section 3(6A) provided for the retention period of a name in the register for either one year or three years. The inclusion of names in the respective registers under the respective Registration Ordinances was valid for one year.

Clause 7

New Section 8

7. Mr A N Watson-Brown said that the same principle regarding the appointment of a lay member by the BA to the AP Registration Committee and RSE Registration Committee would apply to the Contractors Registration Committee (CRC) and that subclause (2)(e) would be amended accordingly.

8. On the Chairman’s concern about the relatively few representatives from the contractors sitting on the CRC as compared with the number of APs on AP Registration Committee and of RSEs on RSE Registration Committee, Dr Y L CHOI said that under the current practice, the APs assisted the BA in considering the applications for registration as contractors. The proposed composition of CRC reflected this and geared towards a gradual change from the current system.

New Section 8A

9. On subclause (1)(b), Mr CHENG Wei-dart said that as a start, the Administration intended to maintain sub-registers in the register of specialist contractors for different categories of works, including demolition works, piling works and geotechnical works. More sub-registers would be created for other categories of works as the system developed.

10. Mr CHENG Wei-dart allayed members’ concern and said that the BA could only remove a name from the register under the circumstances specified in subclause (4). Even though a contractor repeatedly bid for tenders without success for a period of time, he would not be considered as ceasing business and be removed from the register.

11. Mr TONG Chun-wan raised whether the contractor’s name would be removed from the register in the event that all the qualified persons working for the contractor resigned.

12. Mr Patrick CHAN was of the view that a distinction should be drawn between a registered contractor as a natural person and as a body corporate. In the latter case, so long as the directors or other officers appointed by the contractor to act for it for the purpose of the BO possessed the requisite skills, the contractor should remain in the register notwithstanding a change in personnel.

13. The Chairman agreed with Mr Patrick CHAN’s view and said that only where the contractor was a proprietor and had ceased business, his name should be removed from the register. In cases of partnership or companies, the change of partners or directors should not affect the status of the registered contractors.

14. Mr CHENG Wei-dart said that the Administration had no objection to change of directors or other officers acting for a body-corporate-contractor provided the replacements fulfilled the criteria for registration and were in the register. Whether the replacements were qualified could be checked against the names in the register maintained by the BA.

New Section 8B

Subclause (2)

15. On the exclusion of the Hong Kong E & M Contractors’ Association Limited as one of the authorities for endorsing applications for registration, Mr CHENG Wei-dart said that the Administration would consider including the Association should it so wish. The Chairman would consult the Association on the matter and revert to the Bills Committee.


16. Mr Robert Kennard said that there might be a conflict of interests should the person who endorsed the application be one of the three persons nominated by the HKCA sitting on the CRC. Mr Patrick CHAN disagreed and said that the endorsement of an application by the HKCA did not mean that its nominees sitting on the CRC would necessarily agree with its views and approve the application. The Chairman shared Mr Patrick CHAN’s view and added that the nominees from the HKCA would not form a majority in the CRC. Mr A N Watson-Brown said that nominees from the respective professional institutions were appointed to the respective Registration Committees on ad persona basis.

Subclause (5)

17. The Chairman was concerned about the lack of time limits within which an application for registration had to be dealt with. In reply, Mr CHENG Wei-dart said that the Administration had considered the merits of imposing a statutory period for processing applications and of incorporating a deeming provision but eventually dropped the idea on the grounds that it was not serving the public interests. Given that the frequency of meetings of the respective Registration Committees was beyond the Administration’s control, the Administration considered it undesirable to put in place a time-table. As such, there were no time limits in processing applications for registration as a AP, RSE or RC.

18. The Chairman considered it fair that applicants should at least be advised of the time frame. At members’ request, the Administration agreed to consider the matter.


Subclause (6)

19. Both members and the professional institutions were concerned about the interpretation of "qualifications, competence and experience" of the applicant under subclause (6). Whilst they considered it agreeable to upgrade the standards of contractors, this objective, however, should be pursued with regard to the practical situations. Should a person be required to attain professional qualifications for registration as a contractor, many existing registered contractors would be rendered ineligible. Mr Kent LEE said that currently quite a number of registered contractors operated family businesses and they normally did not possess any academic qualifications. Mr Patrick CHAN said that whether registered contractors could attain the required qualifications, competence and experience for registration within the period as provided under the transitional provision should be carefully considered. Mr C M WONG stated that the registration requirements for a general building contractor and a specialist contractor should be different and the criteria for the latter category should be more stringent. Mr Edward HO opined that the qualifications required of contractors should correspond to the nature and scale of building works they engaged into. The Chairman was of the view that given the principle of non-retrospectivity of ordinances, the new registration system should not affect the existing registered contractors in honouring any contracts of building works entered into before the coming into operation of the Bill.

20. In response, Mr CHENG Wei-dart said that it was a conscious act on the part of the Administration not to specify the qualifications for registration as a contractor under the new system. The discretion was left entirely to the CRC. At present, there were about 1,000 registered contractors and of which about 500 to 600 were active. The Administration did not expect that the CRC would be too harsh in considering the applications of existing contractors. Notwithstanding, in the Administration’s view, the CRC would be unlikely to recommend an application of a body corporate for registration as a contractor if the body corporate did not employ any technically qualified persons, bearing in mind that the new registration system was intended to raise the standards of contractors.

21. At members’ request, the Administration agreed to consider :


  1. adding new provisions to provide for the recognition of existing experience of contractors in lieu of qualifications for registration purpose;
  2. setting out the criteria for registration as a contractor on the introduction of the new registration system and any further criteria deemed necessary after the system had operated for a certain period of time;
  3. devising different criteria for contractors engaged in building works of different magnitude; and
  4. providing for transitional measures to allow contractors to honour any contracts of building works entered into before the coming into operation of the Bill.

Subclause (7)

22. On members’ question as to whether the BA was empowered to reject the recommendation of the CRC to include a name in the register, Dr Y L CHOI said that the BA would have that veto power although it was not expressly stated. However, the BA could not include a name that was not recommended by the CRC. Mr A N Watson-Brown said that the Administration might reject the CRC’s recommendation if the applicant, though technically competent for being a contractor, was not financially sound for being so. The Administration had no legal objection to expressly stating the veto power of the BA. At members’ request, the Administration would advise the Bills Committee of the grounds on which the BA might reject the CRC’s recommendation.


New Section 8C

Subclause (2)

23. Members expressed concern about the absence of time frame for processing applications for renewal of registration as a contractor under subclause (2). Members were concerned whether a contractor could continue to work as such upon expiry of the registration, pending the BA’s decision on the renewal of registration or pending appeal to the High Court against the BA’s decision under section 9A. Mr CHENG Wei-dart said that the time specified under subclause (2)(c) served as a reference only and no sanction would be applied for failure to adhere to the time-table. The Administration would consider members’ views and advise the Bills Committee.


Subclause (5)

24. The Chairman was of the view that the person removed from the register should be notified of such by a reasonable means, e.g. by sending a notice to the person’s last known address. The Administration agreed to consider.


25. The meeting ended at 10:30 a.m.

LegCo Secretariat
15 May 1996

Last Updated on 23 Apr, 1997