Legislative Council

LC Paper No. LS10/99-00

Paper for the House Committee Meeting
of the Legislative Council
on 15 October 1999

Legal Service Division Report on
District Court (Amendment) Bill 1999

Object of the Bill

To amend the District Court Ordinance (Cap. 336).

LegCo Brief Reference

2. CSO/ADM CR 8/3221/93(99) issued on 29 September 1999 by the Chief Secretary for Administration's Office.

Date of First Reading

3. 13 October 1999.


4. This Bill seeks principally to implement the recommendations of the Report of the Working Party (issued in June 1993) on District Court Ordinance, the District Court Civil Procedure (General) Rules and the District Court Civil Procedure (Forms) Rules chaired by of Mr Justice Kempster ("the Kempster Report"). The financial limits of the jurisdiction of the District Court are however higher than those recommended in the Kempster Report.

5. The major amendments proposed by this Bill are as follows :-

  1. raising the financial limits of the civil jurisdiction of the District Court :-

    Jurisdiction Existing Limits Proposed Limits
    General (clause 20) $120,000 $600,000
    Recovery of land (new section 35)

    Title of land in question(new section 36)(clause 22)
    rateable value of $100,000 rateable value of $240,000
    Equity (new section 37) $120,000 $600,000/$3,000,000 if land is involved

  2. providing for new definitions of "action for personal injuries" and "personal injuries" (clause 3) and setting the financial limit for personal injuries cases at $600,000 (clause 20 - new section 32(2));

  3. defining the role, functions and power of the Registrar of the District Court and adding a provision for the protection of the Registrar (clauses 3, 6, 32, 34 and 39);

  4. stating the power of District Judges to punish persons who are disobedient to the judgement or order of the Court or in breach any undertaking or duty to the Court (clause 23 - new section 48B);

  5. revising upwards the penalties for various offences by officers of the District Court (clause 14, 15 and 16) and the penalties for other offences under the Ordinance (clause 17 and 18) :-

    Clause Section Existing Penalty Proposed Penalty
    14 26 $2,000 at level 6 (i.e. $100,000)
    15 27(i) $2,000 ditto
    16 28 $5,000 at level 5 (i.e. $50,000)
    17 29 (a) summary conviction - a fine of $1,000 and imprisonment for 12 months
    (b) on order of judge - imprisonment for not exceeding 1 month and a fine of $1,000
    (a) summary conviction - a fine at level 5 (i.e. $50,000) and imprisonment for 12 months
    (b) conviction on indictment - imprisonment for 2 years
    18 30 (a) summary conviction - a fine of $1,000 and imprisonment for 12 months
    (b) on order of judge - imprisonment for not exceeding 1 month and a fine of $1,000

  6. stating the jurisdiction and power of the District Court to determine questions between husband and wife as to the title or possession of property under section 6 of Married Persons Status Ordinance (Cap. 182) (clause 22 - new section 38);

  7. providing for the power of transfer of cases commenced in the District Court to the Court of First Instance and vice versa (clause 22 - new sections 42, 43 ,44, 44A and 44B);

  8. providing for the powers of the District Court to order disclosure and production of documents before commencement of proceedings and against persons not a party to the proceedings (clause 23 - new sections 47A, 47B, 47C, 47D and 47E);

  9. making consequential amendments to the Copyright Ordinance (Cap. 528) and the Rules of the High Court (Cap. 4 sub. leg.) (clause 44);

  10. amending the Chinese title of "Registrar" in various ordinances and subsidiary legislation (clauses 45, 46 and Schedules 1 and 2); and

  11. amending the Chinese rendition of the defined term "Court" (clause 47 and Schedule 3).

6. If enacted, the Bill will come into operation on a day to be appointed by the Chief Secretary for Administration by notice in the Gazette.

Public Consultation

7. There has not been any public consultation on the Bill. However, the Hong Kong Bar Association and the Law Society of Hong Kong had been consulted on a similar bill which was introduced to the Legislative Council in 1996 but subsequently lapsed.

Consultation with LegCo Panel

8. The Panel on Administration of Justice and Legal Services was consulted on the increase in financial jurisdiction limits recommended by the Kempster Report in January 1999. At the meeting on 27 May 1999, Members of the Panel were informed of the fact that the Administration was considering further increase of the financial limits of the jurisdiction of the District Court. According to the LegCo Brief, the Panel has urged that the Bill be introduced into LegCo as soon as possible.


9. The Legal Service Division is seeking clarification on certain legal and drafting aspects of the Bill from the Administration. Members may wish to wait for the further report on this Bill before deciding whether a Bills Committee should be formed.

Prepared by

KAU Kin-wah
Assistant Legal Adviser
Legislative Council Secretariat
12 October 1999