LC Paper No. CB(2)102/99-00(01)
Panel on Administration of Justice and Legal Services
List of issues to be considered
- Study on an independent legal aid authority
At the meeting on 15 September 1998, the Legal Aid Services Council briefed the Panel on its recommendations on the consultancy study. At the meeting on 13 October 1999, members expressed deep concern about the Administration's decision against the setting up of an independent legal aid authority. Members agreed to discuss this issue at an early opportunity.
- Committee on Bilingual Legal System
The item was proposed by the Chairman at the meeting on 17 November 1998. Members may wish to discuss the subject at a future meeting.
- "Leapfrog" appeals to the Court of Final Appeal
This item was discussed at the meeting on 15 June 1999. Members have agreed that the subject should be further discussed in a few months' time after the Administration has completed its review and submitted recommendations to the Panel.
- Rule of law and related matters
At the meeting on 15 June 1999, some members expressed concern about the implications of the Government's decision to seek an interpretation of certain provisions in the Basic Law from the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress. The Administration has been requested to account to the Panel actions it has undertaken to ensure that the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region abides by the law and is implementing laws already in force in accordance with Article 64 of the Basic Law. The subject was scheduled for discussion at the meeting on 20 July 1999 which was subsequently cancelled. The Administration's paper has been circulated to members vide LC Paper No. CB(2)2565/98-99(02).
- Common law offence of conspiracy to defraud
The matter of whether or not the common law offence of conspiracy to defraud should be abolished has been discussed by the Bills Committee on Theft (Amendment) Bill 1998. Contrary to the recommendation of the Law Reform Commission, the Administration maintains the view that there is a need to retain the offence in Hong Kong. It informs the Bills Committee that the English Law Commission has been reviewing all offences involving dishonesty and has deferred making a final recommendation on the offence of conspiracy to defraud until that review has been completed. As the fraud legislation in Hong Kong is virtually identical to the corresponding legislation in UK, the Bills Committee feels that it would be sensible for Hong Kong to preserve the common law offence until the Administration has had a chance to examine the conclusion of the review in UK. The Bills Committee has requested the Administration to report the final recommendations of the English Law Commission to the Panel in due course.
- Definition of "deception" in section 17 of the Theft Ordinance (Cap. 210)
A separate issue which arises from the deliberations of the Bills Committee on Theft (Amendment) Bill 1998 is whether the reference to "opinions" in the definition of "deception" under section 17 of the Theft Ordinance is necessary. The Bills Committee suggests that the matter be followed up by the Panel.
- Issuing of executive orders by the Chief Executive under Article 48(4) of the Basic Law
This issue was raised at a meeting of the Bills Committee on Adaptation of Laws Bill 1998. At the Panel meeting on 15 December 1998, the Chairman suggested and members agreed that the subject matter should be discussed at a future meeting.
- Criminal prosecution on grounds of public interest
At the meeting on 25 February 1999, Ms Emily LAU suggested that the issue of criminal prosecution instituted for reason of public interest should be pursued by the Panel. Members agreed that the subject should be discussed at a future meeting.
- Information technology programme of the Judiciary
At the meeting on 23 March 1999, Mr Albert HO referred to the progress of computerization of court support services under the Judiciary Information Systems Strategy and commented that the electronic legal reference system of the Judiciary did not seem to have any interface with the legal professional bodies. In a paper prepared by the Administration which has been circulated to members on 27 September 1999 vide LC Paper No. CB(2)2891/98-99(01), the Administration has advised that the Judiciary would explore the viability of interfacing its Legal Reference System with the legal professional bodies.
- Legal representation in Labour Tribunal
At the House Committee meeting held on 23 April 1999 when Members discussed the Labour Tribunal (Amendment) Bill 1999, a Member suggested that the matter of whether the presiding officer of the Labour Tribunal should be given discretion to allow legal representation for both sides in complex cases should be considered. Members agreed that the issue should be examined by the Panel.
- Legal Aid (Amendment) Bill 1999
A private Member's Bill, to be sponsored by Hon CHAN Kwok-keung, proposes to amend the Legal Aid Ordinance to the effect that where the Labour Tribunal has entered a judgement in favour of an employee or group of employees being the claimant against the employer, and the latter subsequently default payment, the claimant will be entitled to legal aid to pursue the case in a higher court, with the means test for eligibility for legal aid being waived. Members may wish to decide the appropriate timing for the Member-in-charge of the Bill to brief the Panel.
- Legal aid for illegal immigrants with right of abode claims
At the meeting on 7 October 1999, the Chairman referred to a recent case in which two illegal immigrants from the Mainland were removed, when the Legal Aid Department had requested the Immigration Department to defer repatriation pending consideration of issuance of legal aid certificate. The Chairman questioned whether the case departed from existing policy and practice on removal of legal aid applicants. Members agreed to consider whether the above subject should be discussed at a future meeting, in the light of the discussions of the Panel on Home Affairs at its meeting held on 12 October 1999. (The relevant papers were issued to members vide LC Paper No. CB(2)100/99-00(02)-(03) dated 15 October 1999.)
Legislative Council Secretariat