-- Please select --
I. What is a civil case?
II. Matters to be considered before starting a civil action
Can I settle the dispute without going to court?
Do I have sufficient legal basis to start a civil action? Will it be possible for my opponent to sue me back in respect of the same case?
How and where can I get legal advice or representation (including free or subsidised legal assistance)?
Can I obtain what I want if I win the case?
Can I afford the expenses?
Can I afford the time?
Is there any deadline for starting a civil action?
What risks will I face if I start a civil action? Am I prepared to bear these risks?
III. How to start a civil action
What is the authority and what types of civil cases can be handled by the Labour Tribunal?
What is the authority and what types of civil cases can be handled by the Small Claims Tribunal?
What is the authority and what types of civil cases can be handled by the District Court?
What is the authority and what types of civil cases can be handled by the Court of First Instance of the High Court?
Will I need a lawyer to handle my case?
What happens if a mentally incapacitated person or an infant/minor wants to start a legal action?
How can I start a civil action against another party in the District Court or the High Court?
If I want to start a civil action against somebody through the District Court or the High Court, should I commence the action by filing a writ of summons or by filing an originating summons?
How do I start a civil action by issuing a writ of summons?
How do I start a civil action by issuing an originating summons?
IV. How to defend myself against a civil action
How do I (as the defendant) calculate the period of 14 days allowed for filing the acknowledgment of service form?
Should I defend a claim that is started against me?
What should I do if I decide NOT to defend the case?
What should I do if I decide to defend the case?
What happens if the defendant does not file an acknowledgment of service form or a defence?
What happens if the defendant files a defence (and counterclaim)?
If the defendant considers that he does in fact owe the plaintiff some money, what action can be taken by the defendant?
V. Preparing a case for a court trial
What is a discovery (disclosure) of documents?
What is an exchange of witness statements?
What should be noted about expert witnesses? Should I call them to give evidence for my case?
What is a summons for directions (to be made before the commencement of a trial)?
What are the other general matters that I should pay attention to concerning the conduct of civil actions in court?
VI. What kinds of applications may be made to court before the commencement of a trial?
How are interlocutory applications made?
How to prepare an affidavit or affirmation?
How is the hearing of an interlocutory application conducted?
Can the plaintiff or the defendant appeal against an order made on an interlocutory application?
If the defendant filed a defence, but it does not contain any reasonable points, can the plaintiff apply for a "fast judgment" without going through a trial?
The trial has not yet commenced but the defendant's wrongdoing has already caused some damage to the plaintiff. What can the plaintiff do to stop the defendant's wrongdoing in the meantime?
What can the plaintiff do if the defendant is likely to dispose of his assets improperly before the case proceeds to trial?
What can the plaintiff do if he wants to enter the defendant's premises to search for and seize certain documents or property before the case proceeds to trial?
What can the plaintiff do to reduce financial hardship during the period from the commencement of legal action up to the date of trial? Is it possible for the plaintiff to obtain some compensation from the defendant before the conclusion of the case?
If the defendant wins the case, part of his legal costs may be recovered from the plaintiff. What can the defendant do if he is worried that, in the event of defeating the plaintiff's claim, the plaintiff would be unable to meet any order for legal costs made at the trial?
Can I settle my dispute out of court even if legal action has already commenced?
What should parties to a civil case know about “sanctioned offers” and “sanctioned payments” ?
Consequence of acceptance of “sanctioned offer” and “sanctioned payment”
Consequence of non-acceptance of “sanctioned offer” and “sanctioned payment”
VII. How do I fix a trial date and what may happen at a trial?
How can the parties prepare the bundle of documents before going to the trial (copies of the documents that will be placed before the judge and the relevant parties at the trial)?
If I am a party to the case and have called witnesses to give evidence for me, should I meet with my witnesses before attending the trial?
What may happen during a civil trial? What is the usual procedure that the plaintiff and the defendant need to follow at the trial?
VIII. What can I do if I lose the case (how to appeal)?
Does the Court of First Instance of the High Court (not the Court of Appeal) also have the authority to hear appeal cases?
What types of civil matters can be heard by the Court of Final Appeal?
IX. Can I recover all my legal costs if the court orders the other party to pay my legal costs?
What is taxation of legal costs?
Further to question 1, if I have appointed a lawyer to handle my lawsuit, can I apply for taxation if I am not satisfied with my own lawyer's bill?
X. How to enforce a court judgment after winning the case
How can I know if the judgment debtor has the financial resources to satisfy the court judgment and to pay the debt?
How can I prevent the judgment debtor from leaving Hong Kong as a way to escape liability for paying the judgment debt?
How can the Bailiff's Office assist me to recover my debt/compensation/premises from the judgment debtor/defendant?
If I (as a judgment creditor) realise that someone owes money to the judgment debtor, can I get my money directly from that third party?
If the judgment debtor does not have any cash but owns a property/flat, can I (as the judgment creditor) take legal action against the debtor's flat?
As a judgment creditor, can I enforce the judgment if the judgment debtor has lodged an application for permission to appeal?
If I am the judgment debtor and will launch an appeal to the Court of Appeal, what steps have to be taken if I want to have a stay of execution (suspend the execution) of the judgment or order against me?
XI. Judicial Review
What are the other important matters that I should know about judicial review?
2. Should I defend a claim that is started against me?
On the acknowledgment of service form, you need to state whether you wish to defend the action brought against you by the plaintiff or not. Therefore, upon receipt of a writ of summons, you should first consider whether you should defend the claim.
Apart from considering whether you have a legal basis to defend the claim brought against you, you should also consider the matters set out in the section
"Matters to be considered before starting a civil action". In particular, you should be aware that if you defend the case and end up losing the case, you will normally be ordered to pay costs (this generally means legal costs) to the plaintiff. You are not exempt from this even if you are a litigant in person (defending yourself without appointing a lawyer). The costs are the expenses that the winning party has to spend on the preparation and hearing of the matter. These include the expenses for the lawyers representing the winning party (if any). The amount of the costs can be substantial, depending on the complexity of the case, the preparation work required and the length of the hearing.
You are recommended to obtain legal advice before deciding whether or not you should defend a claim brought against you.