Bringing or Defending a Civil Case
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1. What is the authority and what types of civil cases can be handled by the Labour Tribunal?

The Labour Tribunal offers a quick, informal and inexpensive way of settling monetary disputes between employees and employers. It hears claims arising from the failure of a person to comply with the provisions of the Employment Ordinance (Cap. 57 of the Laws of Hong Kong) or the Apprenticeship Ordinance (Cap. 47). It also deals with cases involving breaches of a term of a contract of employment, whether for performance in Hong Kong or under a contract to which the Contracts for Employment Outside Hong Kong Ordinance (Cap.78) applies, and claims arising from the breach of a term of a contract of apprenticeship.

However, the Labour Tribunal only hears cases where the amount of the claim exceeds $8,000 for at least one of the claimants in a claim, or where the number of claimants in the claim exceeds 10. There is no upper limit on the amount of a claim. (Claims lodged by not more than 10 claimants for a sum of money not exceeding $8,000 per claimant are dealt with by the Minor Employment Claims Adjudication Board which is located at 10/F, Cheung Sha Wan Government Offices, 303 Cheung Sha Wan Road, Kowloon [Tel no.: 2927 8000].)

Parties to the disputes are not allowed to have legal representation in actions heard in the Labour Tribunal. However, they may consult a lawyer before attending the tribunal.

Common items of claim lodged by employees in the Labour Tribunal include:

  • wages due for work done;
  • wages in lieu of notice of termination of a contract of employment owed by an employer who failed to give the required notice;
  • wages deducted contrary to the Employment Ordinance;
  • pay for statutory holidays, annual leave, rest days, sickness allowance, maternity leave, or severance;
  • end of year payment, double pay or annual bonus;
  • commission;
  • long service payment;
  • terminal payments;
  • compensation for unlawful dismissal;
  • unpaid wages of up to 2 months against the principal contractor and superior sub-contractors in the building and construction industry;
  • orders for reinstatement or re-engagement;
  • other benefits conferred by law or employment contract.

Common items of claim lodged by employers include:

  • wages in lieu of notice on resignation or termination of a contract of employment;
  • wages or leave advanced to the employee.

What should I do if I decide to file a claim in the Labour Tribunal?

For details about the document submission, fees and hearing procedures of the Labour Tribunal, please go to another topic – Employment Disputes. You can also contact the Labour Tribunal at 2625 0020 or visit the Judiciary website for more information.

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