2. Which court in Hong Kong hears defamation cases? Are the verdicts of such cases made by the court judge or the jury?

The plaintiff can start legal action in either the District court (without a jury) or in the Court of First Instance of the High Court (with or without a jury). Note: The District Court only has the jurisdiction/authority to award compensation of up to HK$1 million.

In the High Court, it is not compulsory to have a jury to hear a defamation case. According to section 33A of the High Court Ordinance (Cap. 4 of the Laws of Hong Kong), either the plaintiff or the defendant in a defamation case can apply to have a jury trial if they so desire. However, the Court may refuse to grant the request for a jury trial if it is of the opinion that the trial requires any prolonged examination of documents or accounts or any scientific or local investigation which cannot conveniently be made with a jury.

If the case is tried in the High Court with a jury, the jury will decide whether or not the defendant is guilty of defamation.

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