B. Legal Aid Schemes for Civil Cases run by the Legal Aid Department

In civil proceedings the Legal Aid Department provides eligible applicants with representation by a solicitor, and where necessary, by a barrister.

Legal Aid is available to any person in Hong Kong, whether the person is a Hong Kong resident or non-resident. Legal Aid will normally be granted if the applicant is able to satisfy the financial means test and the case merits test.

There are two Legal Aid Schemes for civil cases: the Ordinary Legal Aid Scheme and the Supplementary Legal Aid Scheme.

The Ordinary Legal Aid Scheme is for people with financial resources not exceeding $290,380. The Ordinary Scheme covers most types of civil proceedings in the District Court, the Court of First Instance, & the Court of Appeal of the High Court, the Court of Final Appeal, the Lands Tribunal for Part II tenancy matters, certain coroners inquests, as well as application to the Mental Health Review Tribunal. The Ordinary Scheme does not however cover (1) defamation claims (2) claims in Small Claims Tribunal and Labour Tribunal (3) disputes between shareholders or business partners, (4) claims for the recovery of a loan made in the ordinary course of the applicant's business, (5) proceedings where the only question is about when and how an applicant should repay certain debt or costs, (6) money claims in derivatives of securities, currency futures or other futures contracts, (7) relator actions and (8) election petitions (unless a human right issue is involved).

The Supplementary Legal Aid Scheme is for "sandwich class" with financial resources ranging from $290,380 to $1,451,900. However, the Supplementary Scheme only cover (1) cases involving personal injury or death, (2) medical, dental or legal professional negligence, where the claim for damages is likely to exceed $60,000; and (3) claims under the Employees' Compensation Ordinance.

  1. What is the financial means test?
  2. What is the case merits test?
  3. Do I need to pay anything for Legal Aid service?
  4. Do I need to pay my opponent's legal costs if I lose in the proceedings?
  5. Can I choose a lawyer I trust to represent me under Legal Aid?
  6. What should I do if I want to obtain Legal Aid?
  7. What consequences will I face if I provide false information to the Legal Aid Department?
  8. Do I need to file my Defence in the proceedings while waiting for the outcome of my Legal Aid application?
  9. What can I do if my application for Legal Aid is rejected?

For more details about the Legal Aid Scheme for civil cases, please visit the Legal Aid Department's webpage or telephone 2537 7677 (24-hour interactive voice processing system) or 2537 7661 (Headquarters).

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