Legal Aid department
Legal Aid department annual report 2008
Foreword
Departmental Strategic Plan
Legal Aid Services
Cases of Public Interest or Concern
Improving the Way We Work
Publicity Programmes
Organisation, Administration and Staffing
Appendix
Revenue and Expenditure
Findings of the Survey on Customer Feedback
Legal Aid Department Organisation Chart
Director of Legal Aid and Section Heads
Address and Communication
List of Publications
Foreword

I am pleased to present the 2008 Annual Report, my fifth during my term as Director of the Legal Aid Department (LAD).  2008 has been a busy and challenging year and I would like to highlight some noteworthy events. 

Study by ICAC on the Handling of Wages Claims by the Department

In 2008, the ICAC undertook a review on the manner in which the Department handled wages claims.  The study revealed that LAD staff had followed established procedures in interviewing applicants, conducting means tests and preparing bankruptcy and winding up petitions.  The findings revealed a full scale study was unnecessary.  However, the ICAC made some recommendations aimed at minimising likelihood of malpractices.  These recommendations have been accepted and implemented by the Department. 

I wish to express the Department's appreciation to the ICAC for pointing out areas for improvement in our work processes.

Mediation in Matrimonial Cases

Evaluation and findings of the Department's One-year Pilot Scheme on mediation in legally aided matrimonial cases using data collected up to March 2007 were presented to the Legislative Council Panel on Administration of Justice and Legal Services (AJLS Panel) during the year.  The AJLS Panel supported the Administration's proposal to provide funding to cover mediation in legally aided matrimonial cases and work on the legislative amendment has begun. 

Ongoing Review of the Criminal Legal Aid Fees System

A broad consensus was reached with the two professional bodies on the changes to the fees structure for assessing criminal legal aid fees.  Talks between representatives from the two professional bodies and the Administration that included representatives from this Department continued. 

Mr Benjamin Cheung King-man
Director of Legal Aid

Information Systems Strategy

The implementation of the Legal Aid Electronic Services Portal ("LAESP") at the end of 2008 provided another example of the Department's commitment to making use of information technology to facilitate the delivery of legal aid services.  With the launch of LAESP, any person over the age of 18 can now submit pre-application information online to the Department as a first step towards making an application for legal aid.  It also provides an electronic option for legal practitioners to submit legal aid case reports online. 

An independent auditor was engaged in 2008 to perform an IT security audit.  The audit took into account our assets, identified risk areas, developed security threat response plans and implemented network access controls and intrusion prevention measures.  Our IT Security Policy was revised and updated in response to the security audit and to correlate with changes in the Government's information security requirements. 

Mr Benjamin Cheung King-man
Director of Legal Aid

Looking Ahead

I am sure that the Department will come to face many challenging issues directly or indirectly relating to legal aid services in the years ahead.  Matters that will have an impact include the Civil Justice Reform, mediation in legally aided matrimonial cases and the ongoing review of criminal legal aid fees. 

I have to thank my staff at LAD for their dedication and hard work in serving those in our society that require public funding support in order to exercise their right of access to court.  I would also thank the Chairman and members of the Legal Aid Services Council who have, as always, provided us with guidance and advice in the past year.  It would be specious to talk about quality legal aid services without the continued support of the legal practitioners and their dedication which they gave unremittingly.  I remain appreciative of their continued assistance.

Benjamin Cheung King-man
Director of Legal Aid

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