Organisation, Administration and
The Department has three Divisions, namely the Application and
Processing Division, the Litigation Division and the Policy and
Administration Division, each headed by a Deputy Director as shown in
the organisation chart in Appendix 3.
At the end of 2010, the Department had 515 staff comprising 73
professional officers, 155 law clerks and 287 supporting staff.
The Department continues to conduct regular reviews to ensure that the
Department's resources are deployed to priority service areas to
optimise operational efficiency and effectiveness.
Work of the Three Divisions
The work and achievements of the Application and Processing Division
and the Litigation Division are set out in Chapter 2. The Policy
and Administration Division provides support to the entire operation of
the Department. Its work and achievements during the year are
Training and Development
The Department places great importance on training and
development. They are instrumental in enhancing staff performance
that leads to the provision of quality services to the public.
The Training Unit formulates and reviews the Department's training
policies and plans. The Unit is headed by a Senior Training
Officer who plans, organises, implements and monitors various types of
training programmes to meet the operational and development needs of
In 2010, a number of general and professional training courses were
arranged for staff at all levels. Some of the major training
initiatives are described below:
Job-Related Professional Training
34 Legal Aid Counsel Grade officers attended law seminars and
conference organised by external training bodies on topics ranging from
Civil Justice Reform, Personal Injury Litigation, Convention Against
Torture Claims and Refugee Law, etc. to keep abreast of development in
the areas of law relevant to their work. With the extended coverage of
mediation by legal aid and the increasing use of mediation in civil
proceedings, the Department was honoured that 2 High Court judges
gave a briefing to the professional officers on mediation. To enable
staff to have more than a cursory knowledge on what mediation is about
and how it works in practice, the Department organised a seminar and
role play session conducted by an accredited mediator. In-house
briefings were also held for law clerks and support staff to build up
their working knowledge on mediation. In-house talks on the role/responsibilities of
professional officers and Law
Clerk Grade staff in the Civil Litigation Section (2) and Crime
Section were also organised. In addition, in-house job related
talks on Assessment of Assigned Solicitors' Bills, Employees'
Compensation Claims, Legal Aid Ordinance, Race Discrimination Ordinance
etc were arranged for staff. In all, 213 Counsel Grade and Law
Clerk Grade officers attended these talks.
Alice Chung Yee-ling
Acting Deputy Director of Legal Aid
(Policy and Administration)
Training on General Subjects
A wide range of internal and external courses on general subjects such
as management, customer service, communication, language, national
studies, Basic Law and information technology were made available to
staff to meet the developmental needs of individual officers.
Assistant Principal Legal Aid
Counsel (Crime), Ms. YW Mo (fifth from
left), and Senior Legal Aid Counsel (Civil Litigation), Ms. Juliana MK
Chan (fourth from left) spoke to 18 Mainland officials under Training
Scheme in Common Law 2009/2010 on 8 June 2010. The picture shows
participants under the training scheme taking a group picture with the
speakers after the session.
Some major programmes included executive development programmes for
directorate officers and a leadership workshop conducted by Civil Service
Training and Development Institute for
Senior Law Clerks I & II. In-house Putonghua courses were also
organised for directorate officers, professional officers and Law Clerk Grade staff.
Promoting a Culture of Learning
The Department is committed to cultivating a continuous learning and
self-development culture amongst staff. The Learning Resource
Centre, which was set up in 2005, provides learning resources on a
variety of subjects covering management, communication, language,
national studies, public administration, science and personal
development. Over 258 items including books, self-learning
packages, videos and compact discs were available for loan by
The Department also advocates E-learning to facilitate
self-development. Staff can access the Department's intranet to
find useful learning resources and work-related guidelines.
Lecture notes and materials on in-house job-related talks were uploaded
to the Department Portal for access by staff.
Besides the Departmental Portal, staff can also access the government's
Cyber Learning Centre (CLC). It enables them to receive tuition
anytime, anywhere and at their own pace.
Information Systems Strategy
The Department launched its Information Systems Strategy Programme in
2001-2002 and throughout the years has been updating its IT
infrastructure and office automation facilities to facilitate delivery
of legal aid services to the public by staff of the Department.
The Case Management and Case Accounting System which supports over 500
staff users in handling day-to-day legal aid business processes such as
processing applications and handling legal aid payments was further
enhanced in 2010 to meet the needs brought about by the latest changes
in business workflow and procedures. Payment by Phone Service
(PPS) was introduced to the system in June 2010 for payment of
contributions and judgment debts by instalments. The System was also
enhanced to capture information and statistics relating to the
engagement of mediators in aided civil proceedings
The Legal Aid Electronic Services Portal (LAESP) which was launched in
2008 provides an online gateway through which members of the public and
panel lawyers can gain access to information and transact certain legal
aid business with the Department online to facilitate communications.
Members of the public can access the LAESP to download and submit legal
aid pre-application information forms to the Department as a first step
towards making an application for legal aid. The means test
calculator gives members of the public an idea of their eligibility for
legal aid on means had 2 754 hits in 2010. In addition, panel
lawyers could, through LAESP, download and submit Legal Aid Panel (LAP)
electronic forms and electronic case management reports.
Ms Juliana Chan Oi-yung
Assistant Principal Legal Aid Counsel
(Legal and Management Support)
Staff Relations and Communication
The Department maintains effective communication with staff through
regular meetings with various staff representative bodies such as the
Departmental Consultative Committees (DCC), the Law Clerks Association
and the Legal Aid Counsel Association. As a result of discussion
in DCC, improvements have been made in areas such as training on
answering hotline enquiries and management of first aid boxes.
The Director of Legal Aid visited each section regularly throughout the
year with a view to exchanging ideas with staff of all levels including
professionals and received their views on work arrangements and
procedures for further improvement. Divisions/Sections continued to
implement their respective internal communication strategies in
consultation with staff. Informal meetings were also held between
the Deputy Director of Legal Aid (Policy and Administration) and
general grades staff to canvas their views on work and to explore areas
for improvement. The Department continued to publish staff newsletter
three times a year in order to keep staff abreast of development in the
Department and to promote their sense of belonging.
The Department values the general well-being of its staff. The
objective of the Staff Club, which was formed in 1988, is to promote
staff welfare by organising a wide range of activities to bring about
opportunities where staff can meet and interact whilst engaging in
relaxing and enriching activities.
To provide staff with opportunities to maintain their physical fitness,
classes in Qigong, Tai-Chi and Yoga were arranged, together with an
excursion to the Ma Shi Chau Geo Trail located in Tai Po. Various
classes on interests such as knitting, baking and Chinese calligraphy
were also organised.
Staff welfare and recreational activities including the Annual Dinner
and mini bazaars to celebrate festivals like Chinese New Year and
Mid-Autumn Festival were held.
During the year, the Volunteer Service Group (VSG), formed in 2002 to
encourage staff participation in volunteer services helped with fund
raising activities such as Rice Selling Campaign organised by Oxfam
Hong Kong and MSF Day Fund Raising Campaign organised by Medecins Sans
In addition, the Department also teamed up with the Association of the
Rights of Industrial Accident Victims and participated in the
"Caring Cooking Competition" which was a fund raising event organized
by the Law Society of Hong Kong. Our representatives won the Best Team
Image Award and the Best First Dish Award and raised over $10,000 for
the benefit of the Association.
The "Caring Cooking Competition", a
charity event organized by The Law
Society of Hong Kong, was successfully held on 6 November 2010 at the
Chinese Cuisine Training Institute. Deputy Director of Legal Aid
(Litigation), Ms. Jennie Hui (second from left) and the ardent team won
the Best Team Image Award and Best First Dish Award and helped raise
fund for the Association of the Rights of Industrial Accident Victims.
Staff Motivation Activities
Prizes were given to members of staff who participated in the "Game
Corner" and "Staff Corner" of the Staff Newsletter in recognition of
their involvement and enthusiasm. To develop a caring culture in
the Department, a prize was presented to the donor who made the largest
donation in support of the "Community Chest Dress Special Day 2010"
Legal Aid Department was awarded
the Top Fund Raiser Award and the
Highest Per Capita Contribution Award in the Civil Service category of
the Community Chest's Dress Special Day 2009. Ag. Deputy Director of
Legal Aid / Administration, Ms. Alice Chung (middle) and Assistant
Principal Legal Aid Counsel / Legal and Management Support, Ms. Doris
Lui (left) received one of the trophies on 9 March 2010.
The Department is committed to ensuring its operations and activities
are conducted in an environmentally responsible manner. The Department
supports efforts to minimise waste, conserve energy, promote "reuse"
and "recycle" of resources and to enhance staff awareness and
participation in protecting the environment.
The Department undertakes regular reviews to ensure that the use of its
resources is in an efficient and green manner. Details of the
Department's environmental initiatives in 2010 can be found in the
Department's Environmental Report at the Department's website
Apart from the regular reviews undertaken by the Environmental
Officers, the Department encouraged staff to re-use paper and transmit
documents by emails whenever possible. Colleagues were assigned
to turn off lights during lunch hours and after work to save
energy. The Department continued to keep a close watch on the
consumption of paper and number of photocopies. Apart from producing
the Department's Annual Report in electronic format instead of hard
copy, the Department also provided in-house training materials to staff
in soft copies and uploaded the materials to Department's intranet for
staff ease of reference. Paperless meetings were conducted to reduce the
printing of agenda, minutes of meeting and reference materials. With
the introduction of Payment by Phone Service for payment of
contributions and judgment sums, papers were saved as the issue and
mailing of receipts were no longer necessary. With the assistance
of the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department, indoor air
quality tests were conducted and all offices attained the "Good Class"
standard. The Department also supported the WWF's Earth Hour on
28 March and Friends of Earth's "One-hour-long Lights Out on the Summer
Solstice" on 21 June.
To enhance security, cameras for closed-circuit television were
installed at the lift lobby of the Department's Headquarters offices at
24/F - 27/F, Queensway Government Offices.
Public Access Defibrillator Programme
The Department became a participating department in the Public Access
Defibrillators Programme launched by Fire Services Department
(FSD). Upon joining the programme, the Department installed
Automated External Defibrillators (AED) in the Department's
Headquarters, Kowloon Branch Office and Hong Kong Sub-office. A total
of 18 staff of law clerk grade and general grade attended a 1-day
training course provided by FSD on how to operate the AED and apply
cardiopulmonary resuscitation to cardiac arrest patients.
Wider Use of Chinese
The glossary of Chinese terms commonly used by staff for their
day-to-day work was updated by the Translation Office during the year.
The updated glossary was placed on the Departmental intranet to
facilitate ease of access by staff preparing Chinese documents.
Apart from updating the glossary, the Translation Office continued to
provide telephone enquiry service to staff who needed assistance when
drafting Chinese documents.
The Translation Office continued to promote the use of Chinese through
the Language Platform by posting articles regularly on the intranet on
matters of interest relating to Chinese culture and giving useful tips
that helped staff to improve their Chinese writing skills.
The Internal Audit Section (IAS) is an independent team established to
assist management to ensure that adequate control procedures and
systems are in place to safeguard the Department's assets. It
also carries out reviews of the various activities of the Department in
order to ensure an economical, efficient and effective use of the
Department's financial, human and other resources. During the
year, the IAS reviewed the implementation of the Office of the
Ombudsman's recommendations on monitoring of assigned-out cases, the
relevant procurement procedures and regulations in order to identify
areas for improvement, the assignment out system of the Crime Section
and cases with outstanding Party & Party costs to be recovered
since 1 April 2006. The IAS also carried out an audit on the
Integrated Registration Information System provided by the Land
Registry for conducting land searches in legal aid cases, the accuracy
of computer data input by staff and periodical checks on compiling
means investigation reports, petty cash and imprest etc.
Support Service to the Legal Aid Services Council
Legal Aid Services Council (LASC) is a statutory body set up under the
Legal Aid Services Council Ordinance, Cap. 489 to oversee the provision
of legal aid services. The LASC is responsible for advising
the Chief Executive on matters of policy relating to legal aid.
The LASC is chaired by a non-official who is not a barrister or
solicitor and there is a total of 10 members comprising the Director of
Legal Aid, legal representatives of the two legal professional bodies
and lay members chosen from other fields. Representatives of the
Department attend meetings of the Council and its Interest Groups and
participate in its activities in promoting public awareness and
understanding of the role of the Council and its relationship with the
In the year, the Department provided the Council with regular progress
reports and information papers on different aspects of legal aid
services, such as legal aid assistance to employees for wages claims
and assignment of solicitors, counsel and senior counsel in legal aid
The Ombudsman's Award 2010
Ms Winnie Lau, Deputy Departmental Secretary,
Ms Lau joined the Department in May 2005 as Deputy Departmental
Secretary. As part of her duties, she took on the role of Departmental
Complaints Officer and was made responsible for developing the
complaint handling mechanism of the Department. When receiving
complaints and representations, Ms Lau was very tactful and patient.
With her excellent interpersonal skills and work knowledge, she was
able to deal with the complainants competently. In recognition
and appreciation of her customer service skills, Ms Lau was awarded The
Ombudsman's Award 2010. Ms Lau has the following to say about the
award: "As a civil servant, I am committed to perform my duties to the
best of my ability. I am devoted to serve my clients wholeheartedly and
with empathy. I would listen to their needs and strive to provide
quality service to them. When it was not feasible to satisfy their
demands, I would patiently explain to them the reasons for not being
able to do so".
Secretary For Civil Services' Award
Ms Fanny Mok, Senior Law Clerk I,
Application and Processing Division
Ms Fanny Mok, a recipient of the Secretary for Civil Services' Award
Scheme in 2010, joined the Department as a law clerk in January 1988
and was promoted to her present post as Senior Law Clerk I in March
Ms Mok is a very responsible and dedicated officer. She is known for
her thoughtfulness and pursuit of excellence in everything that she
does. As Senior Law Clerk I of the Application & Processing
Division, Ms Mok firmly believes that a well designed computer system
is essential and conducive to the effective and efficient discharge of
the work in the Application & Processing Division. As such, she has
taken a proactive role in ensuring that the capabilities of the
Department's Case Management and Case Accounting Computer System were
fully utilized and enhancements to the system carried out promptly to
meet the changing need of the Department and to fulfill its aim of
providing quality legal aid services to the public.