Legal Aid Department Legal Aid Department Annual Report 2011
 


 

Chapter 1

Departmental Strategic Plan

The Department's strategic plan sets out our objectives and describes how the objectives can be achieved. The strategic plan provides a rational basis upon which priorities are determined and is regularly updated to ensure that resources are well targeted and used effectively having regard to the changing needs of society.

The Department's strategic plan can also be viewed at the Department's website.

(Rear row from left)
Ms Sherman Cheung Suk-ying, Mrs Christina Hadiwibawa Cheung Ying-man, Ms Doris Lui Wai-lan, Ms Tse Sze-fong, Miss Linda Ng Wing-ping, Ms Juliana Chan Miu-kuen, Ms Mo Yuk-wah, Miss Ada Wong Yiu-ming

(Front row from left)
Mr Allan Chan Wing-cho, Mr Thomas Edward Kwong, Mrs Annie Williams Ka-ding, Mr William Chan Heung-ping, Ms Alice Chung Yee-ling, Mr Chris Chong Yan-tung, Ms Juliana Chan Oi-yung

Implementation of the Strategic Plan in 2011

Processing of Legal Aid Applications and Monitoring of Assigned Out cases

The five-yearly review of the criteria for assessing financial eligibility for legal aid applicants was completed in 2011. The Legislative Council Panel on Administration of Justice and Legal Services (AJLS Panel) endorsed the recommendations resulting from the review including substantially raising the financial eligibility limits for both the Ordinary Legal Aid Scheme (OLAS) and Supplementary Legal Aid Scheme (SLAS). Other improvement measures included the provision, for the first time, of a capital disregard for an amount equalling the financial eligibility limit for OLAS for elderly applicants aged 60 or above as well as adopting the median household expenditure as the basis for working out the amount of statutory allowances when calculating the disposable income of an applicant. The amendments came into effect in May 2011.

Information System

The computer operating system and database software for Case Management & Case Accounting System that supported the work of over 500 staff in the Department was upgraded to their latest version in July 2011. The parallel upgrade for the backend servers and backup system was also completed during the year.

The Department was invited to participate in a government-wide pilot study for formulating electronic information management (EIM) strategy on content management, record management and knowledge management in 2010. EIM initiatives were identified and recommended to be implemented by phases. In 2011, the Department submitted a funding bid for the implementation of phase 1 initiatives which in the main involves the establishment of an information management foundation for managing electronic information and the setting up of an information storage database.

In preparation for phase 1 implementation of the EIM initiatives upon approval of the funding bid, the Department participated in the development of Government Records Services' Recordkeeping Metadata Standards and Office of Government Chief Information Officer's government-wide Content Management/Knowledge Management Metadata Standards. Upon completion of the development of these government-wide standards, the Department would then develop its own Information Management Foundation to manage electronic information during the EIM phase 1 implementation.

Customer Services

The Department accords high priority in the area of enhancing customer services on an on-going basis.

To this end, a video promoting understanding of the Director of Legal Aid's first charge and its application was produced for public viewing and upload onto the Department's website. The video also provides an overview of the steps involved in the release of monies recovered in the legally aided proceedings to an aided person.

To facilitate ethnic minorities residing in Hong Kong who do not speak English or Chinese to have better access to the legal aid services, the Department had expanded the interpretation service to 10 languages including Bengali, Hindu, Indonesian, Nepali, Punjabi, Tamil, Thai, Tagalog, Urdu and Vietnamese. This service is provided free of charge to the applicants. A poster informing the public of the free service was also produced and displayed in our Hong Kong and Kowloon offices.

A mobile version of the means test calculator in addition to the online calculator on the Department's website was made available to the public. It provides another convenient means for those who wish to apply for legal aid to find out if they are likely to qualify for legal aid on means.

Publicity

The Department continued to participate in various publicity and community programmes to promote public awareness and understanding of legal aid services. This included giving talks by Departmental representatives to universities and NGOs. As in the past, we also actively supported the 'Law Week' organised by the Law Society.

In our continuous effort to promote understanding of mediation in legal aid cases, the Department published a leaflet "Mediation in Legally Aided Matrimonial Cases" for aided persons who were granted legal aid in matrimonial proceedings. At the same time, we continued to provide support and information on mediation in legally aided cases to the Chief Justice's Working Party on Mediation.

During the year, a number of the Department's publications including "Important Notices for Legally-Aided Persons" for Application & Processing Division, Insolvency Litigation Section and Family Litigation Section were revised and updated.

Staff

The Department placed high priority to the training needs of staff. A wide range of courses were arranged in 2011 for staff at all levels including in-house job-related workshop on how to conduct means test, and talks on how to deal with aided persons' enquiries and how to handle complaints. To equip staff to better deal with agitated and emotional customers in the course of their work, a representative from the Hong Kong Police Force came and delivered a talk on prevention of workplace violence.

On the information and technology front, two major legal information service providers were invited to conduct training on online legal research for the professional officers.

Noticing the strong interest expressed by the staff, we had set aside a budget for the purchase of new books on a variety of topics including management, communication, emotional and physical wellbeing and personal development in 2011.
 



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Vision, Mission & Values
Foreword
Departmental Strategic Plan
Legal Aid Services
Case of Public Interest or Concern
Customer Services
Publicity Programmes
Organisation, Administration and Staffing
appendices