Chapter 4  
Customer Services
 

The Department is committed to developing and maintaining a highly-motivated, caring and responsive workforce and keeps finding ways to better its performance through a customer- focused approach when delivering its services.

 

Performance Pledges

Processing of Applications

In 2015, the Department's actual performance in meeting the various targets set for processing time is set out below:

 
 

Payment to Aided Persons and Service Providers

In 2015-16, the Department paid out $568 million to lawyers/experts/other parties and $1,180 million to legally aided persons. During the year, the Department exceeded all performance targets on payment:

 
 

Analysis of Legal Aid Costs by Nature of Expenditure

Note: These include expenses for land and company searches, court fees & taxing fees, law costs draftsman fees, expert fees, copying charges, bank charges and miscellaneous expenses.

 

Customer Feedback

With a view to enhancing our provision of services to the public, the Department regularly conducts comprehensive surveys on customer feedback on different aspects of the legal aid services. The surveys cover application and processing procedures for legal aid and the Department's in-house litigation services. Different methodologies such as on the spot collection and mail surveys have been used depending on the points of contact and on the stages and types of services rendered to customers. The overall customer satisfaction level remained high in 2015. The charts at Appendix2 illustrate the major findings of the survey on customer feedback.

 

Customer Service Initiatives

Office Accommodation

To provide quality services to the public, the Information & Application Services Unit (IASU) of the Kowloon Branch Office on the 3/F of Mongkok Government Offices was renovated in mid-2015. The project included installing seven interview rooms, setting up a new reception counter and public waiting area. Also, the relocation and renovation work of the Shroff Office in compliance with the barrier-free standard, including tactile guide paths and an accessible Shroff counter, was in progress and expected to come into service in 2016.

 

Payment through Automated Teller Machine (ATM) and internet banking

In addition to the existing payment methods provided to the public for making payments of contributions, judgment debts or costs of the proceedings to the Department in cash, by cheque or through PPS, the system was enhanced in 2015 to accept payments made through ATMs or internet banking with a view to affording greater convenience to anyone who has to make payments to the Department.

 

Enquiries, Complaints and Representations

The Department places great importance on enquiries, complaints and representations received from our customers. Customers’ concerns and suggestions are viewed by the Department as a means of improving its service and ensuring the fulfillment of its statutory functions. The Departmental Customer Service Manager, who is a senior directorate, would meet with a team of Assistant Customer Service Managers and Officers regularly to review feedback on our services and recommend follow up actions where necessary.

 

Complaints

The Assistant Director of Legal Aid (Policy and Development) is the designated Complaint Liaison Officer to coordinate the handling of all the complaints received. Members of the public may lodge complaints in person with the Customer Service Officers of individual sections or by telephone or in writing to the Department by post, email or by fax. All complaints received will be handled according to the Department's complaint handling mechanism which is in compliance with the Government's general complaint handling guidelines. The Department will investigate and handle all complaints impartially and expeditiously. In general, an interim reply will be given within 10 days after the receipt of a complaint, and a substantive reply will be given within 30 days.

 

Representations

To qualify for legal aid, applicants must pass both the means and merits tests. If anyone believes that a person should not have been given legal aid on means and/or merits, he can write to us and let us know the reasons. The Application and Processing Division is responsible for conducting review of representations against grants of legal aid on merits. Representations against grants of legal aid on means are handled by the Special Duties and Research Unit. The Department has published a leaflet to explain the investigation system and to address frequently asked questions. Please visit http://www.lad.gov.hk/eng/documents/ppr/publication/Not_Happy_en.pdf to view the leaflet.

In 2015, the Special Duties and Research Unit received 49 representations against grants of legal aid on means and completed investigation in 32 cases. Seven cases were referred to the police for investigation as to whether any offence was committed under Section 23 of the Legal Aid Ordinance, Cap. 91, and in one case, whether an offence was also committed under Section 18A of the Theft Ordinance, Cap. 210 and Section 36 of Crimes Ordinance, Cap. 200.

 
Means representations received and investigation outcome in 2014-2015:
 

LAD's Hotline Service - the Interactive Voice Response System

The Department's hotline service provides a fast and convenient means for the members of the public to learn about the legal aid services. It has recorded messages in Cantonese, Putonghua and English on different aspects of legal aid services, such as application procedures, eligibility criteria for civil and criminal legal aid, the aided person's liability to contribute towards the costs of aided proceedings etc. Where necessary, callers can speak to a staff member of the Department who will answer their queries concerning legal aid during office hours.

 
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