What's new
Highlights

Environmental Report 2016
The Controlling Officer's Environmental Report 2016 of the Legal Aid Department has been issued. Please view it here.

Revised interest rate on charge on property
The rate of interest on the Director’s First Charge registered on an aided person’s home under Section 18A (3A) of the Legal Aid Ordinance, Cap. 91 changed from 1.157% to 1.131% on 1 June 2017 in line with the provisions of the Legal Aid (Charge on Property) (Rate of Interest) Regulation. The new rate will apply from 1 June 2017 to 31 May 2018.

LAD Departmental Report 2015
The Departmental Report 2015 of the Legal Aid Department has been issued. Please view it here.

Adjustment to Personal Allowances
With effect from 27 February 2017, the amount of personal allowances to be deducted from income when computing an applicant's financial resources has been adjusted.

For full details of the new personal allowances, please click here.

For more information on how the financial resources of an applicant are calculated, please click here.

Submission of e-Bill of Costs by Solicitors Assigned with Criminal Legal Aid Cases
With effect from 29 September 2016, in addition to Case Report Form and Fees Report Form, solicitors assigned with criminal legal aid cases may submit Bill of Costs by electronic means via the Legal Aid Electronic Services Portal (“LAESP”). For access to the LAESP, please click here.

Revision of Chapters 6 - 9 of the Manual for Legal Aid Practitioners
Chapters 6 - 9 have been updated to include provisions concerning conflict of interests that legal aid practitioners or experts should pay attention to. For details, please click here.

Revision of the Standard Reference Letter for Solicitor and the Standard Reference Letter for Counsel
The Standard Reference Letter for Solicitor and the Standard Reference Letter for Counsel have been revised. Please click here to view the Standard Reference Letters.

Submission of e-Fee Note by Counsel Assigned with Criminal Legal Aid Cases
With effective from 27 November 2015, in addition to Case Report Form and Fees Report Form, counsel assigned with criminal legal aid cases may submit Fee Note by electronic means via the Legal Aid Electronic Services Portal (“LAESP”). For access to the LAESP, please click here.

Payment through Bank Automated Teller Machine (ATM) / Internet Banking
With effect from 1 September 2015, you can make any payment to the Legal Aid Department with your ATM cards or credit cards at most of the ATMs affixed with “Bill Payment”/JET Payment” signage. You may also make payment to the Department through the internet banking with most of the banks. For details, please check directly with your banks.

ATM Poster

New Financial Eligibility Limits for Legal Aid
With effect from 17 July 2015, the financial eligibility limits for the Ordinary Legal Aid Scheme (“OLAS”) and the Supplementary Legal Aid Scheme (“SLAS”) have been adjusted upwards. For OLAS, the limit has gone up from $269,620 to $290,380. For SLAS, the adjustment is from $1,348,100 to $1,451,900.

New Financial Resource Bandwidths and Contribution Rates for Legal Aid
With effect from 17 June 2015, the financial resource bandwidths and contribution rates have been revised for the Ordinary Legal Aid Scheme (“OLAS”). For details, please click here.

Updating of Legal Aid Panel
The Legal Aid Department is conducting regular update on the Legal Aid Panel for panel lawyers to provide the latest information concerning their personal particulars as well as their experience and expertise. Please click here to update the information via Legal Aid Electronic Services Portal.

Adding a new Chapter 10 to the Manual for Legal Aid Practitioners
A new Chapter 10 entitled Guidelines for Lawyers Removed from Panel Applying to Re-join the Legal Aid Panel has been added to the Manual for Legal Aid Practitioners. The Guidelines set out the procedures for lawyers previously removed from the Legal Aid Panel by the decisions of the Departmental Committee on Monitoring Assignments to Counsel and Solicitors to apply re-joining the Panel and the criteria for the Department to approve the applications. The Guidelines have been endorsed by the Legal Aid Services Council.

Please click here.

Use PPS to make Legal Aid Payment
Starting from now, the scope of making payment to the Legal Aid Department via the Payment by Phone Service (PPS) has been extended to cover one-off payment of outstanding judgment debt or costs in full amount.

If you are interested in using this payment service, you may visit the PPS webpage at http://www.ppshk.com or telephone 900 00 222 329 / 2311 9876 for application of service.

PPS Poster

Revision of Chapter 4 of the Manual for Legal Aid Practitioners
The ICAC observed since the current system for the assignment of legal aid cases to private legal practitioners is found to be generally in order, they consider there is no further requirement for them to send representative and sit in as member of the DMC. They can better serve the need of the Department in area relating to corruption prevention in the form of consultation instead. The last paragraph of Chapter 4 of the Manual is therefore revised accordingly. Please click here.

Declaration System
As a measure to combat improper conduct relating to assignment of legal aid cases by nomination, a new "Declaration" System will be introduced on 2 September 2013.

Under the System, the nomination form to be completed by aided person will be revised to enhance their awareness of their right to select lawyer and ensure aided persons have not agreed to share damages / costs with others including the nominated lawyers. New conditions of assignment to panel lawyers will also be incorporated into the letter of assignment.

Information Leaflets on Legal Aid Services in Hong Kong for Ethnic Minorities
To promote the legal aid services among ethnic minorities residing in Hong Kong, the Department has published 10 leaflets on legal aid in Vietnamese, Punjabi, Bengali, Hindi, Indonesian, Nepali, Tagalog, Thai, Urdu and Tamil. The leaflets are available at any offices of the Department or they can be downloaded from the Department's website. Please click here. They are also available at relevant Consulate Offices, the Correctional Services Department, Social Welfare Department, Judiciary Resources Centre, Police Stations, Labour Department, Public Enquiries Service Centres of the Home Affairs Department and hospitals under Hospital Authority.

New Financial Eligibility Limits for Legal Aid
With effect from 28 June 2013, the financial eligibility limits for the Ordinary Legal Aid Scheme (“OLAS”) and the Supplementary Legal Aid Scheme (“SLAS”) have been adjusted upwards. For OLAS, the limit has gone up from $260,000 to $269,620. For SLAS, the adjustment is from $1,300,000 to $1,348,100.

LAD News (Issue No. 39)
The LAD News (Issue No. 39) has been issued. Please view it here.

Submission of prescribed e-reports and e-forms by using individual user ID and password
With effect from 1 March 2013, the Legal Aid Electronic Services Portal (LAESP) has been enhanced which enable panel lawyers assigned with legal aid cases to submit certain prescribed e-reports and e-forms by using individual user ID and password instead of digital certificate. The requirement of digital certificate for submission of Legal Aid Panel Data Update and Removal Forms has also been removed. For access to the LAESP, please click here.

Office Re-location Notice
Information & Application Services Unit of our Headquarters Office for handling civil applications and enquiries is now relocated to 25/F. All telephone numbers remain unchanged.

Expansion of the Ordinary Legal Aid Scheme and the Supplementary Legal Aid Scheme
With effective from 30 November 2012, the scopes of the Ordinary Legal Aid Scheme (“OLAS”) and the Supplementary Legal Aid Scheme (“SLAS”) have been expanded covering more types of cases. Details of the expanded scopes and the new rates of contribution payable under SLAS are as follows:

(1)   Expanded OLAS
The scope of OLAS has been expanded to cover monetary claims in derivatives of securities, currency futures or other futures contracts when fraud, misrepresentation or deception is involved in respect of the sale.

(2)   Expanded SLAS
The scope of the SLAS has been expanded to cover the following types of cases where the claim is likely to exceed $60,000 :
  • professional negligence claims against certified public accountants (practising), registered architects, registered professional engineers, registered professional surveyors, registered professional planners, authorized land surveyors, registered landscape architects and estate agents;
  • negligence claims against insurers or their intermediaries in respect of the taking out of personal insurance products; and
  • monetary claims against vendors in the sale of completed or uncompleted first-hand residential properties.
It also covers representation for employees in appeals against awards made by the Labour Tribunal irrespective of the amount in dispute.

(3)   New Rates of Contribution Payable under SLAS
For medical, dental and legal professional negligence claims and the aforementioned additional types of cases covered under SLAS (except representation for employees in appeals against awards made by the Labour Tribunal), an applicant has to pay an initial application fee of $5,000. If the application is successful, the applicant has to pay upon acceptance of legal aid an interim contribution which is set at 10% of the assessed financial resources or $65,000, whichever is the higher. If the proceedings are successful, the aided person is required to pay 20% of the damages recovered into the Supplementary Legal Aid Fund. If the case is settled before the date of commencement of the trial /counsel is briefed to attend trial, the amount to be paid into the Fund will be reduced to 15%.

For details of the different rates of contribution payable for different types of cases covered by the SLAS, please click here.

Use PPS to make Legal Aid Payment
Starting from now, you can make payment to the Legal Aid Department through the Payment by Phone Service (PPS) by using a tone phone or via the Internet for contribution towards the costs of your legal aid case or any instalment payment in respect of outstanding costs due and payable pursuant to a written agreement made with the Department.

If you are interested in using this payment service, you may visit the PPS webpage at http://www.ppshk.com or telephone 900 00 222 329 / 2311 9876 for application of service.

PPS Poster

Amendments to Legal Aid in Criminal Cases Rules
The amendments to Rule 4 and Rule 21 of the Legal Aid in Criminal Cases Rules come into effect on 9 March 2012.

The amended rule 4 expands the scope of legal aid to cover cases heard in the Court of First Instance, Court of Appeal and Court of Final Appeal which do not involve a conviction.

The amended Rule 21 revises the fees payable to counsel and solicitors undertaking criminal legal aid work. Assignments made prior to 9 March 2012 will be paid in accordance with the rates in Rule 21 prior to amendment and assignments made on or after 9 March 2012 will be paid in accordance with the rates under the Amendment Rules.

TV documentary for the operation of Director of Legal Aid's First Charge
A TV documentary was filmed to enhance the public understanding about the operation of the Director of Legal Aid's First Charge and the steps involved in the release of monies recovered in aided proceedings. The documentary is scheduled for public viewing at the Department's offices during office hours. It has also been uploaded onto the Department's homepage. (click here)

Interpretation Service to Ethnic Minorities Applicants
As a customer service initiative to enhance quality of legal aid service for applicants who are of ethnic minority origins, a poster in 10 languages has been designed and put on display advising potential applicants who do not speak English or Chinese of the availability of interpretation service to help them with the application process. You may refer to the poster or download a leaflet about the service in the Department's webpage for information.

Mobile version of Means Test Calculator
The Legal Aid Department has developed a mobile version of Means Test Calculator to enable a prospective legal aid applicant to make a preliminary estimation of his/her financial eligibility for legal aid via mobile phone. For access to the Means Test Calculator, please click here.

On the 18 May 2011, a number of changes have been made that affect the eligibility of an applicant for legal aid. Details are as follows:
(1) Relaxation of Financial Eligibility Limit for Legal Aid
The financial eligibility limit for legal aid has been adjusted upward. The new limit for the Ordinary Legal Aid Scheme ("OLAS") is $260,000 and for the Supplementary Legal Aid Scheme ("SLAS") $1,300,000.

(2) New Basis for Computing Personal Allowances
The median monthly household expenditure is used to replace the 35-percentile household expenditure to work out the amount of statutory allowance to be deducted from the income of an applicant when computing the financial resources of that applicant.

(3) Capital Disregards for Applicants 60 or above
For applicants who are 60 or above, an amount equal to the financial eligibility limit of the Ordinary Legal Aid Scheme will not be taken into account when calculating their disposable capital. The amount to be disregarded at present is therefore $260,000.

For more information on how the financial resources of an applicant are calculated, please click here.

Sample of Pre-Application Information Forms
Samples of completed pre-application information forms for employed or self employed persons are now available at our reception counters if intended applicants require assistance to complete the form. To view or download the samples, please click here.

Use PPS to make Legal Aid Payment
If you are required to pay by instalments any contributions towards the costs of your legal aid case or any sum due to the Department pursuant to a written agreement, you can now do so with the Payment by Phone Service (PPS) by using a tone phone or via the Internet.

If you are interested in using this new payment service, you may visit PPS website at http://www.ppshk.com or ring 900 00 222 329 / 2311 9876 for application of service.

Revision of Manual for Legal Aid Practitioners
The Manual for Legal Aid Practitioners has been updated and revised. For details, please click here.

Information Leaflets on Legal Aid Services in Hong Kong for Ethnic Minorities
In a further effort to promote the legal aid services among ethnic minorities residing in Hong Kong, the Department has published two more leaflets on legal aid in Vietnamese and Punjabi. The leaflets together with the other leaflets in Bengali, Hindi, Indonesian, Nepali, Tagalog, Thai and Urdu are now available at any offices of the Department or they can be downloaded from the Department's website. Please click here. They are also available at relevant Consulate Offices, the Correctional Services Department, Social Welfare Department, Judiciary Resources Centre, Police Stations, Labour Department, Public Enquiries Service Centres of the Home Affairs Department and hospitals under Hospital Authority.

Funding Support for Mediation in Legally Aided Civil Proceedings
Legally aided persons involved in civil proceedings including matrimonial proceedings will now be given funding support for mediation as an alternative means of resolving the disputes for which they are given legal aid as a result of the recently implemented Civil Justice Reform. Assigned solicitors acting for legally aided persons must obtain prior approval from the Director before engaging mediators.

Legal Aid Electronic Services Portal
The Legal Aid Department has on 30th December 2008 launched an electronic platform "E-Portal" to provide a gateway through which members of the public and panel lawyers can gain access to information and can transact certain legal aid business with the Department online to facilitate improved communication. For access to the E-Portal, please click here.

The E-Portal:

  • Allows solicitors / counsel to submit legal aid panel entry / data update forms;
  • Allows assigned solicitors / counsel to submit case report forms;
  • Allows panel lawyers to view or download their recent panel update information which was submitted electronically;
  • Allows members of the public to submit pre-application information for civil and criminal legal aid;
  • Provides a "for reference purpose only" legal aid eligibility calculator for members of the public.

 
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