2010 was a busy and dynamic year for the Legal Aid Department. It was a year that has seen the continued development and implementation of a number of new initiatives and measures to meet the Department's aim of delivering quality legal aid services. I am pleased to highlight below some of the important events that occurred in the past year. 

Mr William Chan Heung-ping
Director of Legal Aid

Review of Criminal Legal Aid Fees and Scope

In addition to the review of the payment structure for lawyers undertaking criminal legal aid work, a review was also conducted to expand the scope of criminal legal aid to cover cases heard in the Court of Appeal and the Court of Final Appeal that do not involve a conviction. The process of implementing the reviews through legislative amendments had started with the Department providing assistance to the Home Affairs Bureau to prepare the necessary amendment regulations for approval by the Legislative Council.  

Launch of Phone Payment Service

On the customer service front, the Department launched the Phone Payment Service (PPS) in June 2010 so that aided persons and judgment debtors with installment payments could save themselves a trip to our offices every time they make a payment through the use of PPS. Since implementation, it was noted there was a steady increase of payments via the use of this new service. The Department would review the use of this service with a view to further expanding it to other types of payments. 

Electronic Information Management (EIM) Strategy Study

The Department was invited by the Office of Government Chief Information Officer to participate in a government-wide pilot project aimed at formulating an electronic information management strategy on content management, record management and knowledge management. The pilot project began in February 2010 and was completed in October 2010. As a result, the Department decided to implement the recommendations in three phases. The Department has applied for funding provision for phase 1 implementation which was anticipated to be forthcoming in 2011.

Mr William Chan Heung-ping
Director of Legal Aid

Launch of Revamped Departmental Website

The departmental website was revamped and the new website was launched in November 2010.  The new website has a more artful design with flash animation that makes our homepage easier to navigate and user friendly. Since the revamp, we were pleased to see a notable increase in the click rate and the download rate on our publications and public forms by members of the public.

Commendation awards to staff

I wish also to take this opportunity to extend my congratulations to two of my  colleagues for receiving awards for their commendable performance and service to the public during the year.  Ms Fanny Mok, Senior Law Clerk I (Application & Processing Division) was awarded the Secretary for Civil Service's Commendation Award in recognition of her commitment and dedication to her duties. Ms Winnie Lau, Deputy Departmental Secretary received the Ombudsman Award for the contribution she made to enhance customer service and cultivate a service culture in the Department especially in the area of complaint handling.

Looking ahead

This is my first report as Director of Legal Aid. In the years ahead, I will continue, together with my colleagues, to look for ways to improve delivery of our services to the public. In this connection, members of the Legal Aid Services Council under the astute leadership of the Chairman, Mr Paul Chan, have given us a great deal of support and offered many valuable and insightful advice on the provision of legal aid services. We very much appreciate the Council's contribution and look forward to working closely with them to better the quality of our service. I would also like to express my heartfelt gratitude to all my colleagues for their dedication and hard work as well as unfailing support.

    Mr William CHAN Heung-ping
    Director of Legal Aid