Wikipedia

District Court (Hong Kong)

District Court
Established 1 July 1997
Location 12 Harbour Road, Wan Chai, Victoria, Hong Kong Island

 Hong Kong
Coordinates 22°16′48.02″N 114°10′20.48″E  /  22.2800056°N 114.1723556°E  / 22.2800056; 114.1723556 Coordinates: 22°16′48.02″N114°10′20.48″E / 22.2800056°N 114.1723556°E / 22.2800056; 114.1723556
Authorized by Hong Kong Basic Law
Appeals to Court of Appeal
Website http://www.judiciary.gov.hk/en/index/index.htm
Chief District Judge
Currently His Honour Judge Justin Ko
District Court
Traditional Chinese 區域法院
Pre-handover name
Traditional Chinese 地方法院

The District Court is the lower court system in Hong Kong, having both criminal and civil jurisdictions. It is located in the Wanchai Law Courts, Wanchai Tower, 12 Harbour Road. In the past there were six district courts, namely Victoria, Kowloon, Fanling, Tsuen Wan, Tuen Mun and Sha Tin, before being amalgamated and moved to the same location in March 1991.

Jurisdiction [ edit ]

Civil jurisdiction [ edit ]

The District Court has limited civil jurisdiction. For a contract, quasi-contract or tort claim to be handled by the District Court, it should be for an amount over HK$75,000 but not more than HK$3 million.[1] If the claim is more than HK$3 million, the claim can still be pursued in the District Court (instead of the Court of First Instance of the High Court) provided that the excess is abandoned.[2] If the claim is HK$75,000 or less, an adverse costs order may be made against the winning plaintiff due to pursuing its claim in the wrong court.

If the plaintiff's claim does not exceed HK$3 million, but the defendant counterclaims for over HK$3 million, the claim and the counterclaim (or the counterclaim only) may be transferred to the Court of First Instance of the High Court. For good reasons, the District Court may continue to handle the whole case even when the counterclaim exceeds HK$3 million, but a report has to be made to the High Court, which may order that the case be transferred.[3]

As to claims for possession of land, the District Court can deal with buildings or premises the annual rent or rateable value or the annual value of which does not exceed HK$320,000.[4]

If a claimant invokes the District Court's equity jurisdiction, the above limits are equally applicable, except that in proceedings wholly relating to land, the maximum value shall not exceed HK$7 million.[5]

Distraint claims are handled by the District Court.

The District Court has exclusive jurisdiction to determine claims for compensation payable under the Employees' Compensation Ordinance (Cap. 282), regardless of the amount.[6] Such claims are governed by the Employees' Compensation (Rules of Court) Rules (Cap. 282B)[7] and Practice Direction 18.2.[8]

The District Court has exclusive jurisdiction to deal with claims made under the Sex Discrimination Ordinance (Cap. 480),[9] the Disability Discrimination Ordinance (Cap. 487),[10] the Family Status Discrimination Ordinance (Cap. 527)[11] and the Race Discrimination Ordinance (Cap. 602).[12] Such claims are governed by the District Court Equal Opportunities Rules (Cap. 336G)[13] and Practice Direction SL8.[14]

The District Court has jurisdiction to handle claims by the Inland Revenue Department against defaulting taxpayers to recover outstanding tax due to the Government, regardless of the amount.[15] The District Court also hears appeals from taxpayers against assessments by the Collector of Stamp Duty.[16]

Criminal jurisdiction [ edit ]

The system is modelled after the English legal system, with indictable offences being taken up by the District Court if they are transferred from the magistrate's court. A District Court Judge sits alone without a jury.

The District Court hears all serious cases except murder, manslaughter and rape, and can impose a sentence of up to seven years. Cases are heard in either the Cantonese or English language.

Composition [ edit ]

Eligibility and appointment [ edit ]

A person who has practised for at least 5 years as a barrister, advocate, solicitor or judicial officer in Hong Kong or another common law jurisdiction is eligible to be appointed as a Judge, Registrar or Master of the District Court.[17][18]

District Judges, as well as the Registrar and Masters of the District Court, are appointed by the Chief Executive on the recommendation of the independent Judicial Officers Recommendation Commission (JORC).[19][20]

Limited-term or vacancy-filling Deputy District Judges may be appointed by the Chief Justice.[21]

It is not uncommon for a person to sit as a short-term Deputy District Judge prior to appointment in a permanent capacity.

In 1986, Her Honour Judge Helen Lo was the first woman to be appointed as a District Judge.[22][23]

District judges are mandated to retire at age 65.[24]

Chief District Judge [ edit ]

The Chief District Judge is the Court Leader of the District Court.

The Judges who have held the position of Chief District Judge to date are:

No. Name Tenure Start Tenure End Tenure Length Reason for Tenure End Later Most Senior Judicial Role
1 Clare-Marie Beeson, SBS 1 July 1997 30 November 1997 153 days Appointed Judge of the Court of First Instance Same (retired)
2 Richard Neville Hawkes, BBS 19 March 1999 1 July 2001 2 years and 105 days Retired None (retired)
3 Barnabas Fung Wah, GBS 16 May 2001 26 November 2006 5 years and 195 days Appointed Judge of the Court of First Instance Same
4 Patrick Li Hon-leung 2 July 2008 15 August 2012 4 years and 45 days Appointed Judge of the Court of First Instance Same
5 Poon Siu-tung 17 September 2012 13 January 2019 6 years and 119 days Appointed Judge of the Court of First Instance Same
6 Justin Ko King-sau 6 January 2020 Incumbent 332 days

District Judges [ edit ]

District Judges are referred to as ‘His/Her Honour Judge [surname]’.

The current Judges of the District Court (as at 3 January 2020) are (ranked according to seniority):[25]

Chief District Judge

  • His Honour Judge Justin Ko

District Judges

  • His Honour Judge Michael Wong[Note 1]
  • His Honour Judge Stanley Chan[Note 2]
  • His Honour Judge Simon Leung[Note 3]
  • Her Honour Judge Sharon Melloy
  • His Honour Judge Eddie Yip
  • Her Honour Judge Katina Levy[Note 4]
  • His Honour Judge C K Chan (Principal Family Court Judge)
  • His Honour Judge Frankie Yiu[Note 5]
  • His Honour Judge K W Wong[Note 6]
  • His Honour Judge Douglas Yau[Note 7]
  • His Honour Judge W K Kwok
  • His Honour Judge Josiah Lam[Note 8]
  • His Honour Judge Anthony Kwok[Note 9]
  • His Honour Judge David Dufton
  • His Honour Judge S M Sham[Note 10]
  • Her Honour Judge Amanda Woodcock[Note 11]
  • His Honour Judge K H Hui[Note 12]
  • His Honour Judge Jack Wong[Note 13]
  • Her Honour Judge Katherine Lo[Note 14]
  • His Honour Judge Johnny Chan[Note 15]
  • His Honour Judge Gary Lam[Note 16]
  • His Honour Judge Andrew Li
  • His Honour Judge Herbert Au-Yeung[Note 17]
  • His Honour Judge Harold Leong[Note 18]
  • His Honour Judge Kent Yee[Note 19]
  • His Honour Judge Roy Yu[Note 20]
  • His Honour Judge C P Pang[Note 21]
  • His Honour Judge Timothy Casewell
  • His Honour Judge Simon Lo[Note 22]
  • His Honour Judge Isaac Tam[Note 23]
  • Her Honour Judge Angela Kot[Note 24]
  • His Honour Judge Reuden Lai[Note 25]
  • His Honour Judge George Own
  • Her Honour Judge Grace Chan[Note 26]
  • His Honour Judge L W Wong
  • His Honour Judge M K Liu[Note 27]
  • His Honour Judge Edmond Lee[Note 28]
  • Her Honour Judge Winnie Tsui[Note 29]
  • His Honour Judge Clement Lee
  • His Honour Judge Ernest Lin
  • Her Honour Judge Adriana Tse Ching[Note 30]
  • His Honour Judge K K Pang
  • His Honour Judge K C Chan
  • Her Honour Judge Phoebe Man[Note 31]

Pursuant to a general power of appointment to vacancies or on a temporary basis under sections 10 and 37A of the High Court Ordinance, Cap. 4,[58] the Chief Justice frequently makes short-term appointments of District Court judges to sit in the High Court as a Deputy Judge or Master.[59]

All District Judges are, by virtue of their office, Presiding Officers of the Lands Tribunal.[60] In practice, however, only certain District Judges are assigned to hear cases in the Lands Tribunal.

Deputy District Judges [ edit ]

The Chief Justice appoints on a temporary basis a number of Permanent Magistrates, retired judges and practitioners in private practice to sit as Deputy District Judges. A Deputy District Judge may exercise all the jurisdiction, powers and privileges of a District Judge.[61]

All Deputy District Judges are, by virtue of their office, Presiding Officers of the Lands Tribunal.[62] In practice, however, only certain Deputy District Judges are assigned to hear cases in the Lands Tribunal.

Forms of address [ edit ]

All Judges of the District Court (regardless of whether Chief District Judge, Judges or Deputy Judges) are addressed in court as "Your Honour".

In court judgments and decisions, District Judges are referred to as 'His/Her Honour Judge [surname]', 'HH Judge [surname]' or 'HHJ [surname]'. Deputy District Judges are referred to as 'Deputy District Judge [surname]' or 'DDJ [surname]'.

See also [ edit ]

Notes [ edit ]

  1. ^ Previously sat as a High Court Master[26]
  2. ^ Previously sat as a Deputy High Court Judge[27]
  3. ^ Previously sat as a Deputy High Court Judge[28]
  4. ^ Previously sat as a High Court Master[29]
  5. ^ Previously sat as a Deputy High Court Judge[30]
  6. ^ Acting Registrar of the Court of Final Appeal[31] and sitting as a High Court Master until 31 May 2021[32]
  7. ^ Sitting as a Deputy High Court Judge until 26 February 2021[33]
  8. ^ Previously sat as a Deputy High Court Judge[34]
  9. ^ Previously sat as a Deputy High Court Judge[35]
  10. ^ Previously sat as a Deputy High Court Judge[36]
  11. ^ Previously sat as a Deputy High Court Judge[37]
  12. ^ Sitting as a High Court Master until 31 May 2021[38]
  13. ^ Sitting as a High Court Master until 31 May 2021[39]
  14. ^ Previously sat as a High Court Master[40]
  15. ^ Previously sat as a Deputy High Court Judge[41]
  16. ^ Previously sat as a Deputy High Court Judge[42]
  17. ^ Previously sat as a High Court Master[43]
  18. ^ Previously sat as a High Court Master[44]
  19. ^ Previously sat as a Deputy High Court Judge[45]
  20. ^ Sitting as a High Court Master until 31 May 2021[46]
  21. ^ Sitting as a Deputy High Court Judge until 26 February 2021[47]
  22. ^ Previously sat as a High Court Master[48]
  23. ^ Previously sat as a Deputy High Court Judge [49]
  24. ^ Sitting as a High Court Master until 31 May 2021[50]
  25. ^ Sitting as a High Court Master until 31 May 2021[51]
  26. ^ Previously sat as a High Court Master[52]
  27. ^ Sitting as a Deputy High Court Judge until 31 December 2020[53]
  28. ^ Sitting as a High Court Master until 17 May 2021[54]
  29. ^ Sitting as a High Court Master until 9 November 2020[55]
  30. ^ Sitting as a High Court Master until 28 May 2021[56]
  31. ^ Sitting as a High Court Master until 13 June 2021[57]

References [ edit ]

  1. ^ District Court Ordinance (Cap. 336), Section 32(1)
  2. ^ District Court Ordinance (Cap. 336), Section 34
  3. ^ District Court Ordinance (Cap. 336), Section 41(3)-(6)
  4. ^ District Court Ordinance (Cap. 336), Section 35
  5. ^ District Court Ordinance (Cap. 336), Section 37
  6. ^ Employees' Compensation Ordinance (Cap. 282), Sections 18A(1) and 21
  7. ^ Employees' Compensation (Rules of Court) Rules (Cap. 282B)
  8. ^ Practice Direction – 18.2 (The Employees' Compensation List)
  9. ^ Sex Discrimination Ordinance (Cap. 480), Section 76
  10. ^ Disability Discrimination Ordinance (Cap. 487), Section 72
  11. ^ Family Status Discrimination Ordinance (Cap. 527), Section 54
  12. ^ Race Discrimination Ordinance (Cap. 602), Section 70
  13. ^ District Court Equal Opportunities Rules (Cap. 336G)
  14. ^ Practice Direction – SL8 (The Equal Opportunities List)
  15. ^ Inland Revenue Ordinance (Cap. 112), Section 75
  16. ^ Stamp Duty Ordinance (Cap. 117), Section 14
  17. ^ District Court Ordinance (Cap. 336), Sections 5 and 14AA
  18. ^ Hong Kong Basic Law, Article 92
  19. ^ Hong Kong Basic Law, Articles 48(6) and 88
  20. ^ Judicial Officers Recommendation Commission Ordinance (Cap. 92)
  21. ^ District Court Ordinance (Cap. 336), Section 7
  22. ^ Hutton, Mercedes (25 October 2019). "'Sex has nothing to do with it', said Hong Kong's first female judge Helen Lo". South China Morning Post.
  23. ^ Wu, Anna (9 May 2001). Empowering Women of Hong Kong (Speech). The Installation Ceremony of the Zonta Club of Hong Kong. Hong Kong.
  24. ^ (PDF)https://www.hkcfa.hk/filemanager/PressRelease/en/upload/55/press_release_20191206_01en.pdf. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  25. ^ "Hong Kong Judiciary: List of Judges and Judicial Officers". Archived from the original on 6 January 2018. Retrieved 5 January 2018.
  26. ^ "G.N. 7133", Hong Kong Government Gazette (No. 39, Vol. 22, 28 September 2018)
  27. ^ "G.N. 1533", Hong Kong Government Gazette (No. 13, Vol. 21, 31 March 2017)
  28. ^ "G.N. 5925", Hong Kong Government Gazette (No. 39, Vol. 23, 27 September 2019)
  29. ^ "G.N. 5011", Hong Kong Government Gazette (No. 35, Vol. 17, 30 August 2013)
  30. ^ "G.N. 7177", Hong Kong Government Gazette (No. 48, Vol. 22, 29 November 2019)
  31. ^ "G.N. 4716", Hong Kong Government Gazette (No. 35, Vol. 24, 28 August 2020)
  32. ^ "G.N. 4727", Hong Kong Government Gazette (No. 35, Vol. 24, 28 August 2020)
  33. ^ "G.N. 4718", Hong Kong Government Gazette (No. 35, Vol. 24, 28 August 2020)
  34. ^ "G.N. 2209", Hong Kong Government Gazette (No. 13, Vol. 22, 29 March 2018)
  35. ^ "G.N. 8809", Hong Kong Government Gazette (No. 22, Vol. 22, 1 June 2018)
  36. ^ "G.N. 2120", Hong Kong Government Gazette (No. 13, Vol. 23, 29 March 2019)
  37. ^ "G.N. 967", Hong Kong Government Gazette (No. 5, Vol. 23, 1 February 2019)
  38. ^ "G.N. 4725", Hong Kong Government Gazette (No. 35, Vol. 24, 28 August 2020)
  39. ^ "G.N. 4726", Hong Kong Government Gazette (No. 35, Vol. 24, 28 August 2020)
  40. ^ "G.N. 7189", Hong Kong Government Gazette (No. 39, Vol. 21, 29 September 2017)
  41. ^ "G.N. 5317", Hong Kong Government Gazette (No. 35, Vol. 23, 30 August 2019)
  42. ^ "G.N. 5618", Hong Kong Government Gazette (No. 30, Vol. 22, 27 July 2018)
  43. ^ "G.N. 3033", Hong Kong Government Gazette (No. 19, Vol. 23, 10 May 2019)
  44. ^ "G.N. 9", Hong Kong Government Gazette (No. 1, Vol. 22, 5 January 2018)
  45. ^ "G.N. 569", Hong Kong Government Gazette (No. 5, Vol. 22, 2 February 2018)
  46. ^ "G.N. 4730", Hong Kong Government Gazette (No. 35, Vol. 24, 28 August 2020)
  47. ^ "G.N. 2673", Hong Kong Government Gazette (No. 22, Vol. 24, 29 May 2020)
  48. ^ "G.N. 9898", Hong Kong Government Gazette (No. 52, Vol. 21, 29 December 2017)
  49. ^ "G.N. 4838", Hong Kong Government Gazette (No. 31, Vol. 23, 2 August 2019)
  50. ^ "G.N. 4728", Hong Kong Government Gazette (No. 35, Vol. 24, 28 August 2020)
  51. ^ "G.N. 4729", Hong Kong Government Gazette (No. 35, Vol. 24, 28 August 2020)
  52. ^ "G.N. 7854", Hong Kong Government Gazette (No. 49, Vol. 23, 6 December 2019)
  53. ^ "G.N. 5029", Hong Kong Government Gazette (No. 37, Vol. 24, 11 September 2020)
  54. ^ "G.N. 4530", Hong Kong Government Gazette (No. 33, Vol. 24, 14 August 2020)
  55. ^ "G.N. 804", Hong Kong Government Gazette (No. 7, Vol. 24, 14 February 2020)
  56. ^ "G.N. 4724", Hong Kong Government Gazette (No. 35, Vol. 24, 28 August 2020)
  57. ^ "G.N. 5032", Hong Kong Government Gazette (No. 75, Vol. 24, 11 September 2020)
  58. ^ "Section 7 Appointment of deputy District Judges". Retrieved 6 January 2018.
  59. ^ see example: "Appointment of Deputy Judge of the Court of First Instance of the High Court"(PDF).
  60. ^ Lands Tribunal Ordinance (Cap. 17) § 4(2)
  61. ^ District Court Ordinance (Cap. 336) § 7
  62. ^ Lands Tribunal Ordinance (Cap. 17) § 4(2)

External links [ edit ]

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