Dennis Kwok eNewsletter FEB 2020

24th February 2020

General Adjournment of Court Hearings – Update

The Judiciary has suspended all court hearings (save for a narrow spectrum of urgent applications) for more than 3 weeks now. It is expected that this suspension will continue for some time due to the Coronavirus outbreak.

Whilst we understand why the Courts may have to be closed due to public health concerns, the lack of information and transparency from the Judiciary is disappointing. I requested the Judiciary Administrator (together with representatives of the Bar and Law Society) to attend the AJLS Panel meeting for an urgent discussion of this matter and the following issues:

Immediately enable the filing of applications and submissions via emails by setting up dedicated e-filing systems for each court, with clear details provided to litigants and practitioners. E-filing is long overdue and should have been set up many years ago.

All interlocutory applications should be dealt with by paper disposal as much as possible.

A clear plan to inform all stakeholders on the arrangement for hearings and trials once the Court resumes full operation. The information from the Judiciary so far is seriously lacking in detail. A doubling up of the effort to clear up backlogged cases is urgently required.

The $30 billion Relief Fund

The $30 billion Relief Fund has been approved by the Finance Committee of LegCo after more than 8 hours of deliberation on 21st February. During the meeting, I raised with the Administration on why there has been no relief provided to professional service sectors.

Professional services, like many others, have been hard hit by the Coronavirus outbreak, and we are the backbone of HK’s status as an IFC. This is clearly unacceptable, and I expect and demand the Administration to address this deficiency in the upcoming Budget.

Please stay safe, and contact me should you have any queries.

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