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District Court (Hong Kong)

District Court
Map
22°16′48.02″N 114°10′20.48″E / 22.2800056°N 114.1723556°E / 22.2800056; 114.1723556
Established1 July 1997
Location12 Harbour Road, Wan Chai, Victoria, Hong Kong Island
 Hong Kong
Coordinates22°16′48.02″N 114°10′20.48″E / 22.2800056°N 114.1723556°E / 22.2800056; 114.1723556
Authorized byHong Kong Basic Law
Appeals toCourt of Appeal
Websitehttp://www.judiciary.gov.hk/en/index/index.htm
Chief District Judge
CurrentlyJustin Ko
District Court
Traditional Chinese區域法院
Simplified Chinese区域法院
Pre-handover name
Traditional Chinese地方法院

The District Court is the intermediate court system in Hong Kong, having limited criminal and civil jurisdictions. The District Court was established in 1953 with the enactment of the District Court Ordinance.[1] 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.[citation needed]

History

This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (January 2024)

Jurisdiction

Civil jurisdiction

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.[2] 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.[3] 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.[4]

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.[5]

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.[6]

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.[7] Such claims are governed by the Employees' Compensation (Rules of Court) Rules (Cap. 282B)[8] and Practice Direction 18.2.[9]

The District Court has exclusive jurisdiction to deal with claims made under the Sex Discrimination Ordinance (Cap. 480),[10] the Disability Discrimination Ordinance (Cap. 487),[11] the Family Status Discrimination Ordinance (Cap. 527)[12] and the Race Discrimination Ordinance (Cap. 602).[13] Such claims are governed by the District Court Equal Opportunities Rules (Cap. 336G)[14] and Practice Direction SL8.[15]

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.[16] The District Court also hears appeals from taxpayers against assessments by the Collector of Stamp Duty.[17]

Criminal jurisdiction

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.

The District Court hears all serious cases except murder, manslaughter rape and dangerous drug cases where large quantities of drugs have been seized, and can impose a sentence of up to seven years. Cases are heard in either the Cantonese or English language.

A District Court Judge sits alone without a jury. From its establishment in 1953 there have been no juries in the district court. The Attorney General at the time the District Court Ordinance was passed, Arthur Ridehalgh, explained to the Legislative Council that juries were "not infallible" and only a "means to an end" and that every practitioner will have come across cases where a verdict of not guilty was either a "stupid or perverse one." Judges would be required to give reasons for verdict would should be sufficient safeguard.[18]

Composition

Eligibility and appointment

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.[19][20]

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).[21][22]

Limited-term or vacancy-filling Deputy District Judges may be appointed by the Chief Justice.[23]

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, Judge Helen Lo was the first woman to be appointed as a District Judge.[24][25]

District judges are mandated to retire at age 65.[26]

Chief District Judge

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 Chinese Name Tenure Start Tenure End Tenure Length Reason for Tenure End Subsequent Most Senior Judicial Role
1 Clare-Marie Beeson, SBS 貝珊 1 July 1997 30 November 1997 153 days Appointed Judge of the Court of First Instance Same (retired)
2 Richard Neville Hawkes, BBS 韓敬善 19 March 1999 15 May 2001 2 years and 58 days Retired None (retired)
3 Barnabas Fung Wah, GBS 馮驊 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 李瀚良 2 July 2008 15 August 2012 4 years and 45 days Appointed Judge of the Court of First Instance Same (retired)
5 Poon Siu-tung 潘兆童 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 高勁修 6 January 2020 Incumbent 4 years and 136 days

District Judges

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

The Judges of the District Court as of 5 December 2022 are (ranked by seniority):[27]

Chief District Judge

  • Justin Ko

District Judges

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,[60] the Chief Justice frequently makes short-term appointments of District Court judges to sit in the High Court as a Deputy Judge or Master.[61]

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

Deputy District Judges

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.[63]

All Deputy District Judges are, by virtue of their office, Presiding Officers of the Lands Tribunal.[64] In practice, however, only certain Deputy District Judges are assigned to hear cases in the Lands Tribunal.

Forms of address

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

Notes

  1. ^ Previously sat as a High Court Master[28]
  2. ^ Previously sat as a Deputy High Court Judge[29]
  3. ^ Sitting as a Deputy High Court Judge until 30 September 2023[30]
  4. ^ Previously sat as a High Court Master[31]
  5. ^ Previously sat as a Deputy High Court Judge[32]
  6. ^ Acting Registrar of the Court of Final Appeal[33] and sitting as a High Court Master until 31 August 2023[34]
  7. ^ Previously sat as a Deputy High Court Judge[35]
  8. ^ Previously sat as a Deputy High Court Judge[36]
  9. ^ Previously sat as a Deputy High Court Judge[37]
  10. ^ Sitting as a Deputy High Court Judge until 31 October 2023[38]
  11. ^ Sitting as a High Court Master until 31 August 2023[39]
  12. ^ Sitting as a High Court Master until 31 August 2023[40]
  13. ^ Previously sat as a Deputy High Court Judge[41]
  14. ^ Sitting as a Deputy High Court Judge until 31 October 2023.[42] Previously sat as a High Court Master.[43]
  15. ^ Previously sat as a High Court Master[44]
  16. ^ Sitting as a High Court Master until 31 August 2023.[45] Previously sat as a Deputy High Court Judge.[46]
  17. ^ Previously sat as a Deputy High Court Judge[47] and as a High Court Master[48]
  18. ^ Previously sat as a High Court Master[49]
  19. ^ Previously sat as a Deputy High Court Judge[50]
  20. ^ Sitting as a High Court Master until 31 August 2023[51]
  21. ^ Sitting as a High Court Master until 31 August 2023[52]
  22. ^ Previously sat as a High Court Master[53]
  23. ^ Previously sat as a Deputy High Court Judge.[54]
  24. ^ Previously sat as a High Court Master[55]
  25. ^ Sitting as a Deputy High Court Judge until 31 March 2023[56]
  26. ^ Previously sat as a High Court Master[57]
  27. ^ Sitting as a High Court Master until 31 August 2023[58]
  28. ^ Sitting as a High Court Master until 31 August 2023[59]

References

  1. ^ District Court Ordinance - Historical Laws of Hong Kong
  2. ^ District Court Ordinance (Cap. 336), Section 32(1)
  3. ^ District Court Ordinance (Cap. 336), Section 34
  4. ^ District Court Ordinance (Cap. 336), Section 41(3)-(6)
  5. ^ District Court Ordinance (Cap. 336), Section 35
  6. ^ District Court Ordinance (Cap. 336), Section 37
  7. ^ Employees' Compensation Ordinance (Cap. 282), Sections 18A(1) and 21
  8. ^ Employees' Compensation (Rules of Court) Rules (Cap. 282B)
  9. ^ Practice Direction – 18.2 (The Employees' Compensation List)
  10. ^ Sex Discrimination Ordinance (Cap. 480), Section 76
  11. ^ Disability Discrimination Ordinance (Cap. 487), Section 72
  12. ^ Family Status Discrimination Ordinance (Cap. 527), Section 54
  13. ^ Race Discrimination Ordinance (Cap. 602), Section 70
  14. ^ District Court Equal Opportunities Rules (Cap. 336G)
  15. ^ Practice Direction – SL8 (The Equal Opportunities List)
  16. ^ Inland Revenue Ordinance (Cap. 112), Section 75
  17. ^ Stamp Duty Ordinance (Cap. 117), Section 14
  18. ^ Hong Kong Legislative Council. Official Report of Proceedings. Meeting of 14th January, 1953.
  19. ^ District Court Ordinance (Cap. 336), Sections 5 and 14AA
  20. ^ Hong Kong Basic Law, Article 92
  21. ^ Hong Kong Basic Law, Articles 48(6) and 88
  22. ^ Judicial Officers Recommendation Commission Ordinance (Cap. 92)
  23. ^ District Court Ordinance (Cap. 336), Section 7
  24. ^ 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.
  25. ^ Wu, Anna (9 May 2001). Empowering Women of Hong Kong (Speech). The Installation Ceremony of the Zonta Club of Hong Kong. Hong Kong.
  26. ^ "Judicial Officers (Extension of Retirement Age) (Amendment) Ordinance 2019 comes into effect" (PDF).
  27. ^ "Hong Kong Judiciary: List of Judges and Judicial Officers". Archived from the original on 6 January 2018. Retrieved 5 January 2018.
  28. ^ "G.N. 7133", Hong Kong Government Gazette (No. 39, Vol. 22, 28 September 2018)
  29. ^ "G.N. 1533", Hong Kong Government Gazette (No. 13, Vol. 21, 31 March 2017)
  30. ^ "G.N. 2", Hong Kong Government Gazette (No. 1, Vol. 27, 6 January 2023)
  31. ^ "G.N. 5011", Hong Kong Government Gazette (No. 35, Vol. 17, 30 August 2013)
  32. ^ "G.N. 7177", Hong Kong Government Gazette (No. 48, Vol. 22, 29 November 2019)
  33. ^ "G.N. 7007", Hong Kong Government Gazette (No. 49, Vol. 26, 9 December 2022)
  34. ^ "G.N. 7012", Hong Kong Government Gazette (No. 49, Vol. 26, 9 December 2022)
  35. ^ "G.N. 3730", Hong Kong Government Gazette (No. 25, Vol. 25, 25 June 2021)
  36. ^ "G.N. 2209", Hong Kong Government Gazette (No. 13, Vol. 22, 29 March 2018)
  37. ^ "G.N. 1676", Hong Kong Government Gazette (No. 12, Vol. 27, 24 March 2023)
  38. ^ "G.N. 851", Hong Kong Government Gazette (No. 6, Vol. 27, 10 February 2023)
  39. ^ "G.N. 6407", Hong Kong Government Gazette (No. 45, Vol. 26, 11 November 2022)
  40. ^ "G.N. 7011", Hong Kong Government Gazette (No. 49, Vol. 26, 9 December 2022)
  41. ^ "G.N. 5618", Hong Kong Government Gazette (No. 30, Vol. 22, 27 July 2018)
  42. ^ "G.N. 852", Hong Kong Government Gazette (No. 6, Vol. 27, 10 February 2023)
  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. 7013", Hong Kong Government Gazette (No. 49, Vol. 26, 9 December 2022)
  46. ^ "G.N. 569", Hong Kong Government Gazette (No. 5, Vol. 22, 2 February 2018)
  47. ^ "G.N. 952", Hong Kong Government Gazette (No. 8, Vol. 25, 26 February 2021)
  48. ^ "G.N. 1959", Hong Kong Government Gazette (No. 14, Vol. 25, 9 April 2021)
  49. ^ "G.N. 9898", Hong Kong Government Gazette (No. 52, Vol. 21, 29 December 2017)
  50. ^ "G.N. 4838", Hong Kong Government Gazette (No. 31, Vol. 23, 2 August 2019)
  51. ^ "G.N. 7014", Hong Kong Government Gazette (No. 49, Vol. 26, 9 December 2022)
  52. ^ "G.N. 7015", Hong Kong Government Gazette (No. 49, Vol. 26, 9 December 2022)
  53. ^ "G.N. 7854", Hong Kong Government Gazette (No. 49, Vol. 23, 6 December 2019)
  54. ^ "G.N. 6542", Hong Kong Government Gazette (No. 46, Vol. 26, 18 November 2022)
  55. ^ "G.N. 4530", Hong Kong Government Gazette (No. 33, Vol. 24, 14 August 2020)
  56. ^ "G.N. 3428", Hong Kong Government Gazette (No. 27, Vol. 26, 8 July 2022)
  57. ^ "G.N. 4724", Hong Kong Government Gazette (No. 35, Vol. 24, 28 August 2020)
  58. ^ "G.N. 7016", Hong Kong Government Gazette (No. 49, Vol. 26, 9 December 2022)
  59. ^ "G.N. 7017", Hong Kong Government Gazette (No. 49, Vol. 26, 9 December 2022)
  60. ^ "Section 7 Appointment of deputy District Judges". Retrieved 6 January 2018.
  61. ^ see example: "Appointment of Deputy Judge of the Court of First Instance of the High Court" (PDF).
  62. ^ Lands Tribunal Ordinance (Cap. 17) § 4(2)
  63. ^ District Court Ordinance (Cap. 336) § 7
  64. ^ Lands Tribunal Ordinance (Cap. 17) § 4(2)
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District Court (Hong Kong)
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