The objective of legal aid policy is to ensure that no one with reasonable grounds for taking or defending a legal action in Hong Kong is prevented from doing so because of a lack of means. Legal aid service is an integral part of Hong Kong's legal system.
Legal aid service in Hong Kong is provided by the Legal
Aid Department (LAD) and the Duty Lawyer Service
(DLS). The Legal Aid Services Council (LASC)
is a statutory body that supervises the provision of legal
aid services in Hong Kong provided by LAD and to advise the
Chief Executive (CE) on legal aid policy.
Legal Aid Department
LAD provides legal aid in legal representation for civil proceedings and criminal proceedings in District Court and above. Legal aid is also available for committal proceedings in the Magistrates' Courts for criminal proceedings. To qualify for legal aid, an applicant has to pass both the means test and the merits test.
Duty Lawyer Service
DLS is incorporated as a company limited by guarantee, independently managed by the Hong Kong Bar Association and the Law Society of Hong Kong through a governing Council. It is subvented by the Government.
DLS implements three legal assistance schemes to complement
the legal aid services provided by LAD. The Duty Lawyer
Scheme provides legal representation to defendants in
Magistrates Courts, Juvenile Courts and Coroners Courts. Applicants
have to pass a simple means test and pay a handling charge.
The Free Legal Advice Scheme provides free preliminary
legal advice to members of the public in the evening at nine
District Offices. Members of the public can make appointments
through over 150 locations.
The Tel-Law Scheme is a 24-hour free telephone enquiry
service, which provides taped legal information on various
topics of interest, including matrimonial, landlord and tenant,
criminal, financial, employment and administrative law matters.
There is also an on-line version of the Tel-Law Service on
the website of DLS.
Legal Aid Services Council
Established in 1996 under the Legal Aid Services Council Ordinance (Cap. 489), LASC is an independent statutory body set up to oversee the administration of legal aid services provided by LAD and to advise the CE on legal aid policy.