In order to address the difficulties encountered by maintenance
payees in collecting and enforcing maintenance payments, an
Inter-departmental Working Group (WG) convened by the Home
Affairs Bureau (HAB) reviewed the law and administrative measures
affecting maintenance payees and published a report in May
The WG's Recommendations
In 1999 the WG sought views from about 30 organisations,
including non-governmental organisations (NGOs), Provisional
District Boards and professional bodies. In its report released
in May 2000, the WG made a series of recommendations, which
have all been accepted by the Administration. The key recommendations
- relax the circumstances in which the court can issue Attachment
of Income Orders;
- empower the court to impose a surcharge against defaulting
- amend the provisions related to judgment summons;
- synchronise the procedures in processing applications
for the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA)
and legal aid; and
- undertake publicity and public education on matters relating
(a) Attachment of Income Orders
The Attachment of Income Order (Amendment) Ordinance and
the Attachment of Income Order (Amendment) Rules came into
operation on 25 January 2002. These two pieces of legislation
give effect to the WG recommendations that -
- the court be empowered to issue an Attachment of Income
Order (AIO) at any stage either where both parties agree
for such an order to be made or where there are reasonable
grounds to believe that the maintenance payer would not
make full and punctual payment. The court may issue an order
on the application of either party or of its own volition;
- the court be given discretion to dispense with certain
steps in the court procedures and to abridge the time limits
provided for in the legislation if the Court considers such
variation to be fair and reasonable in the particular circumstances
of a case.
here for further information on the AIO Scheme.
(b) Interest and Surcharge on Arrears of Maintenance
The Interest and Surcharge on Arrears of Maintenance Ordinance
2003 ("the Ordinance") comes into effect on 1 May 2005. The
Ordinance provides for two new legislative measures - interest
on arrears of maintenance to compensate the payee for monetary
loss due to default by the payer in paying maintenance, and
surcharge to deter repeated default without reasonable excuse.
Under the Ordinance, a maintenance payee is entitled to automatic
interest at the judgment rate on the amount of maintenance
in arrears, or at a rate to be determined by the court. He
or she can also apply to the court for surcharge on the arrears
of maintenance where he or she considers that the maintenance
payer has repeatedly defaulted payment without reasonable
excuse. The court may impose a surcharge up to 100% of the
arrears of maintenance.
To facilitate the parties concerned (including maintenance
payees and payers, social workers and lawyers) in working
out the calculations, the Administration has prepared a computer
programme. The programme is available in two versions, the
on-line and off-line versions.
here to access the thematic website on Interest and Surcharge
on Arrears of Maintenance.
(c) Judgment Summons
We are working on the proposed legislative amendments.
(d) Procedures for Applications for CSSA and Legal
The synchronized procedures have been implemented since September
Publicity and Public Education
We have publicity and public education measures to make maintenance payees aware of their rights and services available to them and to drive home the message that even after divorce, maintenance payers are responsible for providing for their ex-spouses and children.