On 27 June 2018, the Legislative Council passed resolutions to increase the civil jurisdictional limits of both the District Court (DC) and the Small Claims Tribunal (SCT). Subject to completion of legislative scrutiny and negative vetting, the amendments are expected to come into effect on 3 December 2018.
The primary aim behind these changes is to allow better distribution of cases among the Court of First Instance (CFI), the DC and the SCT, such that the CFI can concentrate on handling cases with greater complexity or involving higher claim amounts. Apart from easing the caseload in the CFI, the changes are also expected to lower legal costs for parties whose cases may be brought to the DC or the SCT, where legal proceedings are generally less costly.
The changes raise the financial limit of the DC from:
- HK$1 million to HK$3 million, in respect of the DC’s general jurisdiction and equity jurisdiction where the proceedings do not involve or relate to land;
- HK$3 million to HK$7 million in respect of the DC’s equity jurisdiction for claims wholly involving or relating to land; and
- HK$240,000 to HK$320,000 in respect of the DC’s jurisdiction for proceedings involving recovery of land or relating to the title to an interest in land, in terms of annual rent, rateable value or annual value of the land.
Small Claims Tribunal
The SCT will have jurisdiction over claims up to HK$75,000, as opposed to the current upper limit of HK$50,000. Apart from increasing the jurisdictional limit, the claim amounts corresponding to fees will also be adjusted in the Small Claims Tribunal (Fees) Rules. Further details are set out in summary table (b) below.
Overview of changes
In summary, the changes are as follows:
(a) Jurisdictional limit of the DC and the SCT
|Jurisdictional limit||Existing limit (HK$)||Revised limit (HK$)|
|1.||General jurisdiction of the DC||1 million||3 million|
|2.||Equity jurisdiction of the DC for claims not involving or relating to land||1 million||3 million|
|3.||Equity jurisdiction of the DC for claims wholly involving or relating to land||3 million||7 million|
|4.||Jurisdiction of the DC for land matters (in terms of annual rent, rateable value, or annual value of the land)||240,000||320,000|
|5.||Jurisdiction of the SCT||50,000||75,000|
(b) Prescribed fees payable for filing of claims at the SCT
|Current range of claim amount||Revised range of claim amount||Fee (HK$)|
|1.||Claim that does not exceed HK$3,000||Claim that does not exceed HK$5,000||$20|
|2.||Claim that exceeds HK$3,000 but does not exceed HK$17,000||Claim that exceeds HK$5,000 but does not exceed HK$25,000||$40|
|3.||Claim that exceeds HK$17,000 but does not exceed HK$33,000||Claim that exceeds HK$25,000 but does not exceed HK$50,000||$70|
|4.||Claim that exceeds HK$33,000 but does not exceed HK$50,000||Claim that exceeds HK$50,000 but does not exceed HK$75,000||$120|