On 31st August 2009, the Hong Kong government launched a public consultation on the drafting approach and direction for the new Copyright Tribunal rules.

The Copyright Tribunal is established under the Copyright Ordinance and is responsible for hearing and resolving disputes relating to the use of copyrighted works. The new rules are intended to provide flexible, convenient and cost-effective proceedings consistent with contemporary dispute resolution practice.

The main proposals are as follows:

  • To apply the relevant Civil Justice Reform as the fundamental value of dispute resolution before the tribunal. The underlying objectives for this include:
    • Cost-effectiveness maximization.
    • Expeditious and practical disposition of cases.
    • Fairness between the parties.
    • Facilitation of settlement of disputes.
    • Fair distribution of resources of the Tribunal.
  • To prescribe one standard procedure and application form for all types of application/reference before the tribunal.
  • To empower the tribunal to exercise active case management, for which the proposed measures to be adopted are:
    • Implementation of use of statements of truth to verify the pleaded facts and evidence submitted.
    • Implementation of case management conferences and pre-hearing reviews.
    • Imposition of remedies and sanctions for non-compliance with the rules.
  • To promote alternative dispute resolution. This is in line with the Civil Justice Reform to encourage and facilitate the use of mediation in appropriate cases.
  • To empower a single member of the tribunal to exercise certain adjudication powers. All interlocutory applications may generally be heard by a single member of the tribunal and the presiding single member is empowered to exercise active case management, as indicated above.
  • To use practice directions to regulate proceedings before the tribunal, if appropriate.
  • To prescribe a set of self-contained rules.The current Copyright Tribunal Rules rely on certain provisions of the Arbitration Ordinance (which will soon be repealed by the Arbitration Bill 2009) to regulate proceedings before the tribunal. It is proposed that such references be removed.

The proposals are intended to bring the new rules further in line with the Civil Justice Reform, which became effective from 1st April 2009.