The Apology Ordinance has been gazetted today and will come into force on 1 December 2017. The law was passed on 13 July and is intended to facilitate the resolution of civil disputes in the territory. Hong Kong is the first jurisdiction in Asia to enact apology legislation and its Apology Law is the broadest enacted to date worldwide.

The Apology Ordinance reforms the legal consequences of making any sort of apology (written, oral or by conduct). An apology will not constitute an admission of fault or liability (even if it includes such an admission), nor may it be admissible in evidence to the detriment of the apology maker. This is the case unless the maker of the apology wishes it to be admitted or it falls to be admitted in the usual way through discovery, oral evidence or an equivalent tribunal process. The law has far-reaching consequences for anyone involved in contentious civil disputes, whether before the courts or tribunals in Hong Kong. The Apology Ordinance has the scope substantially to change the way insurance, evidence and settlement are approached in civil proceedings and regulatory and disciplinary matters. For more details on the impact of the Ordinance, please click here.