|Department of Justice
The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region
23rd Floor, High Block, Queensway Government Offices
Enquiries : 2867 2198
Fax : 2877 2353
As with any other large organisation, the ability of the Department of Justice to function effectively depends on the work of its administrative staff, who provide essential support services to its professional officers. The department’s many administrative requirements are the responsibility of the Administration & Development Division. The administrative staff of the department includes managers, accounting and translation officers, library staff, secretaries and clerical officers, providing services ranging from human resources management to information technology.
The people who work for the Department of Justice are its most valuable resource. An important aspect of the division’s human resource function is to ensure that the high calibre of the department’s staff is maintained. This objective is achieved through:
A key part of this is the department’s successful programme of recruitment and training of law graduates. The programme enables graduates from the University of Hong Kong, the Chinese University of Hong Kong (which has provided a PCLL course since 2008) and the City University of Hong Kong to complete within the department the period of practical training required before qualifying as barristers or solicitors. In 2010, 11 law graduates took up trainee places in the department. A total of 11 trainees were taken on in 2011. The number of applications on each occasion greatly exceeded the number of places.
In addition to direct recruitment of law graduates as legal trainees, the department conducted open recruitment exercises in 2009 and 2010 to recruit new counsel on civil service terms to meet service needs. Seventeen and 20 counsel were successfully recruited in the 2009 and 2010 exercises respectively. In 2010, the department also conducted a recruitment exercise for Senior Government Counsel to fill some vacancies in the rank and recruitment exercises were conducted in 2011 to fill vacancies in the Law Translation Officer and Law Clerk grades.
Effective financial management is important to ensure that the available financial resources are put to the best use in enabling the department to carry out its various functions. Annual estimates are prepared taking into account the different needs of the various divisions and financial performance is closely monitored. The exercise of prudent financial principles ensures that the department’s services are delivered within budget.
The division plays an important part in organising a wide range of training activities to equip staff with the necessary knowledge and skills to discharge their duties more effectively and to prepare them for career advancement. During 2010 and 2011, a total of 4 740 places on various kinds of training and development programmes were taken up by staff in the department. Legal, management and communication training was organised in-house, as well as being provided by local institutes and the Civil Service Training & Development Institute. Counsel and para-legal officers were also sponsored to attend law-related courses outside office hours on a course-fee refund basis.
In 2010 and 2011, a total of six counsel undertook training attachments to justice bureaus in the Mainland. In 2010, one counsel was posted to the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in Geneva for two years to widen her experience.
To keep abreast of the latest legal developments, counsel and para-legal officers participated in a range of law seminars, conferences and law-related training programmes. Continuous efforts were made to strengthen understanding of the law and the legal environment in the Mainland. Counsel were nominated to attend national studies courses at Tsinghua University, Peking University and the Chinese Academy of Governance and foreign affairs study programmes and thematic study programmes in the Mainland. In 2010 and 2011, a total of 15 counsel attended the Mainland Legal Studies Course for Government Lawyers of the HKSAR at Peking University.
A vital resource in any legal practice is the law library and the Department of Justice library has one of the most extensive legal research collections in Hong Kong. It houses over 96 000 volumes and acquires, on average, a further 1 000 volumes each year. The new Millennium Integrated Library System was launched successfully in June 2010. This web-based library catalogue is more user-friendly for browsing and searching and allows users to check their borrowing records, and renew/reserve library materials. The library also has a wide range of legal reference materials available in electronic form, either on CD-ROM or on-line databases. To facilitate legal research work, a Directory of Subscribed Electronic Resources is available in the Library Homepage so that counsel and para-legal officers can access these electronic databases from their desk-top computers in the office and at home.
The Information Technology (IT) Management Unit is responsible for the management of the department’s IT systems and information resources. This includes the maintenance and periodic upgrade of existing IT systems, implementation of new projects and planning for future IT needs. The unit is also responsible for providing help-desk services for handling all kinds of IT related services and requests from users, and training staff in the proficient use of the department’s IT systems.
The department’s network links around 1 200 users across 27 different floors or separate locations. All permanent staff in the department have access to either dedicated or shared personal computers equipped with modern office automation functions for word-processing, document management, printing, fax, electronic mail, and internet access. Remote access to the department’s network and facilities is also available.
Bilingual Laws Information System (BLIS). This system enables users to view and search Hong Kong’s legislation in both Chinese and English. BLIS is available free to the public on the internet, including in a simplified Chinese character version. BLIS has proved very popular since its introduction and now has an average of around 4 500 “hits” per day. The contents of BLIS can also be displayed in a user-friendly way on popular mobile devices.
Bilingual Document Management and Archival System. This system allows documents created on the system to be easily located, by reference to criteria such as the author’s name, the title of the document, its date of creation, or by using the system’s full text search facility.
Integrated Library System. This system automates and integrates all the acquisitions, cataloguing and circulation functions, and allows users to access the library catalogue to search and reserve items over the network from their computers.
Work Management System. This system provides up-to-date information about work assignments, workload and work progress of the cases handled by the department. The system enables counsel more efficiently to adjust work priorities and keep track of the different cases and tasks for which they are responsible. It also provides effective tools for managers to monitor the work of the units under their charge. This system has been extended to allow the progress and fees of the cases briefed out to private practitioners and experts to be monitored, which facilitates the integration and generation of management and accounting information. A complaints register has also been set up in the Work Management System to facilitate the recording of complaint cases, the tracking and monitoring of case progress, and the generation of management and statistical reports.
Administration System. The system provides improved automated processes and monitoring functions for the management of human resources, personnel records, training, inventory and supplies procurement.
Two popular organisations within the department, the Staff Club and the Mess, provide staff with an opportunity to enjoy a range of social activities with their colleagues.
The Staff Club aims to promote friendship and a sense of belonging among serving and former staff of the department. It is open to both lawyer and non-lawyer members of the department.
The Staff Club is run by an Executive Committee composed of representatives from different ranks of officers in the department. It organises various activities every year, including classes covering a range of interests from tai-chi to yoga, as well as outdoor activities and annual events such as a Christmas lunchtime party and a spring dinner, usually for two to three hundred participants.
In June 2010 and June 2011, around 20 colleagues from the Tai Chi Workshops participated in a charity performance show organised by Lifeline Express to raise funds for impoverished cataract sufferers in the Mainland.
The Mess provides a place for counsel to discuss cases with their colleagues during the working day, and to relax in friendly surroundings after office hours. Membership is confined to counsel and senior officers in the department.
There is an active Mess Committee which organises various functions and activities to foster an environment of collegiate support. The Mess premises have recently undergone some modest refurbishment with improved facilities.
A tradition has been maintained by departing counsel members that they entertain their colleagues to drinks and light refreshments in the Mess and are presented with a personally engraved mug. From time to time, the Prosecutions Division also hosts Mess Nights, to which judges and lawyers in private practice are invited.