Costs of applications

Article 26 of the Convention provides that each Central Authority shall bear its own costs in applying the Convention and that a Central Authority may not require any payment from an applicant towards legal costs. However, the Convention permits a Contracting State or territory to make a reservation declaring that it shall not be bound to assume any legal costs except insofar as those costs may be covered by legal aid, and such a reservation has been made in respect of Hong Kong. According to section 13 of the CACO, the legal costs for proceedings commenced under the Convention shall not be borne by the Secretary for Justice or any other authority in Hong Kong (except insofar as those costs may be covered by the grant of legal aid under the Legal Aid Ordinance (Cap. 91)).

Legal aid

The Convention provides that Central Authorities shall take all appropriate measures, where the circumstances so require, to provide or facilitate the provision of legal aid and advice. You can visit the website of the Legal Aid Department of Hong Kong for legal aid information, in particular the details of Legal Aid Schemes for Civil Cases. In order to qualify for legal aid, you have to pass the merits test and the means test. In other words, your financial resources should not exceed the limit for legal aid and you should have a reasonable claim or defence in a case. A legally aided person may be required to pay a contribution towards the costs of the legal proceedings. Please contact the Central Authority of Hong Kong or the Legal Aid Department if you wish to apply for legal aid.

Employing your own lawyers

The legal profession in Hong Kong is divided into two distinct branches -- barristers and solicitors. If you wish to instruct your own lawyers to act on your behalf, you need to engage a firm of solicitors to commence proceedings and assist you in preparing your case. Where appropriate, your solicitor may recommend that you engage the service of a barrister who specializes in cases under the Convention. You can visit the websites of the Law Society of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Bar Association for more information about Hong Kong solicitors and barristers in private practice. You may also contact the Central Authority of Hong Kong if you are not sure as to how to proceed.

Free Legal Service Scheme

The Hong Kong Bar Association is the professional organization of barristers in Hong Kong. The Bar Free Legal Service Scheme provides free legal advice and representation in certain cases.