Administration and Development Division

As with any other large organisation, the ability of the Department of Justice to function effectively depends greatly 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 and 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.

Human resources

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:

effective recruitment of new staff

continuous training

proper career planning

effective performance management

long-term succession planning for the senior posts in the department

minimal wastage or loss of experienced staff

good staff relations.

The Department of Justice manned a booth at the Law Fair 2006 to introduce the department's trainee programme to law graduates (January 2006).
A key part of this is the department's highly successful programme of recruitment and training of law graduates. The programme enables graduates from the University of Hong Kong 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 2006, eight law graduates took up trainee places in the department. A total of nine trainees were taken on in 2007. The number of applications on each occasion greatly exceeded the number of places.

Despite the general civil service recruitment freeze, exceptional approval was given for the department to conduct open recruitment exercises in 2005 and 2006 to recruit new counsel on civil service terms to meet service needs. The wastage rate of counsel in the department has been reduced from 8.1% per annum in 1997 to 4.0% in 2007.

Financial management

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.


Para-legal officers attend a China Law Course at Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou (November 2007).
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 2006 and 2007, a total of 4,323 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 and 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 2006 and 2007, a total of seven counsel undertook training attachments to justice bureaus in the Mainland. In addition, one counsel was posted to the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in Geneva 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 National School of Administration, and foreign affairs study programmes and thematic study programmes in the Mainland. In addition, in 2006 and 2007, two short courses on China Law were organised at Sun Yat-sen University for 36 para-legal officers.

Library services

The Department of Justice library is a vital resource for government counsel.
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 89,000 volumes and acquires, on average, a further 1,600 volumes each year. The library catalogue is available on-line, and can be accessed through communal and personal work-stations across the department. 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, some of the CD-ROM and on-line databases can be accessed by counsel and para-legal officers from their desk-top computers in the office and at home. Library staff now use computers to process book circulation, acquisitions, cataloguing, stock-taking and other daily routines.

Information technology (IT)

The Information Technology 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 current 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 IT facilities

The department now has one of the most sophisticated office automation networks in the Government, linking around 1,100 users across 25 different floors or separate locations. All permanent staff in the department have access to either dedicated or shared personal computers equipped with modern word-processing, printing, fax, electronic mail, and internet access for email and legal research. 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 3,370 "hits" per day.

Bilingual Document Management System. This system provides the facility to allow 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.

Library Management System. This system automates all the acquisitions, cataloguing, lending and stock-taking of library publications and allows users to access the library catalogue and to reserve books over the network from their desk-top 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 incorporate the work-flow and monitoring of progress and the fees of cases briefed out to private practitioners and experts to facilitate the integration and generation of management and accounting information.

Administration System. The system provides improved automated processes and monitoring functions for the management of human resources, personnel records, training, inventory and supplies procurement.

Social activities

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.

Department of Justice Staff Club

The Staff Club aims to promote friendship and a sense of belonging amongst 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 calligraphy to yoga, a Christmas lunchtime party and a spring dinner, usually for two to three hundred participants.

In 2006, the Staff Club jointly organised a Chinese Essay Competition with the department's Standing Committee on the Use of Chinese to promote the use of Chinese in the department.

In 2007, to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the establishment of HKSAR and in response to the Civil Service Bureau's "Civil Service Volunteer Action" initiative, the Staff Club organised two events. One was a tree-planting day at Tai Mo Shan to help protect and conserve the environment and the other was a visit to a centre for the elderly to offer care and support to the elderly.

Staff of Law Drafting Division bid the former Law Draftsman, Tony Yen (first row, second from right), farewell on his retirement (March 2007).

Department of Justice staff participate in a tree-planting day at Tai Mo Shan (June 2007).

Staff of Law Drafting Division enjoy a day out in the countryside (November 2007).

Department of Justice staff visit a centre for the elderly (December 2007).

The Department of Justice Mess

Membership of the Mess is confined to counsel and senior officers in the department. 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. Coffee, tea and snacks are provided during office hours, and the Mess serves as a bar after office hours.

There is an active Mess Committee which organises various functions. It is a tradition that counsel members leaving the department are presented with a mug and entertain their colleagues to drinks in the Mess on their departure. The Prosecutions Division organises Mess Nights twice a year, to which judges and lawyers in private practice are invited.

Ngan Hoo-ming, Senior Librarian,
Administration and Development Division
H M Ngan graduated with an honours degree in science studies from McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, and joined the government as an Assistant Librarian in 1979. He acquired the Diploma in Librarianship from the Hong Kong Library Association in 1984. H M worked in a number of departments, including the Housing Department and the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, before being posted to the Administration and Development Division of the Department of Justice as Senior Librarian in 2004.

During his three years in the department, H M has been responsible for the day-to-day management of the departmental library. Apart from handling the various research enquiries generated by counsel in the department, the library staff under H M's supervision are also responsible for the procurement of library materials, including subscriptions to electronic resources such as Westlaw, LexisNexis, etc, under the guidance of the department's Library Committee.

"Working as a librarian in the legal field has enriched my professional experience," he says. "It's challenging and gives me a great deal of job satisfaction when counsel's research needs are properly met. Working in the department is a very rewarding experience, and I treasure the many friends I've met along the way."