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Increase in District Court limits is ‘welcome news’

Hong Kong, 17 August 2018: A move to allow the District Court and Small Claims Tribunal to hear cases of higher monetary value has been welcomed by Boase Cohen & Collins Senior Partner Colin Cohen.

The Judiciary Administration has advised that, among a string of changes, the general financial limit of the civil jurisdiction of the District Court will increase from HK$1 million to HK$3 million while the Small Claims Tribunal limit will go up from HK$50,000 to HK$75,000.

The development will see fewer cases sent up to the higher Court of First Instance. “In general, this is welcome news. It ensures better distribution of cases across the Court of First Instance, District Court and Small Claims Tribunal. In particular, it eases the caseload on the Court of First Instance and allows those judges to concentrate on dealing with cases that are of higher value and often more complicated,” said Mr Cohen.

“It is also good news for the parties involved in court proceedings. Litigation costs in the District Court are significantly lower than in the Court of First Instance which, in turn, enhances access to justice. As well, this addresses the issue of disproportionality between the amount of a claim and related costs.

“While noting Hong Kong Bar Association concerns about the need for the quality of District Court judges to be carefully monitored, I believe these latest developments ensure the fairer administration of justice.”

Other changes announced by the Judiciary Administration include:

a) Increasing the financial limit for land matters of the District Court from HK$240,000 to HK$320,000 in terms of the annual rent or the rateable or annual value of the land;
b) Increasing the limit for the equity jurisdiction of the District Court where the proceedings do not involve or relate to land from HK$1 million to HK$3 million;
c) Increasing the limit for the equity jurisdiction of the District Court where the proceedings wholly involve or relate to land from HK$3 million to HK$7 million.

Subject to completion of the scrutiny process, the increases will come into effect on 3 December this year.

CourtLimits PHOTO

The District Court and Small Claims Tribunal will soon be hearing cases of higher monetary value.