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Judiciary (Five-day Week) (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2016 gazetted

     The Government published in the Gazette today (February 26) the Judiciary (Five-day Week) (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2016, which seeks to implement the final phase of a five-day week in the Judiciary.

     The Judiciary started to implement a five-day week in phases from 2006. With the earlier two phases implemented, there are now generally no court sittings on Saturdays.

     The implementation of the final phase of a five-day week in the Judiciary requires legislative amendments. In general, the court offices will be closed on Saturdays. They include court registries and accounts offices of various levels of court, Bailiffs' Offices, the Probate Registry and the Oaths and Declarations Office.

     The Judiciary will ensure that essential public services will not be affected as a result of the implementation of the final phase. Specifically, the proposals will not affect the handling of fresh remand cases at Magistrates' Courts, and urgent cases and applications made to various levels of court. These cases may continue to be handled outside office hours, including Saturdays, as necessary.

     After the full implementation of a five-day week, the opening hours of the court offices will be extended by 45 minutes per week, so that they will open from 8.45am to 1pm and from 2pm to 5.30pm, Mondays to Fridays. The Judiciary will also put in place administrative arrangements to facilitate the opening of court offices on Saturdays, as necessary, to cater for any possible bail payments and related applications.

     The main purpose of the Bill is to exclude Saturdays for the computation of time for court proceedings, so that the closure of a registry, etc, on that day will not deprive a litigant's or the prosecution's right. For example, if the last day for filing a claim, initiating prosecution or taking a step in court proceedings falls on a Saturday, that day will be discounted.

     The Judiciary has consulted various stakeholders, including the Hong Kong Bar Association, the Law Society of Hong Kong and the relevant court users committees, on the Bill. They have indicated support for the Bill.

     The Government and the Judiciary have earlier consulted the Legislative Council (LegCo) Panel on Administration of Justice and Legal Services on the Bill. The Panel indicated support. The Government plans to introduce the Bill into the LegCo for scrutiny on March 16.

Ends/Friday, February 26, 2016
Issued at HKT 14:30


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