Adjustment of rates of allowances for jurors, witnesses and OAT adjudicators
Separately, on February 10, the Criminal Procedure Rules Committee made the Criminal Procedure (Witnesses' Allowances) (Amendment) Rules 2017 under section 9B of the Criminal Procedure Ordinance, and the Chief Justice of the Court of Final Appeal made the Coroners (Witnesses' Allowances) (Amendment) Rules 2017 under section 54 of the Coroners Ordinance, to increase the rates of allowances for witnesses in criminal proceedings and coroners' inquests respectively. The Government intends to seek the approval of the LegCo for these two sets of Rules on March 29.
A Government spokesman said, "The increases in the rates of allowances for jurors and witnesses aim at maintaining their real value to minimise any financial loss suffered by members of the public serving as jurors or testifying as witnesses in courts. The proposed rates of allowances are worked out on the basis of the adjustment mechanism approved by the Finance Committee of the LegCo and refined in 2014.
"Regarding the proposed rates of fees payable to adjudicators of the OAT, reference has been drawn to the ceiling of remuneration for non-official members of boards and committees determined by the Government."
In October 1993, when approving the rates of allowances for jurors and witnesses, the LegCo's Finance Committee approved that future changes in the rates of allowances be made in accordance with the movements of the following adjustment indicators:
(a) rates for jurors and ordinary witnesses - to be made in accordance with the movements in the Median Monthly Employment Earnings of Employees (MMEE) in Hong Kong; and
(b) rates for professional and expert witnesses - to be made in accordance with the changes in the mid-point salary of a Medical and Health Officer in Hong Kong as recorded in the Master Pay Scale of the Civil Service Grades, Ranks and Pay Scales.
Following the review conducted by the Judiciary Administration (JA) in 2014, the basis for determining the rates of jurors' allowances was refined to adopt a stratified MMEE computed on the basis of the composition of employees who fulfil the requirement of being empanelled as jurors (i.e. aged 21 or above and below 65 with an education level of matriculation or above, or equivalent).
On the fees payable to adjudicators of the OAT, in an earlier review conducted by the JA, it was considered that as adjudicators come from the general public on a voluntary basis and there is no specific requirement on professional expertise and experience, it is more appropriate to draw reference to the ceiling of remuneration for non-official members of boards and committees determined by the Government in revising the rates. The proposed rates reflect the latest ceiling of remuneration announced by the Government in June 2016.
Subject to the completion of the relevant legislative process, the revised rates of allowances or fees for jurors, witnesses and OAT adjudicators will take effect on a date to be specified by the Chief Justice of the Court of Final Appeal.
Ends/Friday, February 24, 2017
Issued at HKT 14:00
Issued at HKT 14:00