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Merger of Western and Eastern Magistrates' Courts


The following is issued on behalf of the Judiciary:

The Judiciary announced today (December 6) that the Western Magistrates' Courts will merge with the Eastern Magistrates' Courts with effect from January 2, 2004.

"The Western Magistrates' Courts will cease operation on the same day after serving the community for 18 years," a Judiciary spokesman said.

"All court proceedings currently handled by the Western Magistrates' Courts will be absorbed by the Eastern Magistrates' Courts and other courts as appropriate," he added.

The three Magistrates currently working in the Western Magistrates' Courts will be deployed to other Magistrates' Courts including the Eastern Magistrates' Courts. Supporting staff will also be re-deployed to other Magistrates' Courts or offices of the Judiciary.

The spokesman noted that it is inevitable that the waiting time in the Eastern Magistrates' Courts will be lengthened but the Judiciary will try its best to keep it below three months.

"The merger is part of the Judiciary's efforts in achieving efficiency savings demanded on the whole public sector. However, the quality of justice will be maintained."

"The Judiciary also plans to close down the North Kowloon Magistrates' Courts by the end of 2004 and to merge the Tsuen Wan Magistrates' Courts with the Tuen Mun Magistrates' Courts in 2005. Detailed arrangements have yet to be made," the spokesman added.

Following the closure of the Western Magistrates' Courts and rationalisation of resources, a saving in annual recurrent expenditure of about $5.7 million can be achieved.

The alternative use of the vacated Western Magistrates' Courts is being discussed with the Government.

Ends/Saturday, December 6, 2003


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