The following is issued on behalf of the Judiciary:
The Judiciary has set up the Resource Centre for Unrepresented Litigants ("Resource Centre") in an effort to meet the challenges brought by the increasing number of unrepresented litigants in civil cases in recent years, which has been creating a great demand on judicial time and resources, the Hon Chief Justice Andrew Kwok-nang Li said today (December 18).
In his opening remarks at a media session to introduce the facilities and services of the Resource Centre, the Chief Justice said the Resource Centre will offer assistance to unrepresented litigants in civil cases of the High Court and the District Court by helping them to better understand court rules and procedural matters in civil proceedings in these two courts.
The Resource Centre will commence operation from next Monday (December 22).
"The setting up of the Resource Centre is not to encourage people to litigate in person, nor to duplicate or compete with existing services," the Chief Justice stressed.
"Moreover, the Resource Centre will not provide legal advice to users as it is of prime importance for the Judiciary to maintain fairness, neutrality and impartiality in adjudicating disputes," he added.
The Chief Justice appointed a steering committee to advise on the establishment and operation of the Resource Centre in 2002.
Chaired by the Hon Madam Justice Chu, Judge of the Court of First Instance of the High Court, the Steering Committee on Resource Centre for Unrepresented Litigants ("Steering Committee") comprises judges as well as representatives from the legal profession and interested non-governmental organisations.
The Chief Justice accepted the recommendations in the report submitted by the Steering Committee to him earlier. The report, which has also been released today, is available for public access on the Judiciary website - http://rcul.judiciary.gov.hk/rc/eng/screport/RC Report.pdf.
After the opening of the Resource Centre, staff there will provide general enquiry services on court rules, forms, services and procedural matters in civil proceedings in the High Court and the District Court. Various pamphlets outlining the court procedures are freely available at the Resource Centre. The procedures are also explained in videos which can be viewed at the Resource Centre.
Samples of court forms are available for reference in the Resource Centre and some of the forms can also be obtained there.
Other useful facilities at the Resource Centre include four computer terminals through which unrepresented litigants can access information on court procedures, services and facilities. The Resource Centre also provides a pay-as-you-go self-operated photocopying machine to help them handle any necessary paperwork.
The Resource Centre is located in Room LG105, Lower Ground First Floor of the High Court Building, 38 Queensway, Hong Kong. It will be open from 9 am to 1 pm and from 2 pm to 5.30 pm from Monday to Friday, and from 9 am to noon on Saturday.
Ends/Thursday, December 18, 2003