The following is issued on behalf of the Judiciary:
The two-year Pilot Scheme for the Reform of Ancillary Relief Procedures in Matrimonial Proceedings ("Pilot Scheme") will commence on Monday (December 29).
All claims for ancillary relief (except claims for nominal maintenance, i.e. $1 per annum) contained in petitions or joint applications filed on or after December 29 are subject to the Pilot Scheme.
Under the Pilot Scheme, a new set of ancillary relief procedures, which is divided into three phases, will be used. Each phase will conclude with a "milestone" court hearing. The parties are required to provide a statement of costs incurred to date before each "milestone" hearing.
The Pilot Scheme aims to encourage the parties to reach settlement and to reduce unnecessary costs, delay and personal distress for them.
It is also hoped that, with the parties being aware of the legal costs incurred at every stage of the proceedings, the Pilot Scheme will help curb exhaustive and unnecessary disclosure of financial information.
The Judiciary has published a pamphlet to introduce details of the Pilot Scheme. Copies of the pamphlet are now available at various court registries. Its content has also been uploaded onto the Judiciary's website http://www.judiciary.gov.hk/en/publications/mat_proceedings.pdf.
The existing ancillary relief procedures in matrimonial proceedings have been in place for 30 years. In 1999, the Chief Justice appointed a Working Group to consider the reform of these procedures. The Working Group recommended in 2002 the introduction of a new set of procedures to be tested by a two-year pilot scheme. The recommendation was accepted by the Chief Justice.
The Working Group has since transformed itself into a Steering Committee. Chaired by the Hon Mr Justice Hartmann, the Steering Committee will oversee the implementation of the Pilot Scheme, evaluate its effectiveness, and make recommendation on the best way forward towards the end of the Pilot Scheme.
Ends/Saturday, December 27, 2003