LCQ16: Complaint cases of disability discrimination received by Equal Opportunities Commission

     Following is a written reply by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, to a question by the Hon Lau Kong-wah in the Legislative Council today (November 18):


     Will the Government inform this Council whether it knows:

(a) the number of complaint cases involving contravention of the Disability Discrimination Ordinance (Cap 487) received by the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) in the past three years and, among such cases, the respective numbers of those cases the investigation of which had and had not been completed;

(b) among the cases in (a), the number of those requiring further actions after investigation by EOC, including conciliation for the parties concerned or assisting the complainants to file civil suits in court; the number of cases for which EOC decided not to conduct or to discontinue investigation because the complaints were lacking in substance or vexatious, did not involve unlawful act, or a period of more than 12 months had lapsed beginning when the act was done; and the final outcome of those cases which required intervention by EOC in the form of conciliation or bringing to court for litigation; and

(c) given that cases requiring further actions after investigation by EOC have to be dealt with in the first instance by means of the conciliation process, what arrangements EOC will make for cases in which the accused persons refuse to attend the conciliation conferences; focusing on cases in which the accused persons have not provided a defence in respect of the allegations against them because they have not participated in the conciliation process, how EOC ensures that these persons will receive fair and just treatment when it decides to provide legal assistance to the complainants?


(a) Between 2007 and October 2009, the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) received 1,299 complaint cases made under the Disability Discrimination Ordinance (DDO).  Taking into account the outstanding cases brought forward from 2006, the EOC handled a total of 1,434 complaint cases in the period.  Of these, 1,263 cases were concluded and 171 cases are still in progress.

(b) Among the 1,263 concluded cases during the period from 2007 to October 2009, the EOC had conducted conciliation for the parties involved in 447 cases, of which 306 cases had been successfully conciliated with agreement reached.

     If settlement cannot be reached by way of conciliation, the complainant can apply for legal assistance from the EOC or bring the civil proceedings in court on his/her own.  During the above-mentioned period, the EOC received 74 applications for legal assistance in respect of DDO.

     Amongst the cases where legal assistance was provided by the EOC during the period, seven cases were settled before court action.  The EOC also filed writs in 12 cases, while 11 cases were settled after the issuance of writs and two cases were ended after court trials.  

     Furthermore, the EOC decided to discontinue investigation, or not to conduct investigation, in 816 complaint cases.  Among these cases, 457 cases were lacking in substance or vexatious, 60 cases involved no unlawful acts, 19 cases were beyond the 12-month legal time bar and without reasonable justification for the delay, and 280 cases were closed given that the complainants had no desire to pursue further, withdrawn their cases or lost contact.

(c) Before the EOC decides to grant legal assistance to a complainant, a respondent will be given sufficient opportunities to give a defence.  Upon receipt of a complaint case, the EOC will explore with the complainant and the respondent to see if they would like to settle the dispute through meetings before the commencement of formal investigation.  If there is no chance for a settlement, the EOC will then formally conduct an investigation.  In the course of investigation, both the complainant and the respondent have the opportunities to rebut. The information provided by both parties must be sent to the other party for information and comment.  After the investigation, if a discriminatory act cannot be ruled out, the EOC will recommend to both parties to proceed to conciliation and explain its reasons for making such a proposal.

     Conciliation is to be conducted on a voluntary basis. Conciliation can be conducted in the form of a face-to-face meeting or through shuttling by EOC.  The EOC would endeavour to provide assistance to both parties.  If either the complainant or the respondent refuses to participate in the conciliation, or a settlement agreement cannot be reached by both parties in the process, the EOC will consider the conciliation unsuccessful.  Under such circumstances, the complainant may then apply for legal assistance from the EOC.

Ends/Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Issued at HKT 14:14