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Pilot Mediation Scheme and Outreach Support Service for Elderly Owners launched (with photos/video)

     The Development Bureau (DEVB) today (January 27) officially launched the Pilot Mediation Scheme and the Pilot Scheme on Outreach Support Service for Elderly Owners to provide support for owners of old buildings who are faced with private redevelopment.

     The Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, signed the service agreements for the above pilot schemes today with the Chairman of the Joint Mediation Helpline Office Limited, Mr Chan Bing-woon, and the Honorary Treasurer cum Convener, Service Development Sub-Committee of the Senior Citizen Home Safety Association, Dr Law Chi-kwong.

     Mrs Lam said at the signing ceremony that the Development Bureau attached much importance to providing administrative support to building owners before the commencement of legal proceedings under the Land (Compulsory Sale for Redevelopment) Ordinance.

     "The Pilot Mediation Scheme launched today can facilitate parties involved in or contemplating compulsory sale applications under the Ordinance to undertake mediation on a voluntary basis.  The Scheme is financially supported by the Government, including setup and operating costs, as well as financial assistance for eligible elderly owners to cover the fees of mediators," Mrs Lam said.

     The Joint Mediation Helpline Office Limited (JMHOL) is jointly founded by the Hong Kong Mediation Council, the Hong Kong Bar Association, the Law Society of Hong Kong, the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (East Asia Branch), the Hong Kong Institute of Arbitrators, the Hong Kong Institute of Architects, the Hong Kong Institute of Surveyors and the Hong Kong Mediation Centre.  In order to help owners of old buildings participating in the Pilot Mediation Scheme to enter into dialogue and negotiate in an effective way, the JMHOL will provide professional mediation services for the owners with a view to reaching agreement on a neutral platform hosted by professional mediators.

     The President of the Lands Tribunal will shortly promulgate a direction pursuant to section 10(5)(a) of the Lands Tribunal Ordinance to direct that with effect from February 15, the Lands Tribunal will take into account whether the parties have engaged in mediation when hearing applications for compulsory sale and in exercising its discretion on costs under the Ordinance.

     To provide further assistance to the elderly owners of old buildings, the Development Bureau has also commissioned the Senior Citizen Home Safety Association (SCHSA) to launch the Pilot Scheme on Outreach Support Service for Elderly Owners.

     Since elderly owners may have difficulties in accessing all the relevant information, SCHSA social workers will proactively explain to them the general practice of property acquisition and the process of compulsory sale under the Ordinance.  In order to provide tailor-made outreach support services to them, the social workers will also follow up with elderly owners who need further assistance, including checking for them free-of-charge whether their properties fall within one of the specified classes of lot to which the 80% compulsory sale application threshold applies. The social workers will also refer the elderly owners to professionals such as surveyors for advice if they wish.

     SCHSA, with profound experience in providing services to the elderly, has been providing the Personal Emergency Link Service for many years and has worked closely with district elderly community centres or elderly day care centres.

     To step up publicity and public education, the Development Bureau has also launched a public education video to introduce the Ordinance.  The video explains in a user-friendly manner the process of property acquisition and compulsory sale, enabling the owners of old buildings to learn more about their rights as well as the support and assistance available to them.  The video will be shown in the 10 Property Management Advisory Centres of the Hong Kong Housing Society and neighbourhood centres of the Urban Renewal Authority.  DVDs of the video will also be sent to the owners' corporations of old buildings in Hong Kong.

     The Pilot Mediation Scheme and the Pilot Scheme on Outreach Support Service for Elderly Owners will be implemented for a year.  The Government will review the effectiveness of the schemes before the end of trial period.

     For information about the Pilot Mediation Scheme, please call the enquiry hotline at 8103 3833 or send email to or visit the website: .  For information about the Pilot Scheme on Outreach Support Service for Elderly Owners, please call SCHSA's hotline at 2345 5265 or send email to or visit the website: .  The public can also visit DEVB's website for hyperlink to these websites.

     The Land (Compulsory Sale for Redevelopment)(Specification of Lower Percentage) Notice came into effect on April 1, 2010.  During the scrutiny of the Notice by the Legislative Council, the Government was requested to consider introducing a mediation mechanism.

Ends/Thursday, January 27, 2011
Issued at HKT 16:48


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