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Fees under the Adoption Rules and Convention Adoption Rules to be revised

     The Government published in the Gazette today (March 20) the Adoption (Amendment) Rules 2015 and the Convention Adoption (Amendment) Rules 2015, both made by the Chief Justice under section 12(1) of the Adoption Ordinance (Cap. 290) to revise fees in payment of the proper costs of the Director of Social Welfare (DSW) for acting as guardian ad litem (GAL) of an infant for the purposes of an adoption application. It is proposed to increase each of the two GAL fee items from $2,840 to $3,170 with effect from June 1, 2015, from $3,170 to $3,550 with effect from June 1, 2016, and from $3,550 to $3,970 with effect from June 1, 2017.

     DSW, as GAL, has to investigate as fully as possible all circumstances relevant to the proposed adoption and make a report to the Court with a view to safeguarding the interests of the infant.  

     In line with the "user pays" principle, it is the Government's policy that fees charged by the Government should in general be set at levels sufficient to recover the full cost of providing the services. On the other hand, it has been the Government's policy that applicants should not be discouraged from adopting children who have lost their parents or whose parents are unwilling to maintain them. Striking a balance between these two policy objectives, the Government seeks to recover 20 per cent of the full proper cost incurred by DSW in the execution of statutory duties under the Adoption Rules (Cap. 290A) or the Convention Adoption Rules (Cap. 290D). The Social Welfare Department recently completed a review of the two GAL fee items. The results show that the cost recovery rate of the two fee items at the prevailing level of $2,840 falls short of the target of 20 per cent of the full cost at 2015-16 price level.  

     "The fee revision proposed is mild and should not be a factor to deter applicants from pursuing their adoption plans," a government spokesperson said.

     The Adoption (Amendment) Rules 2015 and the Convention Adoption (Amendment) Rules 2015 will be tabled at the Legislative Council for negative vetting on March 25, 2015. Subject to approval by negative vetting, the revised fees will come into effect on June 1, 2015, June 1, 2016, and June 1, 2017 respectively.

Ends/Friday, March 20, 2015
Issued at HKT 11:15


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