The Law Society responded to the public consultation on the Government Budget 2020-21 and made a submission thereon. The submission, which was based on views canvassed from various specialist committees, set out the following.
(a) the continual importance of legal aid, the deliberation of which embraced
- further and continual discussions with the Government regarding issues previously identified, i.e. financial eligibility limits; further expansion of the supplementary legal aid scheme; payment of costs to assigned solicitors and barristers; and a community legal assistance scheme
- more realistic adjustments to the criminal legal aid fees
- adequate funding for legal aid (especially for criminal legal aid) in order to meet demands for legal assistance arising from the large number of arrests made in recent protests and demonstrations
(b) a substantive reform of the insurance law regime;
(c) the Law Society’s previous proposal on a Mediation Pilot Scheme for disputes relating to the recent civil unrest in Hong Kong;
(d) an overhaul of the mental health regime, noting that the Mental Health Ordinance (Cap. 136) was enacted in 1960 but it did not have any significant update in the past 50 years; and
(e) a revisitation of stamp duties on residential property transactions in Hong Kong, including the Special Stamp Duty, the Ad Valorem Stamp Duties and the Buyers Stamp Duty.
The above submission (as approved by Council) was sent to the Office of the Financial Secretary on 18 February. A copy of the submission can be found on the Law Society's website: http://www.hklawsoc.org.hk/pub_e/news/submissions/20200219.pdf