At present, the Supplementary Legal Aid Scheme (“SLAS”) covers:
• claims involving personal injuries, death or medical, dental and legal professional negligence, where damages exceed or are likely to exceed HK$60,000;
• claims brought under the Employees’ Compensation Ordinance irrespective of the amount of the claim;
• representation for employees in appeals against awards made by the Labour Tribunal irrespective of the amount in dispute;
• professional negligence claims against certified public accountants (practising), registered architects, registered professional engineers, registered professional surveyors, registered professional planners, authorised land surveyors, registered landscape architects and estate agents, where the claim is likely to exceed HK$60,000;
• negligence claims against insurers or their intermediaries in respect of the taking out of personal insurance products, where the claim is likely to exceed HK$60,000; and
• monetary claims against vendors in the sale of completed or uncompleted first-hand residential properties, where the claim is likely to exceed HK$60,000.
In July 2015, the Working Group on Expansion of SLAS (“Working Group”) under the Legal Aid Services Council prepared a preliminary proposal to expand the SLAS (“Preliminary Proposal”). The Preliminary Proposal lists out those recommendations on the 10 types of cases that have been considered by the Working Group for inclusion in the SLAS.
In summary, the Working Group supports further expansion of SLAS on an incremental basis. The following three types of cases (where the claim is likely to exceed HK$60,000) are recommended to be included in the SLAS:
• claims against incorporated owners of a multi-storey building;
• claims against independent financial consultants registered under the Securities and Futures Commission and required to have insurance cover; and
• claims in derivatives of securities, currency of futures or other futures when fraud, misrepresentation or deception was involved at the time of purchase.
The Law Society has reviewed the Preliminary Proposal and has prepared a written submission. It supported the proposals on the expansion and asked to expedite any further review and the related legislative process. The full submission is available at http://www.hklawsoc.org.hk/pub_e/news/submissions/20151125.pdf.