Hong Kong

court structure



Court hierarchy in Hong Kong before handover (1 July 1997)



1.

Privy Council

2.
Supreme Court = Court of Appeal + High Court

3.
District Courts / Lands Tribunal

4.

Magistrates Court, Coroners Court, Juveniles Court, Labour Tribunal, Small Claims Tribunal


Court hierarchy in Hong Kong post handover (1 July 1997)



1.

Court of Final Appeal

2.
High Court = Court of Appeal + Court of First Instance

3.
District Courts / Lands Tribunal

4.

Magistrates Court, Coroners Court, Juveniles Court, Labour Tribunal, Small Claims Tribunal


The Court of Final Appeal Ordinance (1997) established the Court of Final Appeal. The court consists of the Chief Justice and not less than three permanent judges. The court may invite non-permanent judges to sit; Sir Anthony Mason from Australia and Lord Hoffman from the UK have sat on many occasions. It remains unclear whether the Court of Final Appeal is bound by its own decisions.

The High Court comprises the Court of Appeal and the Court of First Instance:


(a)
The Court of Appeal hears appeals on all matters, civil and criminal, from the Court of First Instance and the District Court, as well as appeals from the Lands Tribunal. It also makes rulings on questions of law referred to it by the lower courts.

(b)
The Court of First Instance has unlimited jurisdiction in both criminal and civil matters. The latter include divorce, admiralty, bankruptcy, company winding-up, adoption, probate and lunacy. The Court of First Instance also hears appeals from Magistracies, the Labour Tribunal, the Small Claims Tribunal and the Obscene Articles Tribunal.

The District Court has limited jurisdiction in both civil and criminal matters. It has civil jurisdiction to hear monetary claims over $50,000, but not more than $1,000,000.

The Magistrates’ Courts exercise a criminal jurisdiction, which covers a wide range of indictable and summary offences.


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