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In the UK when submitting an N1 form to take a defendant to small claims court you can make a claim for money, or alternatively for “other remedies”, for example when money isn’t owed but the claimant wishes for the defendant to do something.

Is this possible to do in Hong Kong via their Judiciary?

Is it possible to submit and manage a claim remotely from the United Kingdom? Perhaps online (like the MCOL service in the UK).

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  • I've provided a very general answer, but the notion that "the claimant wishes for the defendant to do something" is very, very vague and makes it hard to answer.
    – ohwilleke
    Oct 4, 2023 at 17:13
  • @ohwilleke One example could be that the claimant wishes for the defendant to hand over something of the claimant’s (E.G. information/paperwork or physical parts of the claimant’s machine) that they hold, and are withholding unduly. Not criminal, like theft, but like in a case where the claimant voluntarily hands over the same to the defendant on certain terms; but later those terms are broken by the claimant. Oct 4, 2023 at 17:46
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    In Hong Kong, the Court of First Instance of the High Court could do that, but no other court could do that. And, that could probably not be done remotely. FWIW, basically the same thing would be true in most U.S. states - only a trial court of general jurisdiction could do that and usually with an in person evidentiary hearing of right for the defendant if requested.
    – ohwilleke
    Oct 4, 2023 at 17:47
  • *broken by the defendant (too late to edit) Oct 4, 2023 at 17:51
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    @Seekinganswers (1) I can locate authoritative primary resources written by people who are part of the Hong Kong court system in English, which is possible because it used to be an English colony, (2) I am familiar with how common law legal systems like this one are structured doctrinally since I am a lawyer in such a system, and (3) I've studied Singapore's legal system at length for a term paper in law school, which has a very similar system of courts and court jurisdictions so I know what I'm looking for and whether what I'm concluding makes sense and is consistent with what I know already.
    – ohwilleke
    Oct 4, 2023 at 23:20

1 Answer 1

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Which Hong Kong courts have authority to grant injunctive relief to private litigants?

The courts of justice in Hong Kong comprise the Court of Final Appeal, the High Court (which includes the Court of Appeal and the Court of First Instance), the District Court (which includes the Family Court), the Competition Tribunal, the Lands Tribunal, the Magistrates' Courts (which include the Juvenile Court), the Coroner's Court, the Labour Tribunal, the Small Claims Tribunal and the Obscene Articles Tribunal.

(Source)

The Court of First Instance division of the High Court in Hong Kong has broad, general authority to grant injunctions (i.e. court orders that a defendant do something). This is what we would call a "trial court of general jurisdiction" in the U.S. even though there are some kinds of cases that are actually carved out from its jurisdiction. It has authority to do anything that a court can do that other courts in Hong Kong cannot do. The Competition Tribunal is for all practical purposes a division of the Court of First Instance in the High Court.

The District Court in Hong Kong is what we would call in the United States a "court of limited jurisdiction" which has only limited authority to grant non-monetary relief. It can enter eviction orders and foreclosure orders. It can enter injunctions and other forms of non-monetary relief incident to divorces and custody cases or the administration of a probate estate or a trust. It can order specific performance of a contract such as a real estate purchase contract. It can reform contracts or declare that a contract based upon fraud or mistake is invalid.

But the District Court in Hong Kong doesn't have general, all purpose injunctive relief authority and the stakes of the case where it can grant injunctive relief are limited to $3 million Hong Kong dollars (worth about 0.13 U.S. dollars, so about $390,000 U.S.D.) in most cases and $7 million Hong Kong dollars (about $910,000 U.S.D.) in real property cases (how this would be measured in an injunctive relief case would be spelled out in case law).

The Lands Tribunal has a mix of High Court and District Court judges on a panel and has certain kinds of specific injunctive relief authority incident to real property transactions that are outside the jurisdiction of the District Court due to the high dollar value involved or the scope of the relief sought, like the power to order specific performance of large dollar amount land contracts, the power to enter orders of eviction and foreclosure, the power to resolve boundary disputes, and the power to enter orders regarding the management of a building.

The Coroner's Court has injunctive relief authority only incident to the disposition of dead bodies and can issue declaratory relief regarding a person's cause of death. It cannot grant monetary relief.

The Obscene Articles Tribunal determines in declaratory judgments if something is obscene and if so, establishes restrictions on its use and distribution. It cannot grant monetary relief. Violations of the restrictions it imposes are criminal offenses which would be prosecuted in a different Hong Kong court.

Unlike England and Wales, the Small Claims Tribunal in Hong Kong's jurisdiction is limited to money claims. It cannot grant non-monetary relief of any kind. Monetary Relief in the Small Claims Tribunal is limited to $75,000 Hong Kong dollars (about $9,750 USD).

The Labour Tribunal is limited to monetary disputes of wages and pay between employers and one individual employee, or for a group of more than 10 employees per case when the dispute for each employee in the group is less than $15,000 Hong Kong dollars per person (about $1,950 USD each). It is basically a small claims court for employer-employee pay disputes. It cannot grant injunctive relief, although it can grant very limited declaratory relief (e.g. regarding whether a pay arrangement complies with minimum wage laws).

The Magistrates' Courts (which include the Juvenile Court) handles only misdemeanor criminal offenses (punishable by up to 2 years in jail and a fine for any given offense) and juvenile delinquency matters. It doesn't handle civil lawsuits. A criminal sentence or pretrial criminal order for a criminal offense could conceivably include an order to go to drug rehab or issue an order directing a defendant to have no contact with someone.

Can claims in these courts be managed remotely?

Is it possible to submit and manage a claim remotely from the United Kingdom? Perhaps online (like the MCOL service in the UK).

Not really.

You could probably submit a claim by having a non-lawyer proxy hired remotely file the papers necessary to commence a lawsuit with the relevant clerk of the court and to serve the defendant with legal process.

But the links above for both the District Court and the High Court indicate that a party's personal appearance at key pre-trial hearings and at trial is required and that the case will be dismissed if the party fails to appear at these court hearings.

A lawyer in Hong Kong retained remotely could do this for you, but only if your personal testimony as a witness was not required to prove your case. And, the other side in the case could probably compel you to appear at an evidentiary hearing (such as a preliminary injunction hearing) or a trial, by subpoena, even if you felt that you could present your own case without your own personal testimony. The defendants might do this even if it is only marginally important for their case, simply in order to make prosecuting your case more burdensome.

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