District Court (Hong Kong)

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District Court
Established 1997
Location 12 Harbour Road, Wan Chai, Victoria, Hong Kong Island
 Hong Kong
Coordinates 22°16′48.02″N 114°10′20.48″E / 22.2800056°N 114.1723556°E / 22.2800056; 114.1723556Coordinates: 22°16′48.02″N 114°10′20.48″E / 22.2800056°N 114.1723556°E / 22.2800056; 114.1723556
Authorized by Hong Kong Basic Law
Decisions are appealed to Court of Appeal
Website http://www.judiciary.gov.hk/en/index/index.htm
Chief District Judge
Currently His Honour Judge Li

The District Court (Chinese: 區域法院; 地方法院 before 1997) is the lower court system in Hong Kong, having both criminal and civil jurisdictions. It is located in the Wanchai Law Courts, Wanchai Tower, 12 Harbour Road. In the past there were six district courts, namely Victoria, Kowloon, Fanling, Tsuen Wan, Tuen Mun and Sha Tin, before being amalgamated and moved to the same location in March 1991.

Civil jurisdiction[edit]

The District Court has limited civil jurisdiction. For a contract, quasi-contract or tort claim to be handled by the District Court, it should be for an amount over $50,000 but not more than $1 million. If the claim is more than $1 million, the claim can still be pursued in the District Court provided that the excess is abandoned. If the claim is $50,000 or less, a winning plaintiff may be hit with adverse cost orders due to pursuing its claim in the wrong court.

Even if a claim does not exceed $1 million, provided that the defendant counterclaims for over $1 million, the claim and the counterclaim or just the counterclaim may be transferred to the Court of First Instance. For good reasons, the District Court may continue to handle the claim when the counterclaim exceeds $1 million, but a report has to be made to the High Court and the High Court may transfer the case.

As to claims for possession of land, the District Court can deal with buildings or premises the annual rent or rateable value or the annual value of which does not exceed $240,000.

If a claimant invokes the District Court's equity jurisdiction, the above limits are equally applicable, except that in proceedings related to land, the maximum value shall not exceed $3 million.

Distraint claims are handled by the District Court.

Criminal jurisdiction[edit]

The system is modelled after the English legal system, with indictable offences being taken up by the District Court if they are transferred from the magistrate's court. A District Court Judge sits alone without a jury.

The District Court hears all serious cases except murder, manslaughter and rape, and can impose a sentence of up to seven years. Cases are heard in either the Cantonese or English languages.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]