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Someone Owes You Money? How Small Claims Tribunal Might Help

Trying to chase someone who owes you money, damaged your property or did not settle your invoice promptly? Hong Kong Judiciary’s Small Claims Tribunal is a court that could help facilitate settlements.

Background

  • As the name implies, Small Claims Tribunal is the place to go when involved financial dispute is “small” — in this case below HK$50,000.
  • The Tribunal accommodates claims involving debts, service charges, damage to property, sold goods and claims filed by consumers. It does not handle wages (the Labour Department does that), possession of land (the Lands Department has more jurisdiction on that), alimony, libel and slander (there are courts that handle these matters).
  • If your claim exceeds the financial limit of HK$50,000 you are not allowed to divide them into chunks of that maximum amount and file it at Small Claims Tribunal. You, however, can abandon that claim above the maximum amount so you can proceed with a claim at the Small Claims Tribunal.

Should I Proceed or Not?

Before proceeding with the claim at Small Claims Tribunal, think about the possibilities first.

  • Claimant should consider other methods to have the claim settled by the intended defendant. For example, if he or she can pay by installment to ease the burden on his/her part.
  • The Small Claims Tribunal should be the last resort if other means have failed.
  • If Small Claims Tribunal favors your claim and obtain judgment in your favor it does not guarantee you will get your money automatically. If the defendant has ability to pay but refuses to do so, a claimant will need to do further action and incur additional costs to have the ruling enforced.
  • If the defendant is not financially stable — unemployed, bankrupt or company under liquidation — claimant may not get the money.

What to Expect From Tribunal Staff

  • Tribunal staff can only provide assistance on procedural matters such as verification of submitted documents, information on relevant agencies and next steps.
  • Tribunal staff will not give legal advice such as evaluating your chances on winning your claim or tell you whether to proceed with a lawsuit.
  • If you wish to avail of free legal advice, you may approach the Free Legal Advice Scheme of the Duty Lawyer Service at the following District Offices:
    • Shatin District Office,
    • Central and Western District Office,
    • Wan Chai District Office,
    • Tsuen Wan District Office,
    • Kwun Tong District Office,
    • Yau Tsim Mong District Office,
    • Island District Office,
    • Eastern District Office and
    • Wong Tai Sin District Office.

How Much Should I Pay to File a Claim?

Fees may include the filing of claim and summons, certifications, searches, watchman’s fees and other miscellaneous fees.

Filing of claim:
where the claim does not exceed $3000 ……….. HK$20
where the claim exceeds:

$3000 but does not exceed $17000 ……………. HK$40
$17000 but does not exceed $33000 …………… HK$70
$33000 but does not exceed $50000 …………… HK$120

Breakdown of costs can be found at this page.

Other Helpful Resources

Small Claims Tribunal
Address : 4/F, Wanchai Tower, 12 Harbour Road, Hong Kong
Hotline : 2877 4068
Fax : 2587 9139 / 2877 0412

Interactive Voice Recording System of the Small Claims Tribunal
Tel : 2877 4068

Business Registration Office, Inland Revenue Department
Address : 4/F, Revenue Tower, 5 Gloucester Road, Hong Kong
Tel : 1878 088
Fax : 2824 1482
Website : www.ird.gov.hk

Companies Registry
Address : 13/F, Queensway Government Offices, High Block, 66 Queensway, Hong Kong
Tel : 2867 2571
Fax : 2596 0585
Website : www.cr.gov.hk

Duty Lawyer Service
Administration Office address : Room 2707-8, Gloucester Tower, The Landmark, 11 Pedder Street, Central, Hong Kong
Tel : 2526 5969
Fax : 2868 1754
Website : www.dutylawyer.org.hk

Central Telephone Enquiry Centre, Home Affairs Department
Tel : 2835 2500

Bar Association
Address : LG2, High Court Building, 38 Queensway, Hong Kong
Tel : 2869 0210
Fax : 2869 0189
Website : www.hkba.org

Official Receiver’s Office
Address : 10/F, Queensway Government Offices, High Block, 66 Queensway, Hong Kong
Tel : 2867 2448
Fax : 3105 1814
Website : www.oro.gov.hk

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