Equal Opportunities Commission


Press Releases

Press Releases

EOC’s Submission to the Review on Adjudication of Equal Opportunities Claims by the District Court


In response to the Review on Adjudication of Equal Opportunities Claims by the District Court, the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) has submitted its comments to the Judiciary.

Many of the changes proposed in the Judiciary’s Consultation Paper are in line with EOC’s recommendations submitted to the Government in March 2009 and refinement of recommendations submitted in September 2011 respectively. The EOC is in agreement with the recommendations in the Judiciary’s Consultation Paper in the following respects :-

Prompt adjudication reduces cost and time
The EOC is in full agreement that anti-discrimination statutes are social legislation with a view to protect civil rights, and that Equal Opportunities Claims (“EO Claims”) should be adjudicated in a speedy manner and costs of litigation should be reduced as much as possible.

Informal forms
The EOC is in full agreement that technical pleadings should be replaced by informal forms. This should make the adjudication procedures more user-friendly, particularly for parties who are not legally trained or represented.

Early intervention by adjudicating body
The EOC is in full agreement that there should be early intervention by the adjudicating body. This should ensure that issues are clarified and proceedings be promptly conducted.

The EOC is in full agreement that the current rule that each party shall bear its own costs but the Court may make adverse costs should be maintained.

Promote mediation
The EOC is in full agreement that mediation should be encouraged in suitable cases.

Litigants in person
The EOC is in full agreement that different measures should be considered and put in place to assist litigants in person.

Apart from the above consensus, the EOC maintains that it is best for the above-mentioned changes to take place under a new framework of a separate Equal Opportunities Tribunal.

Mr. LAM Woon-kwong, Chairperson of the EOC, said, “A tribunal with a separate identity could be more effective in leading to a shift in public attitude against discriminatory behavior and value changes. A separate tribunal will also be an indication of the importance the community places on equal opportunities issues.”

“Despite the positive effects of the Civil Justice Reform, legal proceedings remain formal and technical, and may still be regarded as daunting for ordinary people. The idea of a specialized tribunal is to provide for an informal adjudication system so that aggrieved persons would not be deterred by the formality of court proceedings,” Mr. LAM elaborated.

The EOC supports the idea of giving the specialized Tribunal inquisitorial functions to duly investigate and enquire into relevant matters for effective dispensation of justice, as suggested by some stakeholders.

The EOC is also in agreement that legal representation should be permissible in EO claims as these claims may involve complicated factual and legal arguments, and legal representation is usually conducive to the effective conduct of a case. Active involvement by the adjudicating body should keep costs down and redress any imbalance which may result from permitting legal representation.

Mr. LAM requested the Government to give due consideration to the factors in favour of a new framework of a separate Tribunal as outlined in the EOC’s submission.


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Equal Opportunities Commission
28 October 2011