The EOC is not itself a court or a tribunal. It does not have the power to decide on claims of discrimination, harassment or vilification. In Hong Kong, legal proceedings under the four Ordinances for claims of discrimination, harassment or vilification are heard in the District Court.
If a case is not conciliated, and you are considering issuing legal proceedings, you may apply to the EOC for assistance. The EOC lawyer will prepare a report on your case making a recommendation to the EOC Legal and Complaints Committee, which has been delegated the power to decide which cases should be granted assistance. Factors in deciding whether or not to grant legal assistance are whether the case raises a question of principle; and whether the case is so complex that it is unreasonable to expect the applicant to deal with the case unaided. Please click below for details.
Assistance offered by the EOC may include giving legal advice about the strengths and weaknesses of the case, arranging for EOC lawyers to act as legal representatives, and arranging for either EOC lawyers or external lawyers to appear on your behalf in court if legal proceedings are commenced.
External lawyers will be selected for engagement based on relevant factors including the following:-
Expertise in the relevant legal issues or forensic skills required in the case;
Familiarity with discrimination law and the EOC's procedures, practices and strategic concerns;
Availability of time to give advice or conduct the case;
Level of court where the case is heard.
If the EOC is unable to grant you assistance, you may still apply to the Legal Aid Department for legal aid or bring legal proceedings yourself.