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Can I apply for Legal Aid for my medical negligence claim?
If you cannot afford to hire/consult a solicitor, then you can consider applying to the Legal Aid Department for legal aid. The Legal Aid Department provides legal representation to eligible applicants by providing them with a solicitor and, if necessary, a barrister in civil or criminal proceedings.
Legal aid will be granted subject to a test of your means (financial eligibility) and the merits of your case (whether or not you have substantial grounds for legal action).
Supplementary Legal Aid Scheme
The Legal Aid Scheme provides legal representation for the “sandwich class” whose financial resources are above the upper eligibility limit for the Ordinary Legal Aid Scheme (i.e. $290,380) but do not exceed $1,451,900.
The applicant must pay an initial application fee of $1,000, plus an interim contribution of $72,595 upon their acceptance of legal aid. If your case is successful, you have to pay the Director of Legal Aid any expenses and costs incurred in the case that are not recovered from the opposite party out of the damages/compensation that is awarded to you by the court. In addition, you will have to pay 10 per cent of the damages you receive into the Supplementary Legal Aid Fund.
For more information, please see the Legal Aid topic in the CLIC website.
Law Society Free Legal Helpline
The Law Society Free Legal Helpline provides assistance to members of the general public who have suffered personal injuries in accidents and need help to make a claim for compensation. This Helpline was established in May 2013. A Panel of solicitors will provide telephone consultation to accident victims for up to 45 minutes free of charge.
You can call the Helpline yourself (telephone no: 8200 8002), or a relative or a friend (who must be aged 18 or over) can make enquiries on your behalf.
The helpline operates from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday to Friday. A voice mail service is active after business hours and during public holidays.
Do not engage recovery agents to handle your claims
Recovery agents are neither professionally qualified nor subject to any code of professional conduct. A recovery agent will finance a claim by paying the legal fees and other disbursements, and then if the claim is successful the accident victim has to hand over over a large share of his compensation to the recovery agent.
Maintenance (of which champerty is a more serious form) remains a criminal offence in Hong Kong and therefore recovery agents are liable to be prosecuted. Accident victims relying on recovery agents are likely to jeopardize their chance of getting the best possible redress. Accident victims should approach solicitors or the Legal Aid Department directly.