District Court (Hong Kong)
The District Court
District court
District courts are a category of courts which exists in several nations. These include:-Australia:District Court is the name given to the intermediate court in most Australian States. They hear indictable criminal offences excluding treason, murder and, in some States, manslaughter...

(Chinese: 區域法院, 地方法院 before 1997) is the lower court system in Hong Kong
Hong Kong
Hong Kong is one of two Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China , the other being Macau. A city-state situated on China's south coast and enclosed by the Pearl River Delta and South China Sea, it is renowned for its expansive skyline and deep natural harbour...

, having both criminal
Criminal law
Criminal law, is the body of law that relates to crime. It might be defined as the body of rules that defines conduct that is not allowed because it is held to threaten, harm or endanger the safety and welfare of people, and that sets out the punishment to be imposed on people who do not obey...

 and civil
Civil law (common law)
Civil law, as opposed to criminal law, is the branch of law dealing with disputes between individuals or organizations, in which compensation may be awarded to the victim...

 jurisdictions. It is located in the Wanchai Law Courts, Wanchai Tower, 12 Harbour Road. In the past there were six district courts, namely Victoria
Former French Mission Building
The Former French Mission Building is a declared monument of Hong Kong. It is located at 1, Battery Path, Central. It currently houses the Court of Final Appeal of Hong Kong.-Features:...

, Kowloon
Old South Kowloon District Court
The Old South Kowloon District Court is a historic building and former Magistrate's Court in Hong Kong, located at No. 38 Gascoigne Road, Yau Ma Tei, Kowloon.-History:...

, Fanling, Tsuen Wan, Tuen Mun and Sha Tin, before being amalgamated and moved to the same location in March 1991.

Civil Jurisdiction

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
Jurisdiction is the practical authority granted to a formally constituted legal body or to a political leader to deal with and make pronouncements on legal matters and, by implication, to administer justice within a defined area of responsibility...

, the above limits are equally applicable, except that in proceedings related to land, the maximum value shall not exceed $3 million.

Distraint or distress is "the seizure of someone’s property in order to obtain payment of rent or other money owed", especially in common law countries...

 claims are handled by the District Court.

Criminal Jurisdiction

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
Magistrates' Court
A magistrates' court or court of petty sessions, formerly known as a police court, is the lowest level of court in England and Wales and many other common law jurisdictions...

. 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 Chinese
Chinese language
The Chinese language is a language or language family consisting of varieties which are mutually intelligible to varying degrees. Originally the indigenous languages spoken by the Han Chinese in China, it forms one of the branches of Sino-Tibetan family of languages...

 or English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

languages, at the sole discretion of the trial judge.

External links

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