The Hong Kong Department of Justice has recently introduced a Mediation Bill, which seeks to establish a legislative framework for conducting mediation and “assist in the promotion of the more extensive and effective use of mediation in Hong Kong.” The Bill will be gazetted on Friday (November 18).
According to the DOJ Press Release, “the Bill aims to promote, encourage and facilitate the resolution of disputes by mediation and to protect the confidentiality of mediation communications.” The Bill was developed following recommendations made by a Working Group on Mediation chaired by the Secretary for Justice. The Working Group published its 48 recommendations in its Report in February 2010 for a three-month public consultation.
According to the Bill, Mediation communication is confidential and must not be disclosed except under specified circumstances. Communication may be disclosed, for example, with the consent of all parties and the mediator or where there are reasonable grounds to believe that the disclosure is necessary to prevent danger of injury to a person or of serious harm to the well being of a child. A person must also apply for leave of the court or tribunal in order to adduce mediation communications in any proceedings. The Bill sets out matters that the court or tribunal must take into account in granting leave for a mediation communication to be disclosed or admitted in evidence.
According to the press release, the Bill also seeks to standardise the terminology and Chinese renditions for “mediation” and “conciliation” used in existing ordinances.
The Bill will be introduced in the Legislative Council on November 30.