2. Legal Aid
Medical negligence cases are usually difficult, as they involve medical and legal issues that are beyond the grasp of ordinary citizens. Solicitors are usually engaged to advise on these cases. If you cannot afford to hire/consult a solicitor, then you can consider applying to the Legal Aid Department for legal aid. 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). For more information, please see the Legal Aid topic.
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 is available for cases involving personal injury or death, as well as medical, dental or legal professional negligence. Any person, whether or not ordinarily resident in Hong Kong, who is involved in the circumstances described above: i.e. you have suffered from medical negligence may apply for legal aid. Legal aid will be granted if the applicant is able to satisfy the statutory criteria as to the financial eligibility and the merits for taking or defending the legal proceedings.
The purpose of the "means test" is to assess the financial resources of the applicant. Under the Ordinary Legal Aid Scheme, the upper financial eligibility limit is HK$260,000. Financial resources of an applicant are his/her monthly disposable income multiplied by 12 plus his or her disposable capital.
The main purpose of the "merits test" is to determine whether an applicant has a reasonable claim or defence and whether or not the grant of legal aid to an applicant is justified. Apart from considering the chances of success, the Director may refuse legal aid in cases where he would be unable to enforce a judgment e.g. the opposite party is uninsured and has no valuable assets. The Director will also give due considerationto the importance of the case to the applicant in deciding whether or not to grant legal aid.