Skip to main content

2. Situations Where Spent Convictions Must be Disclosed

There are many situations in the RHO where convictions must be disclosed even though they are spent. In these situations, there is no protection from disclosure of the criminal record. These situations relate to particularly sensitive areas or where the public interest justifies the requirement to disclose all convictions even if they are spent.


Under s. 4 of the RHO, all previous convictions, including spent convictions, must be disclosed when an application is made for employment as a police officer, a correctional services officer, a fire services officer, a barrister, a solicitor or an accountant. All previous convictions, including spent convictions, must be disclosed in disciplinary proceedings against a person practising as a barrister, a solicitor or an accountant, and in disciplinary proceedings against persons holding the prescribed offices set out in the Schedule to the RHO, such as a police officer, a correctional services officer or certain high ranking government employees.


Similarly under s. 4 of the RHO, all previous convictions must be disclosed by anyone applying to become a trustee or controller for a  Mandatory Provident Fund, a bank controller, a judicial officer or a probation officer; an employee of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Authority, or Office of the Commissioner of Insurance and Securities and Futures; or Government officials who are paid on any Directorate or Directorate Pay Scale, or those above point 27 on the Master Pay Scale.


In all of the above cases, the overwhelming public interest in ensuring that only suitable people are appointed to those positions justifies full disclosure of any criminal convictions. The requirement to disclose does not automatically mean the application for employment will be rejected. Full disclosure is required so that the applicant’s suitability for the position applied for can be properly assessed.


Failure to disclose will justify termination of employment and possibly amount to the criminal offence of obtaining pecuniary advantage by deception, contrary to s. 18 of the Theft Ordinance (Cap. 210). Failure to disclose convictions which should be disclosed could lead to obtaining employment or a position which would not otherwise have been obtained. The pecuniary advantage gained by the failure to disclose is the opportunity to earn remuneration in that employment or position.