Arrangement for Mutual Service of Judicial Documents in Civil and Commercial Cases between the HKSAR and Macao SAR

15 September 2020, Litigation & Dispute Resolution, Newsletter by Joseph Kwan, Matthew Tam

An official channel has been established between Hong Kong and Macao, with effect from 1 August 2020, whereby the Courts of Hong Kong and Macao may entrust each other with the service of judicial documents in civil and commercial proceedings. The Rules of High Court and Rules of District Court have been amended to give effect to the Arrangement.

The key provisions to note in relation to the Arrangement include:

1. 

Scope of civil and commercial cases: The Arrangement applies to civil and commercial cases, including claims within the jurisdiction of the Labour Tribunal in Hong Kong and civil labour cases in Macao.

2. 

Type of judicial documents (Hong Kong): For Hong Kong, judicial documents that may be served in Macao under the Arrangement include, but are not limited to, duplicate copies of originating process and notice of appeal, summons, pleading, affidavit, judgment, decision, ruling, notice, court order and certificate of service. 

3. 

Type of judicial documents (Macao): For Macao, judicial documents that may be served in Hong Kong under the Arrangement include, but are not limited to, duplicate copies of originating process, answer, counterclaim and notice of motion of appeal, statement, defence, declaration of objections, statement of objections, application, withdrawal of action, admission of claim, settlement, inventory of property, list of property, proposal for settlement, creditor agreement, summons, notice, judge’s instructions, court order, court’s leave, judgment, ruling of full bench and certificate of service.

4. 

Authorities handling requests: In Hong Kong, requests for service are made to the High Court and executed by the Court of First Instance. In Macao, such requests are made to Macau’s Court of Final Appeal.

5. 

Letter of request:When requesting service, the requesting party must produce a letter of request in Chinese affixed with its official seal and setting out (i) the title of the requesting party, (ii) the name or title and detailed address of the party to be served; (iii) the nature of the case involved, (iv) the types of judicial documents attached to it and (v) any particular method of service required or matters requiring special attention. If the judicial documents attached are not in Chinese, they must be accompanied by a Chinese translation.

6. 

Method of service: The court of the requested party will receive and effect service in accordance with the law of its jurisdiction, and may carry out the particular method of service required by the requesting party, provided that it is not considered to be in breach of the law of the jurisdiction of the requested party.

7. 

Timely execution and certificate of service:The court of the requested party must endeavour to complete the requested matter within two months from the date of receipt of the letter of request. After effecting service, it must issue a certificate of service affixed with its official seal specifying the method, place and date of service, and identity of the person who accepted service. If service cannot be effected, the reason for non-service or reason and date of refusal (if applicable) must be stated.

8. 

Immunity from liability over contents: The requested party will have no legal responsibility for the contents of, and any consequences arising from, the judicial documents requested to be served.

9. 

Expenses of service: The requesting party is not required to pay for the expenses of service incurred by the requested party, except expenses for the particular method of service required in the letter of request.

1.      

Prior to the Arrangement, litigants in Hong Kong wishing to serve judicial documents in Macao had to arrange service through private channels, for example, by engaging lawyers in Macao to effect service. This was considered unsatisfactory, as such service could be subject to legal challenge before the court. The Arrangement is welcomed, as it should provide a much more certain and efficient mode of service of judicial documents between Hong Kong and Macao.