In 2005, the Law Reform Commission of Hong Kong (“LRC”) published a consultation paper on Hearsay in Criminal Proceedings examining the current law in Hong Kong on hearsay evidence in criminal proceedings and setting out various proposals for reform of the law. Having considered the responses received in the consultation, the LRC published an LRC Report in November 2009 recommending a reform of the hearsay rule in criminal proceedings. The proposed model of reform was made up of a Core Scheme and a series of proposals on special topics.

Taking into account the LRC’s views and recommendations, the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) in June 2018 introduced the Evidence Amendment Bill 2018 (the “Bill”) to the Legislative Council to implement most of the LRC’s recommendations.

The Law Society has studied the Bill. In essence, notwithstanding the various explanations by the DOJ, we have reservations on the latest legislative proposals. Among other things, we do not consider that the necessary safeguards for the accused, as canvassed by the LRC in relation to the admission of hearsay evidence, have adequately been reflected in the Bill. Those concerns we have raised in the previous submissions are reiterated.

The above observations, together with our comments on the committee stage amendments moved by the DOJ, are set out in a detailed submission: