Use of the Chinese language increasing in HK courts

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 April, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 14 April, 2005, 12:00am

Updated at 7.00pm:
More Hong Kong criminal court proceedings were being conducted in Chinese - not English, Director of Public Prosecutions Grenville Cross said on Thursday.

At a media session to release the Yearly Review of the Prosecutions Division 2004, Mr Cross said more efforts were made last year to expand the use of the Chinese language in courts.

Traditionally, Hong Kong which inherited its legal system from the British, had conducted court cases in English.

Mr Cross explained: 'Throughout 2004, we promoted the use of the Chinese language in criminal proceedings.'

He said that of 111 government counsels in the territory, 90 were bilingual in 2004, while all 104 of Hong Kong's court prosecutors were proficient in Chinese and English.

'We sent prosecutors to Zhongshan University for specialist training to develop their capacity to make legal submissions to courts in Chinese,'' the DPP explained.

'We organised six Chinese language workshops to develop the capacity of bilingual prosecutors to conduct cases in Chinese,' added Mr Cross.

He said the Glossary of Legal Terms for Criminal Proceedings - which was introduced in 1998 - now contains 1,500 new terms.

'Our Bilingual Court Documents Unit translated 7,066 English documents into Chinese, and 136 Chinese documents into English,' he explained.

Mr Cross also noted that there were 232,081 new prosecutions in the courts last year - compared with 210,055 in 2003.

In 2004, 16,034 advisements were given in criminal cases - compared with 16,820 advisements in 2003.

Government counsel attended 1,276 court days in the Court of First Instance in 2004. This compared with 1,399 court days in 2003.

In the District Court, the figures for 2004 and 2003 were 965 and 1,130 court days, respectively.

In the Magistrates Courts, the figures for 2004 and 2003 were, respectively, 416 and 824 court days.

Court prosecutors prosecuted a total of 192,163 cases in 2004 in the Magistrates Courts, involving 13,743 court days. That compared with 183,866 cases in 2003, involving 13,851 court days.