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THE LAW REFORM COMMISSION OF HONG KONG - page 338 / 360

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Policy co-ordination

15.81We recommend that a single policy bureau should take over responsibility for creating and implementing policy for families and children and, in particular, all the matrimonial and children’s ordinances.  It is a matter for the Administration to decide whether it should be the Health and Welfare Bureau or the Home Affairs Bureau. (Paragraph 6.182)

Part G - The family dispute resolution process

Delay

15.82To promote the best interests of the child, priority must be given to the hearing of disputes concerning children, that is, residence, contact, specific issues, prohibited steps, child abduction, wardship and guardianship.  We recommend that, in the interim before legislation is enacted, target times be set for the disposal of custody, access and guardianship disputes.  We recommend a statutory provision on the lines of sections 1(2) and 11 of the Children Act 1989.1387 (Paragraph 12.6)

Social welfare officer’s report

15.83We recommend that more resources need to be put into the Child Custody Services Unit of the Social Welfare Department to minimise delays in investigating and preparing reports for the Family Court.  We also recommend a performance pledge that a report of the social welfare officer should be completed as expeditiously as possible, but should in any case not take longer than six weeks. (Paragraph 12.10)

15.84The sub-committee recommend that social welfare officers preparing reports for the Family Court should have a minimum of 3 years’ experience in family and child care work, and their training should include the preparation of court reports. (Paragraph 12.11)

Independent experts

15.85We recommend that the court have the power to order a report from an independent expert, such as a psychologist, psychiatrist, paediatrician, registered social worker or other relevant expert. (Paragraph 12.14)

Statistics and research

1387 See Annex 1 infra.

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