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and the rules of natural justice, these inconsistencies should be removed, unless there are strong policy reasons for retaining them.

Part B - Miscellaneous matters

Age of marriage

2.140The Law Reform Commission report on Legal Effects of Age189 recommended that the age at which custody and wardship orders should cease to be made and to have effect should be lowered to 18 years.190  The age at which a child could marry without parental consent should also be lowered from 21 to 18 years.  There was some controversy regarding these aspects of the Commission’s recommendations.  

2.141The Administration proposed instead an amendment to section 18A of the Marriage Ordinance (Cap 181) to provide that where a person whose consent is required under section 14 refuses to give his consent, a District Judge may consent to the marriage and the consent so given shall have the same effect as if it had been given by the person who refused consent or, as if the forbidding of the issue of the certificate had been withdrawn.

2.142Section 14 of the Marriage Ordinance (Cap 181) as amended191 provides for the consent of the parent or guardian when a party to a marriage is under 21.  This provision was recently criticised on the basis that an 18 year old is mature enough to make major decisions, such as whether to enter into marriage.  The author argued that it is illogical to allow an 18 year old to vote but not to marry.192

Medical treatment

2.143The only aspect of medical treatment that this Consultation Paper will deal with is where there is a dispute between parents or guardians as regards the appropriate medical treatment for children who are the subject of custody or access orders.  The Consultation Paper is not concerned with disputes between parents and health or social work agencies.

2.144We have already seen that the Protection of Children and Juveniles Ordinance (Cap 213) gives power to the Director of Social Welfare to take action where a child or juvenile is in need of care and protection.  The relevant grounds under this ground are where the child’s health, development or welfare has been or is being,193 or appears likely to be, neglected or avoidably impaired.194  The court can,

189 Young Persons - Effects of Age in Civil Law, (Topic 11, 1986).

190 Paragraphs 6.3.3. and 16.4.2.

191 This is by sections 28-36 of the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions and Minor Amendments Ordinance (Ord. No 80 of 1997).

192 Ng Man Kin, “Parental Consent”, Hong Kong Lawyer, 18 December 1995 at 18.

193 Section 34(2)(b).

194 Section 34(2)(c).

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