Hong Kong Enacts Apology Legislation

Complex Litigation & Dispute Resolution Alert | July.17.2017

New ordinance encourages the making of apologies to prevent the escalation of disputes

On 13 July 2017 the Hong Kong Legislative Council passed the Apology Ordinance. This decrees that an out-of-court expression of a person’s regret, sympathy or benevolence, including a statement that he is sorry about a particular matter, will not constitute an admission of fault or liability, or be generally admissible in civil proceedings taking place in Hong Kong before a court or arbitral tribunal, and in certain other proceedings, as evidence of fault, liability or any other issue.

In addition, such an apology, which can be made orally or in writing, or even by conduct, will not invalidate cover under an insurance policy or indemnity.

The Ordinance, which is the first of its kind to be passed in Asia, tries to allay the concern that saying sorry may have adverse legal implications. It is likely to be applicable in a number of contexts, most obviously in medical, pharmaceutical and other mass torts cases, sexual and other forms of discrimination, and even in professional negligence and other commercial disputes.

It will come into force following the launch of education and publicity activities.