Following Civil Justice Reform in 2009 courts in Hong Kong have been more proactive in case management and have imposed stricter deadlines for parties to prepare court documents or to set the case down for trial. They are also more intolerant of delays and late discovery and expect parties to cooperate with each other in the conduct of proceedings and identifying issues to be resolved at trial.
Courts also encourage parties to reach a settlement out of court, so a trial is not necessary. Parties now have to have pre-action discussions, and the plaintiff is required to send a pre-action letter to the medical professional. There should be mutual discovery of documents, even at the pre-action stage, and if any party is found to be uncooperative, that party may be penalised by paying the other party’s legal costs.
The plaintiff is also expected to disclose an independent expert report to support the allegations against the medical professional. Failing which, the defendant can apply to court to ask the claim to be struck out. If the plaintiff disclosed an expert report, and the defendant disclosed theirs - the experts would need to meet and discuss in order to try to limit the issues in dispute.