Commissions Of Inquiry Ordinance


Published: 1997-06-30

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Cap 86 - COMMISSIONS OF INQUIRY ORDINANCE 1

Chapter: 86 COMMISSIONS OF INQUIRY ORDINANCE Gazette Number Version Date

Long title 30/06/1997


To provide for commissions of inquiry and for purposes connected therewith.


[12 July 1968]

(Originally 28 of 1968)

Section: 1 Short title 30/06/1997


This Ordinance may be cited as the Commissions of Inquiry Ordinance.

Section: 2 Appointment of Commission 25 of 1998 01/07/1997


Remarks:
Adaptation amendments retroactively made - see 25 of 1998 s. 2


(1) The Chief Executive in Council may appoint one or more Commissioners (hereinafter referred to as a
Commission) to inquire into the conduct or management of any public body, the conduct of any public officer or into
any matter whatsoever which is, in his opinion, of public importance. (Amended 25 of 1998 s. 2)

(2) When appointing a Commission under subsection (1) the Chief Executive in Council may- (Amended 25
of 1998 s. 2)

(a) nominate a Chairman if 2 or more Commissioners are appointed, and confer on such Chairman a
second or casting vote for use where the Commission shall, in any case, be equally divided on any
question arising during the proceedings;

(b) fix the quorum at meetings thereof if 2 or more Commissioners are appointed;
(c) appoint a secretary to the Commission, assistant secretaries and other staff;
(d) appoint a legal adviser to the Commission;
(e) appoint additional Commissioners or persons in substitution for Commissioners who may die, resign,

refuse to act, or become incapable of acting.
(3) Where a new Commissioner has been appointed under subsection (2), it shall not be necessary for any

evidence which may have been taken before the Commission prior to such appointment to be retaken.
(4) The appointment of a Commission shall be published in the Gazette.


Section: 3 Directions to Commission 25 of 1998 01/07/1997


Remarks:
Adaptation amendments retroactively made - see 25 of 1998 s. 2


The Chief Executive in Council may specify the subject of the inquiry and may direct- (Amended 25 of 1998 s.
2)

(a) when and where the inquiry is to be held, to whom and by what time a report thereon is to be rendered,
and may from time to time enlarge the time within which such inquiry is to be held and such report
rendered;

(b) without prejudice to the powers of the Commission to receive and consider such other evidence as it
may think fit, what material should be received and considered by the Commission;

(c) what matters should be outside the terms of reference of the Commission;
(d) that the evidence of certain persons or classes of persons be taken, either orally or in writing, and that

certain documents or classes of documents be inspected by the Commission;
(e) without prejudice to the powers conferred upon the Commission by section 4(1)(i), that the holding of

the inquiry or parts thereof be in camera; (Amended 49 of 1976 s. 2)
(f) that the Commissioners take the oath or affirmation in the form set out in the Schedule; and (See Form



Cap 86 - COMMISSIONS OF INQUIRY ORDINANCE 2

1)
(g) that the Commission shall have and exercise the powers conferred by section 9 to punish all or any of

the contempts specified in section 8.

Section: 4 Powers of Commission 25 of 1998 01/07/1997


Remarks:
Adaptation amendments retroactively made - see 25 of 1998 s. 2


(1) The Commission may, for the purpose of complying with the directions issued under section 3 and for
conducting the inquiry generally-

(a) receive and consider any material whether by way of oral evidence, written statements, documents or
otherwise, notwithstanding that such material would not be admissible as evidence in civil or criminal
proceedings;

(b) determine the manner in which such material shall be received and what persons or class of persons
shall be permitted or required to give evidence:

Provided that the contents of any document submitted to the Commission, not being of a
scurrilous or offensive nature, shall be considered by the Commission, notwithstanding that the person
submitting such document is, in addition, permitted or required to give evidence;

(c) require any person who wishes to give evidence before the Commission to submit a summary in
writing of the evidence proposed to be given;

(d) summon any person in the form set out in the Schedule to attend to give evidence or to produce any
article or document; (See Form 2)

(e) issue warrants of arrest to compel the attendance of any person not complying with a summons issued
under paragraph (d);

(f) administer oaths and affirmations;
(g) examine on oath, affirmation or otherwise any person attending before the Commission and require

such person to answer all questions put by or with the consent of the Commission and produce any
article or document in his possession or under his control;

(h) award any person attending before the Commission such sum as in the opinion of the Commission
represents the loss to that person occasioned by the time spent in such attendance;

(i) hold in camera, or exclude any person (including any person implicated or concerned therein and his
legal representatives) from, the whole or any part of the inquiry:

Provided that any legal representative entitled to appear by virtue of the provisions of section 6-
(i) may only be excluded from such part of the inquiry as is held in camera;
(ii) shall not in any event be so excluded while his client is giving evidence;

(j) prohibit the publication to or disclosure by any person attending before the Commission of all or part
of the material received by the Commission;

(k) enter and inspect any premises;
(l) issue warrants for the searching of premises and the seizure therein of any article or document or any

class of articles or documents specified in the warrant (as being likely to be of evidential value for the
purposes of the inquiry);

(m) determine the procedure to be followed at the inquiry and the form of any summons, warrant, or other
document made or issued by the Commission;

(ma) where the Commission has been appointed to inquire into the conduct or management of a public body
or any other body of persons, corporate or unincorporate, then, subject to subsection (3), appoint, on
such terms as to remuneration as the Financial Secretary may approve, one or more inspectors-
(i) to inspect all the books and documents of or relating to the affairs of such body; and
(ii) if the Commission is satisfied that such body has, or has had, an association with any other

public body or body of persons, corporate or unincorporate, which is or may be relevant to the
subject of the Commission's inquiry, to inspect all the books and documents of or relating to the
affairs of such other body,

and to report thereon to the Commission in such manner and within such period or further period as the
Commission may direct; and (Added 49 of 1976 s. 3)

(n) exercise such other powers as may be necessary for the purposes of the inquiry.



Cap 86 - COMMISSIONS OF INQUIRY ORDINANCE 3

(2) Without prejudice to the powers conferred on a Commission by subsection (1)(ma), where the Commission
consists of one Commissioner he may himself, and where the Commission consists of more than one Commissioner
one or more of the Commissioners, selected by the Commission may, subject to subsection (3), inspect the books and
documents referred to in subsection (1)(ma), and in so doing he or they shall, for the purposes of this Ordinance, be
deemed to have been duly appointed an inspector or inspectors, as the case may be, under subsection (1)(ma). (Added
49 of 1976 s. 3)

(3) The power to appoint an inspector or inspectors under subsection (1), and the powers conferred by
subsection (2), shall not be exercised by a Commission or Commissioner without the consent of the Chief Executive in
Council, and in giving such consent the Chief Executive in Council may limit the power of inspection to inspection
only of the books and documents referred to in subsection (1)(ma)(i) or, where consent is given in relation to the
inspection of books and documents referred to in subsection (1)(ma)(ii), may limit the power of inspection to
inspection only of the books and documents of or relating to the affairs of a particular public body or other body of
persons, corporate or unincorporate. (Added 49 of 1976 s. 3. Amended 25 of 1998 s. 2)

Section: 5 Conduct of inquiry 30/06/1997


Without derogating from the generality of the power conferred under section 4(1)(m) the Commission may-
(Amended 49 of 1976 s. 4)

(a) order the manner in which any person shall give his oral evidence and may specify that this shall be by
way of cross-examination without any examination-in-chief, and

(b) determine who may address the Commission, on what matters and in what order.

Section: 6 Right to representation L.N. 362 of 1997;

25 of 1998
01/07/1997



Remarks:
Adaptation amendments retroactively made - see 25 of 1998 s. 2


(1) Any person whose conduct is the subject of an inquiry, or who is implicated or concerned in the subject
matter of the inquiry, shall, subject to the provisions of section 4, be entitled to be represented by a barrister or
solicitor at the inquiry.

(2) For the purpose of subsection (1), the Commission shall determine whether the conduct of any person is the
subject of the inquiry or whether a person is in any way implicated or concerned in the subject matter of the inquiry.

(3) The Chief Executive, any Government department and any public officer shall, notwithstanding the
provisions of subsections (1) and (2) but subject to the provisions of section 4, be entitled to be represented at the
inquiry by a legal officer, or by a barrister or solicitor who may- (Amended 25 of 1998 s. 2)

(a) address the Commission on any matter on which he is so instructed by the Chief Secretary for
Administration or by the Secretary for Justice, and (Amended L.N. 226 of 1976; L.N. 362 of 1997)

(b) produce evidence in such form as the Commission may permit on any matter.
(4) The Commission may appoint a legal officer nominated by the Secretary for Justice, a barrister or a solicitor

to act as counsel for the Commission. (Amended L.N. 362 of 1997)

Section: 7 Use of evidence in civil and criminal proceedings 30/06/1997


Evidence given by any person before the Commission shall not be admissible against him in any civil or
criminal proceedings by or against him, except where he is charged with any offence under Part V (Perjury) of the
Crimes Ordinance (Cap 200) or is proceeded against under section 8 or 9.

Section: 7A Production of documents, and evidence, to Commission's

inspectors
30/06/1997



(1) It shall be the duty of all officers and agents of a public body or other body of persons to produce to an
inspector appointed under section 4(1)(ma) to inspect its books and documents, all books and documents in their
custody or power of or relating to such body's affairs or the affairs of any other body of persons the books and
documents of which the inspector is appointed under section 4(1)(ma) to inspect, and otherwise to give to the



Cap 86 - COMMISSIONS OF INQUIRY ORDINANCE 4

inspector all assistance that they are reasonably able to give.
(2) In this section, any reference to officers or to agents of a public body or other body of persons shall include

past, as well as present, officers or agents, as the case may be, and for the purposes of this section "agents" (代理人)
shall include the bankers and solicitors of such body and any person employed by such body as auditor, whether such
person is or is not an officer of such body.

(Added 49 of 1976 s. 5)

Section: 8 Contempts to be offences 30/06/1997


(1) Any person who-
(a) fails without reasonable excuse to attend at the time and place specified in a summons issued under

section 4;
(b) refuses to take an oath or make an affirmation on being required to do so under section 4;
(c) refuses to answer any question put by or with the consent of the Commission or to produce any article

or document in his possession or under his control on being required to do so under section 4;
(ca) being an officer or agent of a public body or other body of persons within the meaning of section 7A-

(i) after the appointment of a Commission and with intent to avoid or prevent production, destroys,
suppresses, defaces or makes away with any book or document that it would be his duty to
produce to an inspector in the event of an inspector being appointed under section 4(1)(ma), or

(ii) refuses, without lawful authority or reasonable excuse, to produce any such book or document to
an inspector so appointed, or

(iii) refuses, without lawful authority or reasonable excuse, to answer any question put to him by an
inspector so appointed with respect to the affairs of such body or any other body the books and
documents of which the inspector has been appointed to inspect; (Added 49 of 1976 s. 6)

(d) wilfully interrupts the proceedings of the Commission or otherwise misbehaves during any hearing of
the Commission;

(e) having been summoned to attend, leaves the place in which a Commission is being held without the
permission of the Commission,

shall be guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine of $1000 and to imprisonment for 3 months.
(2) Any person who-

(a) wilfully hinders or deters any person from attending, giving evidence or producing any article or
document;

(b) threatens, insults or causes any loss to be suffered by any person who has attended before the
Commission, on account of such attendance;

(c) threatens, insults or causes a loss to be suffered by any Commissioner at any time on account of the
performance of his duties as a Commissioner;

(d) publishes or otherwise discloses any material which the Commission had prohibited him from
publishing or disclosing;

(e) publishes or otherwise discloses any material received by the Commission in camera,
shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction upon indictment to a fine of $10000 and to imprisonment for 1
year.

(3) It shall be a good defence in the case of a prosecution under subsection (2)(e) for the person charged to
prove to the satisfaction of the court that he did not know nor had any reason for knowing that the material published
or disclosed had been received by the Commission in camera.

Section: 9 Contempts dealt with by Commission 25 of 1998 01/07/1997


Remarks:
Adaptation amendments retroactively made - see 25 of 1998 s. 2


(1) The Commission may, if so empowered under section 3, deal summarily as a contempt with any offence
specified in section 8 which is committed in its presence, and may impose the sentence prescribed by that section.

(2) In the case of contempts not committed in the presence of the Commission, it may, if so empowered under
section 3, summon the offender to appear before it at the time and place specified in the summons, there to show cause



Cap 86 - COMMISSIONS OF INQUIRY ORDINANCE 5

why the offender should not be sentenced for the contempt, and may impose the sentence prescribed by section 8.
(3) The Commission may issue warrants of arrest to compel the attendance of any person not complying with a

summons issued under subsection (2).
(4) Any sentence of imprisonment imposed under this section may be remitted where the Commission is of the

opinion that the contempt has been purged.
(5) Any person aggrieved by any decision, order or sentence of the Commission in exercise of the powers

conferred by subsection (1) or (2) may appeal to a judge of the Court of First Instance, in the same manner as if it were
an order of a magistrate in respect of which an appeal lies under section 113 of the Magistrates Ordinance (Cap 227),
in accordance with rules made by the Chief Justice. (Amended 25 of 1998 s. 2)

Section: 10 Commission to have powers of judge 30/06/1997


For the purposes of enforcing the payment of any fine imposed or giving effect to any warrant of arrest or
sentence of imprisonment or for other like purposes, the Commission shall have the powers of a judge. In the exercise
of such powers and for the purpose of issuing warrants, summoning persons and the exercise of other like powers the
Chairman may do all necessary acts in the name of the Commission.

Section: 11 Inquiry to be a judicial proceeding 25 of 1998 01/07/1997


Remarks:
Adaptation amendments retroactively made - see 25 of 1998 s. 2


(1) Every inquiry held under this Ordinance shall be deemed to be a judicial proceeding.
(2) Any conduct which would constitute contempt of the Court of First Instance or of a judge, if it were

committed towards the Court of First Instance or a judge as the case may be, shall be a contempt of a Commission and
may be dealt with and punished by a judge of the Court of First Instance as a contempt of the Court of First Instance.
(Amended 25 of 1998 s. 2)

Section: 12 Protection of Commission and witnesses 25 of 1998 01/07/1997


Remarks:
Adaptation amendments retroactively made - see 25 of 1998 s. 2


(1) No Commissioner shall be liable to any suit or other proceeding for any act or thing done by him bona fide
as such Commissioner:

Provided that nothing in this subsection shall be deemed to limit the power of the Court of First Instance to make
an order of mandamus, certiorari or prohibition in relation to proceedings before a Commission.

(2) All evidence given before a Commission shall be absolutely privileged, and no witness giving such
evidence shall be liable to any suit or other civil proceeding in respect thereof.

(3) A legal officer, barrister or solicitor appearing before a Commission, whether as counsel for the
Commission or otherwise under or by virtue of section 6, shall be entitled to the same immunities as if he were
appearing for a party in proceedings before the Court of First Instance. (Added 49 of 1976 s. 7)

(Amended 25 of 1998 s. 2)

Section: 13 Police and bailiffs to assist Commission 30/06/1997


Police officers and bailiffs of the court shall assist any Commission conducting an inquiry under this Ordinance
for such purposes as the Commission may require and may do all such things as are necessary for the purpose of
rendering such assistance.

Section: 14 Cost of inquiry 25 of 1998 01/07/1997


Remarks:
Adaptation amendments retroactively made - see 25 of 1998 s. 2



Cap 86 - COMMISSIONS OF INQUIRY ORDINANCE 6


The cost of any inquiry conducted under this Ordinance, including any sums awarded under section 4(1)(h),

shall be a charge on the general revenue of Hong Kong.
(Amended 25 of 1998 s. 2)


Section: 15 Protection of person publishing true account 25 of 1998 01/07/1997


Remarks:
Adaptation amendments retroactively made - see 25 of 1998 s. 2


Subject to section 8(2)(d) no person shall be liable to any civil or criminal proceedings by reason of his
publishing a true account of any evidence taken in public before a Commission or of any report of a Commission
published by the authority of the Chief Executive.

(Amended 25 of 1998 s. 2)

Schedule: SCHEDULE 25 of 1998 01/07/1997


Remarks:
Adaptation amendments retroactively made - see 25 of 1998 s. 2



FORM 1 [section 3]


Form of oath or affirmation to be taken by a Commissioner


I, ..............................................., swear by Almighty God (solemnly promise and declare) that I will diligently

inquire into the matters prescribed in the instrument appointing this Commission and will truly and faithfully execute
the powers and trusts vested in me by the Commissions of Inquiry Ordinance (Chapter 86) according to the best of my
knowledge and judgment.


_____________


FORM 2 [section 4]


Summons to a witness

To A.B. [name of person summoned and his address].


You are hereby summoned to appear before the Commission appointed by the Chief Executive to inquire [state
subject matter of inquiry] ................. at [place] ............. upon the ............................. day of ...................... at ...........
o'clock in the ................. noon and to give evidence respecting such inquiry, and you are required to bring with you
[specify documents, etc.] .................................


Given under the hand of ....................................., Commissioner, this ................... day of .................................
19 .......


Signature ...................................
(Amended 25 of 1998 s. 2)

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