Legitimacy Ordinance


Published: 1997-06-30

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Cap 184 - LEGITIMACY ORDINANCE 1

Chapter: 184 LEGITIMACY ORDINANCE Gazette Number Version Date

Long title 30/06/1997


To amend the law relating to children born out of wedlock.


[7 October 1971]

(Originally 29 of 1971)

Section: 1 Short title 30/06/1997


This Ordinance may be cited as the Legitimacy Ordinance.

Section: 2 Interpretation 25 of 1998 01/07/1997


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


In this Ordinance, unless the context otherwise requires-
"Court" (法院) means the High Court or the District Court; (Replaced 79 of 1981 s. 6. Amended 25 of 1998 s. 2)
"date of legitimation" (確立婚生地位日期) means the date of the marriage leading to the legitimation, or, where the

marriage occurred before the commencement of this Ordinance, the commencement of this Ordinance;
"disposition" (產權處置) means an assurance of any interest in property by any instrument whether inter vivos or by

will;
"intestate" (無遺囑者) includes a person who leaves a will but dies intestate as to some beneficial interest in his

estate;
"legitimated person" (獲確立婚生地位人士) means a person legitimated by this Ordinance;
"marriage" (婚姻、結婚) means-

(a) a marriage celebrated or contracted in accordance with the provisions of the Marriage Ordinance (Cap
181);

(b) a modern marriage validated by the Marriage Reform Ordinance (Cap 178);
(c) a customary marriage declared to be valid by the Marriage Reform Ordinance (Cap 178); or
(d) a marriage celebrated or contracted outside Hong Kong in accordance with the law in force at the time

and in the place where the marriage was performed.
[cf. 1926 c. 60 s. 11 U.K.]


Section: 3 Legitimation by subsequent marriage of parents 30/06/1997


(1) Subject to the provisions of this section, where the parents of an illegitimate person marry or have married
one another, whether before or after the commencement of this Ordinance, the marriage shall, if the father of the
illegitimate person was or is at the date of the marriage domiciled in Hong Kong or had or has at such date a
substantial connection with Hong Kong, render that person, if living, legitimate from the commencement of this
Ordinance, or from the date of the marriage, whichever last happens.

(2) The legitimation of a person under this Ordinance shall not enable him or his spouse, children or remoter
issue to take any interest in property save as is hereinafter in this Ordinance expressly provided.

(3) The provisions contained in the Schedule shall have effect with respect to the re-registration of the births of
legitimated persons.

(4) The Legislative Council may by resolution vary the amount of any fee specified in the Schedule. (Added
53 of 1986 s. 2)

[cf. 1926 c. 60 s. 1 U.K.]




Cap 184 - LEGITIMACY ORDINANCE 2

Section: 4 Rights of legitimated persons, etc. to take interests in
property

30/06/1997



(1) Subject to the provisions of this Ordinance, a legitimated person and his spouse, children or remoter issue
shall be entitled to take any interest-

(a) in the estate of an intestate dying after the date of legitimation;
(b) under any disposition coming into operation after the date of legitimation,

in like manner as if the legitimated person had been born legitimate.
(2) Where the right to any property depends on the relative seniority of the children or any person, and those

children include one or more legitimated persons, the legitimated person or persons shall rank as if he or they had been
born on the day when he or they became legitimated, and if more than one such legitimated person became legitimated
at the same time, they shall rank as between themselves in order of seniority.

(3) This section applies only if and so far as a contrary intention is not expressed in the disposition, and shall
have effect subject to the terms of the disposition and to the provisions therein contained.

[cf. 1926 c. 60 s. 3 U.K.]

Section: 5 Succession on intestacy of legitimated persons and their

issue
30/06/1997



Where a legitimated person or a child or remoter issue of a legitimated person dies intestate in respect of all or
any of his property, the same persons shall be entitled to take the same interests therein as they would have been
entitled to take if the legitimated person had been born legitimate.

[cf. 1926 c. 60 s. 4 U.K.]

Section: 6 Application to illegitimate person dying before marriage of

parents
30/06/1997



Where an illegitimate person dies after the commencement of this Ordinance and before the marriage of his
parents leaving any spouse, children or remoter issue living at the date of such marriage, then, if that person would, if
living at the time of the marriage of his parents, have become a legitimated person, the provisions of this Ordinance
with respect to the taking of interests in property by, or in succession to, the spouse, children and remoter issue of a
legitimated person shall apply as if such person as aforesaid had been a legitimated person and the date of the
marriage of his parents had been the date of legitimation.

[cf. 1926 c. 60 s. 5 U.K.]

Section: 7 Personal rights and obligations of legitimated persons 30/06/1997


A legitimated person shall have the same rights, and shall be under the same obligations in respect of the
maintenance and support of himself or of any other person as if he had been born legitimate, and, subject to the
provisions of this Ordinance, the provisions of any law relating to claims for damages, compensation, allowance,
benefit, or otherwise by or in respect of a legitimate child shall apply in like manner in the case of a legitimated
person.

[cf. 1926 c. 60 s. 6 U.K.]

Section: 8 Provisions as to persons legitimated by extraneous law 23 of 1998 01/07/1997


Remarks:
Adaptation amendments retroactively made - see 23 of 1998 s. 2


(1) Where the parents of an illegitimate person marry or have married one another, whether before or after the
commencement of this Ordinance, and the father of the illegitimate person was or is, at the time of the marriage,
domiciled in or had a substantial connexion with a place outside Hong Kong, by the law of which the illegitimate
person became legitimated by virtue of such subsequent marriage, that person, if living, shall in Hong Kong be
recognized as having been so legitimated from the commencement of this Ordinance or from the date of the marriage,



Cap 184 - LEGITIMACY ORDINANCE 3

whichever last happens, notwithstanding that his father was not at the time of the birth of such person domiciled in or
did not have a substantial connexion with a place in which legitimation by subsequent marriage was permitted by law.
(Amended 23 of 1998 s. 2)

(2) (Repealed 23 of 1998 s. 2)
[cf. 1926 c. 60 s. 8(1) & (3) U.K.]


Section: 9 Application to persons recognized as having been

legitimated
30/06/1997



All the provisions of this Ordinance relating to legitimated persons and to the taking of interests in property by
or in succession to a legitimated person and the spouse, children and remoter issue of a legitimated person shall apply
in the case of a person recognized as having been legitimated under section 8, or who would, had he survived the
marriage of his parents, have been so recognized; and accordingly this Ordinance shall have effect as if reference
therein to a legitimated person included persons so recognized as having been legitimated.

[cf. 1926 c. 60 s. 8(2) U.K.]

Section: 10 (Repealed 17 of 1993 s. 19) 30/06/1997




Section: 11 Legitimacy of children of certain void marriages 30/06/1997


(1) Subject to the provisions of this section, the child of a void marriage, whether born before or after the
commencement of this Ordinance, shall be treated as the legitimate child of his parents if at the time of the conception
of the child (or at the time of the time of the celebration of the marriage if later) both or either of the parties reasonably
believed that the marriage was valid. (Amended 17 of 1993 s. 19)

(2) This section applies, and applies only, where the father of the child was domiciled in or had a substantial
connection with Hong Kong at the time of the birth or, if he died before the birth, was so domiciled or had such a
connection immediately before his death.

(3) In this section, "void marriage" (無效婚姻) means a marriage, not being voidable only, in respect of which
the Court has or had jurisdiction to grant a decree of nullity, or would have or would have had such jurisdiction if the
parties were domiciled in or had a substantial connection with Hong Kong.

(4) It is hereby declared for the avoidance of doubt that subsection (1) applies notwithstanding that the belief
that the marriage was valid was due to a mistake as to law. (Added 17 of 1993 s. 19)

(5) In relation to a child born after the coming into force of section 19 of the Parent and Child Ordinance (Cap
429), it shall be presumed for the purposes of subsection (1), unless the contrary is shown, that one of the parties to the
void marriage reasonably believed at the time of the conception of the child (or at the time of the celebration of the
marriage if later) that the marriage was valid. (Added 17 of 1993 s. 19)

[cf. 1959 c. 73 s. 2 U.K.; 1976 c. 31 s. 1 U.K.]

Section: 12 Legitimacy of children of voidable marriages 30/06/1997


Where a decree of nullity is granted in respect of a voidable marriage, any child who would have been the
legitimate child of the parties to the marriage if it had been dissolved, instead of being annulled, at the date of the
decree shall be deemed to be their legitimate child notwithstanding the annulment.

[cf. 1965 c. 72 s. 11 U.K.]

Section: 13 Saving 30/06/1997


Nothing in this Ordinance shall affect the operation or construction of any disposition coming into operation
before the commencement of this Ordinance, or affect any rights under the intestacy of a person dying before the
commencement of this Ordinance.

[cf. 1926 c. 60 s. 10(2) U.K.]




Cap 184 - LEGITIMACY ORDINANCE 4

Section: 14 Avoidance of doubt 30/06/1997


(1) For the avoidance of doubt, it is declared that any person who is the child of-
(a) a modern marriage validated by the Marriage Reform Ordinance (Cap 178);
(b) a customary marriage declared to be valid by the Marriage Reform Ordinance (Cap 178);
(c) a union of concubinage; or
(d) a kim tiu marriage entered in accordance with Chinese law and custom applicable thereto in Hong

Kong before the appointed day under the Marriage Reform Ordinance (Cap 178),
shall be a legitimate child of the marriage or union and shall be deemed always to have been so legitimate, for all
purposes.

(2) In this section, "union of concubinage" (夫妾關係) means a union of concubinage, entered by a male
partner and a female partner before 7 October 1971, under which union the female partner has, during the lifetime of
the male partner, been accepted by his wife as his concubine and recognized as such by his family generally.
(Amended 57 of 1995 s. 14)

(3) Where in any proceedings a union of concubinage is proved to have been entered into by a male partner and
a female partner before 7 October 1971, it shall be presumed until the contrary is proved that the female partner has,
during the lifetime of the male partner, been accepted by his wife as his concubine and recognized as such by his
family generally. (Added 57 of 1995 s. 14)

Schedule: SCHEDULE L.N. 453 of 1997 31/10/1997


[section 3(3)]


REGISTRATION OF BIRTHS OF LEGITIMATED PERSONS

1. The Registrar of Births and Deaths (hereinafter referred to as the Registrar which term shall include any deputy
registrar) may, on production of such evidence as appears to him to be satisfactory, authorize at any time the re-
registration of the birth of a legitimated person whose birth is already registered under the Births and Deaths
Registration Ordinance (Cap 174), and such re-registration shall be effected in such manner and at such place as the
Registrar directs:

Provided that the Registrar shall not authorize the re-registration of the birth of any such person in any case
where information with a view to obtaining such re-registration is not furnished to him by both parents, unless-

(a) the name of a person acknowledging himself to be the father of the legitimated person has been
entered in the register in pursuance of section 12 of the Births and Deaths Registration Ordinance
(Cap 174); or

(b) the paternity of the legitimated person has been established by an affiliation order or otherwise by a
decree of a court of competent jurisdiction; or

(c) a declaration of the legitimacy of the legitimated person has been made under section 49 of the
Matrimonial Causes Ordinance (Cap 179).


2. It shall be the duty of the parents of a legitimated person, or, in cases where re-registration can be effected on
information furnished by one parent and one of the parents is dead, of the surviving parent, within the time hereinafter
specified, to furnish to the Registrar information with a view to obtaining the re-registration of the birth of that person;
that is to say-

(a) if the marriage took place before the commencement of this Ordinance, within 6 months of such
commencement;

(b) if the marriage took place after the commencement of this Ordinance, within 3 months after the date of
the marriage.


3. Where the parents, or either of them, fail to furnish the necessary information within the time limited for the
purpose, the Registrar may at any time after the expiration of that time require the parents of a person whom he
believes to have been legitimated by virtue of this Ordinance, or either of them, to give him such information
concerning the matter as he may consider necessary, verified in such manner as he may direct, and for that purpose to
attend personally either at a register office or at any other place appointed by him within such time, not being less



Cap 184 - LEGITIMACY ORDINANCE 5

than 7 days after the receipt of the notice, as may be specified in the notice.

4. The failure of the parents or either of them to furnish information as required by this Schedule in respect of any
legitimated person shall not affect the legitimation of that person.

5. No fee for re-registration under this Schedule shall be charged if the necessary information for the purpose is
furnished within the time above specified; but in any other case there shall be charged in respect of such re-registration
a fee of $340. (Amended 69 of 1984 s. 2; 53 of 1986 s. 3; L.N. 75 of 1991; L.N. 198 of 1993; L.N. 364 of 1994; L.N.
243 of 1995; L.N. 285 of 1996; L.N. 453 of 1997)

6. (1) Upon application being made to a Registrar and upon payment of a fee of $140 a certified copy of the
entry of the birth of a legitimated person whose birth has been re-registered shall be supplied to the person applying
and paying the fee. (Amended 69 of 1984 s. 2; 53 of 1986 s. 3; L.N. 75 of 1991; L.N. 198 of 1993; L.N. 364 of 1994;
L.N. 243 of 1995; L.N. 285 of 1996; L.N. 453 of 1997)

(2) Where the birth of a legitimated person has been re-registered no certified copy of any previous entry
shall be supplied without the consent of the Registrar.

7. This Schedule shall be construed as one with the Births and Deaths Registration Ordinance (Cap 174)

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