The Ombudsman Ordinance


Published: 1997-06-30

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Cap 397 - THE OMBUDSMAN ORDINANCE 1

Chapter: 397 THE OMBUDSMAN ORDINANCE Gazette Number Version Date

Long title 30/06/1997


To make provision for the appointment, powers and functions of an Ombudsman to investigate, whether upon
complaint or of his own motion, administrative actions taken on behalf of the Government or public authorities,
and for purposes connected therewith.

(Amended 44 of 1994 s. 2; 74 of 1996 s. 2)


[1 February 1989] L.N. 27 of 1989

(Originally 67 of 1988)

(Enacted 1988)
_________________________________________________________________________________
Note:
For savings and transitional provisions in The Ombudsman (Amendment) Ordinance 2001 (30 of 2001), see
Part III (sections 21 to 23) of that Ordinance.

Part: I PRELIMINARY 30/06/1997




Section: 1 Short title 30/06/1997


This Ordinance may be cited as The Ombudsman Ordinance (words omitted as spent).
(Amended 74 of 1996 s. 3)

(Enacted 1988)

Section: 2 Interpretation L.N. 273 of 2001 19/12/2001


(1) In this Ordinance, unless the context otherwise requires-
"action" (行動) includes omission, recommendation or decision;
"head" (首長) in relation to-

(a) an organization other than the Government Secretariat means the head, director or equivalent officer of
the organization;

(b) the Government Secretariat means the head of a subdivision thereof to whom the officer whose action
is the subject of the relevant complaint is responsible; (Replaced 44 of 1994 s. 3)

"investigation" (調查) means an investigation by the Ombudsman under this Ordinance; (Amended 74 of 1996 s. 11)
"maladministration" (行政失當) means inefficient, bad or improper administration and, without derogation from the

generality of the foregoing, includes-
(a) unreasonable conduct, including delay, discourtesy and lack of consideration for a person affected by

any action;
(b) abuse of any power (including any discretionary power) or authority including any action which-

(i) is unreasonable, unjust, oppressive or improperly discriminatory or which is in accordance with a
practice which is or may be unreasonable, unjust, oppressive or improperly discriminatory; or

(ii) was based wholly or partly on a mistake of law or fact; or
(c) unreasonable, unjust, oppressive or improperly discriminatory procedures;

"officer" (人員) includes employee;
"Ombudsman" (專員) means The Ombudsman referred to in section 3(1); (Added 74 of 1996 s. 4. Amended 30 of

2001 s. 2)
"organization" (機構) means an organization specified in Schedule 1. (Replaced 44 of 1994 s. 3)

(Amended 74 of 1996 s. 4)
(2) Any reference in this Ordinance to an organization includes a reference to the officers of that organization.

(Amended 44 of 1994 s. 3)



Cap 397 - THE OMBUDSMAN ORDINANCE 2

(Enacted 1988)

Part: II APPOINTMENT OF THE OMBUDSMAN* 30/06/1997

____________________________________________________________________
Note:
* (Amended 74 of 1996 s. 11)

Section: 3 Appointment and tenure of office L.N. 273 of 2001 19/12/2001


(1) For the purposes of this Ordinance, there shall be a corporation sole known as "The Ombudsman".
(Replaced 30 of 2001 s. 3)

(2) The Ombudsman shall have perpetual succession and-
(a) may sue and be sued in that corporate name; and
(b) shall have an official seal. (Replaced 30 of 2001 s. 3)

(3) The Chief Executive shall in writing under his hand appoint a person to be the Ombudsman. (Replaced 30
of 2001 s. 3)

(3A) A person appointed to be the Ombudsman shall, subject to subsection (4), hold office for a period of 5 years
and shall be eligible for reappointment. (Added 30 of 2001 s. 3)

(4) A person appointed to be the Ombudsman may-
(a) at any time resign his office by notice in writing to the Chief Executive;
(b) be removed from office by the Chief Executive with the approval by resolution of the Legislative

Council on the ground of inability to discharge the functions of his office, or misbehaviour.
(5) The emoluments of the person appointed to be the Ombudsman, and the terms and conditions of his

appointment, shall be determined by the Chief Executive. (Amended 30 of 2001 s. 3)
(6) Any salary or other benefit payable to the person appointed to be the Ombudsman shall be charged on the

general revenue. (Amended 30 of 2001 s. 3)
(7) The financial and report provisions set out in Schedule 1A shall have effect with respect to the

Ombudsman. (Added 30 of 2001 s. 3)
(Amended 74 of 1996 s. 11; 25 of 1998 s. 2)

(Enacted 1988)

Section: 4 Ombudsman to hold no other office L.N. 273 of 2001 19/12/2001


The person appointed to be the Ombudsman shall not, without the specific approval of the Chief Executive, hold
any office of profit, other than his office as Ombudsman, or engage in any occupation for reward outside the duties of
his office.

(Amended 74 of 1996 s. 11; 25 of 1998 s. 2; 30 of 2001 s. 4)
(Enacted 1988)


Section: 5 Filling of temporary vacancy L.N. 273 of 2001 19/12/2001


(1) If the person appointed to be the Ombudsman- (Amended 30 of 2001 s. 5)
(a) dies;
(b) resigns;
(c) is removed from office;
(d) is absent from Hong Kong; or
(e) is for any other reason unable to perform the functions of his office,

those functions shall, until such time as he resumes the functions of his office or another person is appointed to be the
Ombudsman under section 3, be assumed and performed by such person as may be appointed in writing under the
hand of the Chief Executive to act as Ombudsman. (Amended 25 of 1998 s. 2; 30 of 2001 s. 5)

(2) All provisions, except section 3(3), (3A) and (4), of this Ordinance that apply to the person appointed to be
the Ombudsman shall apply to the person appointed to act as the Ombudsman. (Replaced 30 of 2001 s. 5)

(Amended 74 of 1996 s. 11)
(Enacted 1988)



Cap 397 - THE OMBUDSMAN ORDINANCE 3


Section: 6 Staff of Ombudsman L.N. 273 of 2001 19/12/2001


(1) The Ombudsman may appoint such persons as may be necessary for the efficient carrying out of his
functions under this Ordinance.

(2) The salaries of persons appointed under subsection (1), and the terms and conditions of their appointments,
shall be determined by the Ombudsman. (Amended 25 of 1998 s. 2; 30 of 2001 s. 6)

(3) Subject to section 3(6) the expenses of the Ombudsman and any salary or benefit payable to any person
appointed under subsection (1) shall be paid out of moneys appropriated for that purpose by the Legislative Council.

(Amended 74 of 1996 s. 11)
(Enacted 1988)


Section: 6A Advisers L.N. 273 of 2001 19/12/2001


The Ombudsman may from time to time appoint such technical or professional advisers as he considers
necessary to assist him in the performance of his functions under this Ordinance.

(Added 30 of 2001 s. 7)

Section: 6B Ombudsman not to be regarded as servant or agent of

Government
L.N. 273 of 2001 19/12/2001



(1) Subject to subsections (2) and (3), the Ombudsman shall not be regarded as a servant or agent of the
Government or as enjoying any status, immunity or privilege of the Government.

(2) For the purposes of the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance (Cap 201), the person appointed to be the
Ombudsman shall be deemed to be a public servant within the meaning of section 2 of that Ordinance.

(3) For the purposes of the Public Finance Ordinance (Cap 2), the person appointed to be the Ombudsman shall
be deemed to be a public officer and shall be designated as the controlling officer in respect of the estimates of
expenditure of the Ombudsman under section 12 of that Ordinance.

(Added 30 of 2001 s. 7)

Part: III FUNCTIONS AND POWERS OF THE OMBUDSMAN* L.N. 273 of 2001 19/12/2001

_____________________________________________________________________
Note:
* (Amended 74 of 1996 s. 11; 30 of 2001 s. 8)

Section: 7 Functions and powers of Ombudsman E.R. 2 of 2012 02/08/2012


(1) The Ombudsman may investigate any action taken by or on behalf of-
(a) an organization set out in Part 1 of Schedule 1 in the exercise of its administrative functions; or
(b) an organization set out in Part 2 of Schedule 1 in the exercise of its administrative functions in relation

to the Code on Access to Information published by the Government,
in any case where-

(i) a complaint is made by a person who claims to have sustained injustice in consequence of
maladministration in connection with that action; or

(ii) notwithstanding that no complaint has been made to him, he is of the opinion that any person may have
sustained injustice in consequence of maladministration in connection with that action. (Replaced 74
of 1996 s. 6)

(1A) The Ombudsman may do all such things as are necessary for, or incidental or conducive to, the better
performance of his functions, and in particular, but without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing, may-

(a) acquire and hold property of any description if in the opinion of the Ombudsman such property is
necessary for-
(i) the accommodation of the Ombudsman or any person appointed under section 6(1);
(ii) the performance of any of his functions,
and, subject to the terms and conditions upon which such property is held, dispose of it;



Cap 397 - THE OMBUDSMAN ORDINANCE 4

(b) enter into, carry out, assign or accept the assignment of, vary or rescind, any contract, agreement or
other obligation. (Added 30 of 2001 s. 9)

(2) The powers conferred on the Ombudsman by this Ordinance shall be exercised in accordance with the
provisions of this Ordinance but may be so exercised notwithstanding any provision in any law to the effect that any
decision shall be final, or that no appeal shall lie in respect thereof, or that no proceeding or decision of the
organization whose decision it is shall be challenged, reviewed, quashed, or called in question. (Amended 44 of 1994
s. 4; 74 of 1996 s. 11)

(3) (Repealed 44 of 1994 s. 4)
(Amended E.R. 2 of 2012)

(Enacted 1988)

Section: 8 Actions not subject to investigation 30/06/1997


The Ombudsman shall not undertake or continue any investigation that relates to any action or matter specified
in Schedule 2.

(Amended 44 of 1994 s. 5; 74 of 1996 s. 11)
(Enacted 1988)


Section: 9 Determination of questions relating to Ombudsman's

authority
30/06/1997



In determining whether to undertake, continue or discontinue an investigation, the Ombudsman shall, subject to
the provisions of this Ordinance, act in accordance with his own discretion; and any question whether a complaint is
duly made under this Ordinance shall be determined by the Ombudsman.

(Amended 74 of 1996 s. 11)
(Enacted 1988)


Section: 9A Fees L.N. 273 of 2001 19/12/2001


(1) The Ombudsman may charge any person such reasonable fee as he determines in respect of any service-
(a) approved by the Director of Administration; and
(b) provided by the Ombudsman to that person under this Ordinance, otherwise than in pursuance of an

obligation imposed by this Ordinance.
(2) The Ombudsman may recover any fee payable under subsection (1) as a civil debt due to him.

(Added 30 of 2001 s. 10)

Part: IV COMPLAINTS 30/06/1997




Section: 10 Restrictions on investigation of complaints 25 of 1998 01/07/1997


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


(1) Notwithstanding the generality of the powers conferred on the Ombudsman by this Ordinance, the
Ombudsman shall not undertake or continue an investigation into a complaint-

(a) if it relates to any action of which the complainant has had actual knowledge for more than 24 months
before the complaint is received by the Ombudsman, unless the Ombudsman is satisfied that in the
particular circumstances it is proper to conduct an investigation into a complaint not made within that
period;

(b) if the complaint is made anonymously;
(c) if the complainant cannot be identified or traced;
(d) if the complaint is not made by the individual aggrieved himself or, where the individual by whom the

complaint might have been made has died or is for any reason unable to act for himself, by his



Cap 397 - THE OMBUDSMAN ORDINANCE 5

personal representative or by a member of his family or other individual suitable to represent him;
(Amended 44 of 1994 s. 6)

(da) where the complaint is made on behalf of a body corporate, if the Ombudsman is not satisfied that the
body corporate authorized the making of the complaint; (Added 44 of 1994 s. 6)

(db) if none of the following conditions is fulfilled in relation to the complaint-
(i) when the action which is the subject of the complaint was taken, the complainant was (in the case

of an individual) resident in Hong Kong or (in the case of a body corporate) had a place of
business in Hong Kong; or

(ii) the action which is the subject of the complaint was taken in relation to the person aggrieved
while he was in Hong Kong; or

(iii) the action which is the subject of the complaint was taken in relation to any right or obligation
which accrued or arose in Hong Kong; or (Added 44 of 1994 s. 6)

(e) if the complaint relates to any action in respect of which the complainant has or had-
(i) under any Ordinance, a right of appeal or objection, or a right to apply for a review, on the merits

of the case, to the Chief Executive, the Chief Executive in Council, any tribunal constituted by or
under any Ordinance, or any board or other authority so constituted; or (Amended 25 of 1998 s.
2)

(ii) a remedy by way of proceedings in a court, other than by way of judicial review, or in any
tribunal constituted by or under any Ordinance,

unless the Ombudsman is satisfied that in the particular circumstances it is not reasonable to expect the
complainant to resort or to have resorted to that right or remedy.

(2) The Ombudsman may in his discretion decide not to undertake or continue an investigation into a
complaint, if he is of the opinion, having regard to all the circumstances of the case, that-

(a) the complaint, or a complaint of a substantially similar nature, has previously been the subject of an
investigation as a result of which the Ombudsman was of the opinion that there had been no
maladministration;

(b) the subject matter of the complaint is trivial;
(c) the complaint is frivolous or vexatious or is not made in good faith; or
(d) any investigation or further investigation is for any other reason unnecessary.

(3) If the Ombudsman decides not to undertake or continue an investigation into a complaint he shall inform
the complainant of that decision and of his reasons. (Amended 44 of 1994 s. 6)

(Amended 74 of 1996 s. 11)
(Enacted 1988)


Section: 11 Ombudsman may undertake or continue investigation

notwithstanding withdrawal of complaint
30/06/1997



Where the Ombudsman is of the opinion that it is in the public interest so to do, he may undertake or continue an
investigation into a complaint notwithstanding that the complainant has withdrawn the complaint and, in any such
case, the provisions of this Ordinance shall apply to the complaint and the complainant as if the complaint had not
been withdrawn.

(Amended 74 of 1996 s. 11)
(Enacted 1988)


Section: 11A Preliminary inquiries L.N. 273 of 2001 19/12/2001


For the purposes of determining whether to undertake an investigation, the Ombudsman may conduct such
preliminary inquiries as he considers appropriate.

(Added 30 of 2001 s. 11)

Section: 11B Dealing with complaints by mediation L.N. 273 of 2001 19/12/2001


(1) The Ombudsman may decide to deal with a complaint by mediation under this section if he is of the
opinion, having regard to all the circumstances of the case, that the subject matter of the complaint involves no, or
only minor, maladministration.



Cap 397 - THE OMBUDSMAN ORDINANCE 6

(2) The Ombudsman may authorize any person appointed under section 6(1) as a mediator in any mediation.
(3) The person appointed to be the Ombudsman under section 3(3) shall not participate as a mediator in any

mediation.
(4) Participation in the mediation by the complainant and the organization affected is voluntary, and any party

may withdraw at any time.
(5) The mediator may terminate the mediation at any time.
(6) If an attempt to deal with a complaint by mediation under this section is unsuccessful-

(a) the complaint is to be treated under this Part as if the mediation had not taken place; and
(b) the mediator is excluded from participating as an investigating officer in any subsequent investigation

of the complaint.
(7) Anything said or admitted during the mediation and any document prepared for the purposes of such

mediation-
(a) shall not be admissible in evidence in any subsequent investigation of the complaint concerned unless

the person who said or admitted the thing, or to whom the document related, consents to its admission;
(b) shall not be admissible in evidence against any person in any court or at any inquiry or in any other

proceedings,
and no evidence in respect of the mediation may be given against any person.

(8) Nothing in this section prevents a complaint from being dealt with otherwise than in accordance with this
section.

(Added 30 of 2001 s. 11)

Part: V PROCEEDINGS 30/06/1997




Section: 12 Proceedings of Ombudsman L.N. 362 of 1997 01/07/1997


(1) Before investigating any action, the Ombudsman shall inform the head of the organization affected of his
intention to conduct an investigation and may seek his comments. (Amended 44 of 1994 s. 7)

(2) Subsection (1) shall not apply where the Ombudsman thinks compliance is inappropriate in the particular
circumstances of the case and, instead of complying with that subsection, informs the Chief Secretary for
Administration of his intention to conduct an investigation. (Amended L.N. 362 of 1997)

(3) Subject to the provisions of this Ordinance, the Ombudsman-
(a) may obtain any information, document or thing from such persons, and make such inquiries, as he

thinks fit; and (Amended 44 of 1994 s. 7)
(b) may regulate his procedure in such manner as he thinks fit.

(4) Every investigation shall be conducted in private and counsel and solicitors shall not have any right of
audience before the Ombudsman, but may appear before him if he thinks fit.

(5) It shall not be necessary for the Ombudsman to hold any hearing and, subject to subsection (6), no person
shall be entitled to be heard by the Ombudsman.

(6) If at any time during the course of an investigation it appears to the Ombudsman that there may be
sufficient grounds for him to make any report or recommendation that may criticize or adversely affect any officer,
organization or person he shall give to the officer, head of the organization affected or person an opportunity to be
heard. (Amended 44 of 1994 s. 7)

(Amended 74 of 1996 s. 11)
(Enacted 1988)


Section: 13 Evidence L.N. 273 of 2001 19/12/2001


(1) Subject to section 14, the Ombudsman may summon before him-
(a) any person, whether or not he is an officer of any organization, who in the opinion of the Ombudsman

is able to give any information relating to any action that is being investigated by the Ombudsman; and
(b) any complainant,

and may examine them and require them to furnish to him any information, and to produce any document or thing
which, in the Ombudsman's opinion, whether or not it is in the custody or under the control of any organization,
relates to that action and which may be in the possession or under the control of that person or, as the case may be, of



Cap 397 - THE OMBUDSMAN ORDINANCE 7

the complainant. (Amended 44 of 1994 s. 8)
(2) The Ombudsman may administer an oath for the purposes of an examination under subsection (1) if he

thinks fit.
(3) Except in relation to the subject of any certificate issued under section 14(3)-

(a) no obligation to maintain secrecy or other restriction, imposed by law, upon the disclosure of any
information, document or other thing, that is or has been in the possession or under the control of an
organization, shall apply to its disclosure for the purposes of an investigation under this Ordinance;
and (Amended 30 of 2001 s. 12)

(b) any requirement by the Ombudsman that any such information, document or thing as is referred to in
paragraph (a) be disclosed or produced for the purposes of an investigation under this Ordinance shall
be sufficient authority for its disclosure or production to the Ombudsman.

(4) The Ombudsman may pay the reasonable expenses of complainants and witnesses incurred during the
course of an investigation under this Ordinance.

(Amended 74 of 1996 s. 11)
(Enacted 1988)


Section: 14 Protection of witnesses, etc. L.N. 362 of 1997;

25 of 1998
01/07/1997



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


(1) Every person shall have the same privileges in relation to the giving of information, the answering of
questions, and the production of documents and things, for the purposes of this Ordinance, as witnesses have in civil
proceedings in the High Court but, subject to subsection (3), any rule of law which authorizes or requires the
withholding of any document or thing, or the refusal to answer any question, on the ground that the disclosure of the
document or thing or the answering of the question would be injurious to the public interest, shall not apply in respect
of any investigation.

(2) Except on the trial of any person for perjury in respect of his sworn testimony, or for an offence under this
Ordinance, no statement made or answer given by that or any other person in the course of any investigation shall be
admissible in evidence against any person in any court or at any inquiry or in any other proceedings, and no evidence
in respect of an investigation shall be given against any person.

(3) Where the giving of any information or the answering of any question or the production of any document or
thing-

(a) is the subject of a certificate by the Chief Executive that it might prejudice security, defence or
international relations (including relations with any international organization) in respect of Hong
Kong; or

(b) is the subject of a certificate by the Chief Secretary for Administration that it might- (Amended L.N.
362 of 1997)
(i) prejudice the investigation or detection of crime; or
(ii) involve the disclosure, without the consent of the Chief Executive, of the deliberations of the

Executive Council,
the Ombudsman shall not require the information or answer to be given or, as the case may be, the document or thing
to be produced. (Amended 74 of 1996 s. 11)

(Amended 25 of 1998 s. 2)
(Enacted 1988)


Section: 15 Ombudsman and his staff to maintain secrecy L.N. 273 of 2001 19/12/2001


(1) The Ombudsman and every person appointed under section 6 or 6A shall, subject to subsections (2) and (3),
maintain secrecy in respect of all matters that- (Amended 30 of 2001 s. 13)

(a) arise from any investigation or complaint made to the Ombudsman; and
(b) come to their actual knowledge in the exercise of their functions. (Replaced 74 of 1996 s. 7)

(2) Subsection (1) shall not apply so as to prevent the Ombudsman or any person appointed under section 6 or
6A from- (Amended 74 of 1996 s. 11; 30 of 2001 s. 13)



Cap 397 - THE OMBUDSMAN ORDINANCE 8

(a) disclosing in the course of proceedings for an offence under the Ordinance, any matter relevant to
those proceedings;

(b) reporting evidence of any crime to such authority as he considers appropriate;
(c) disclosing to a person any matter referred to in subsection (1) which, in the opinion of the Ombudsman

or person so appointed-
(i) may be ground for a complaint by that person; or
(ii) is necessary to be disclosed to that person for the purposes of investigating a complaint or

deciding whether an investigation should be undertaken, continued or discontinued. (Replaced
74 of 1996 s. 7)

(3) The Ombudsman may disclose in any report made by him under this Ordinance any matter that in his
opinion ought to be disclosed in order to establish grounds for his conclusions and recommendations, other than a
matter in respect of which the Chief Executive certifies that its disclosure might prejudice security, defence, or
international relations (including relations with any international organization) in respect of Hong Kong or would
otherwise be contrary to the public interest. (Amended 74 of 1996 s. 11; 25 of 1998 s. 2)

(4) Any person who fails to comply with subsection (1) commits an offence and is liable to a fine of $50000
and to imprisonment for 2 years.

(Enacted 1988)

Section: 16 Reports by the Ombudsman 25 of 1998 01/07/1997


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


(1) In any case in which, after making an investigation into any action, the Ombudsman is of the opinion that
one or more of the following circumstances have been revealed-

(a) there is evidence of any maladministration on the part of any officer of any organization;
(b) the matter should be referred to the head of the organization affected for further consideration;
(c) an omission should be rectified;
(d) the action should be cancelled or varied;
(e) any practice on which the action was based should be altered;
(f) any view of the law on which the action was based should be reconsidered;
(g) reasons should have been given for the action;
(h) any other steps should be taken,

the Ombudsman may, if he thinks fit to do so, report his opinion and his reasons, together with- (Amended 74 of 1996
s. 8)

(i) a statement of any remedy that he considers should be provided;
(ii) a statement of any recommendation that he thinks fit to make;
(iii) a copy of the comments made by or on behalf of the head of the organization affected on the finding,

opinion or recommendation of the Ombudsman,
if any, to the head of the organization affected or, if the Ombudsman thinks it appropriate in the particular
circumstances of the case not to report to the head of the organization, to the Chief Executive. (Amended 44 of 1994
s. 9)

(2) The Ombudsman may specify in a report under subsection (1) to a head of the organization a time within
which the Ombudsman is of the opinion it is reasonable in all the circumstances for the report to be acted upon.
(Amended 44 of 1994 s. 9)

(3) Where a report under subsection (1) to a head of the organization is not, in the opinion of the Ombudsman,
adequately acted upon- (Amended 44 of 1994 s. 9)

(a) within the time specified in the report; or
(b) if no time is specified in the report, within such time as the Ombudsman is of the opinion is reasonable

in all the circumstances,
the Ombudsman may submit the report and recommendations, together with such further observations as he thinks fit
to make, to the Chief Executive.

(4) The Ombudsman shall attach to every report submitted to the Chief Executive under subsection (3) a copy
of any comments made thereon by or on behalf of the head of the organization affected. (Amended 44 of 1994 s. 9)

(5) In addition to making a report under subsection (1) or (3) the Ombudsman may, where he is of the opinion



Cap 397 - THE OMBUDSMAN ORDINANCE 9

that a serious irregularity or injustice has taken place, make a further report stating his opinion and his reasons to the
Chief Executive.

(6) Within a period of 1 month, or such longer period as the Chief Executive may determine, after receipt of the
report from the Ombudsman under subsection (5), a copy of the report shall be laid before the Legislative Council.

(Amended 74 of 1996 s. 11; 25 of 1998 s. 2)
(Enacted 1988)


Section: 16A Publication of reports L.N. 273 of 2001 19/12/2001


(1) After making an investigation into any action the Ombudsman may, if he is of the opinion that it is in the
public interest so to do, publish a report on the investigation in such manner as he thinks fit.

(2) A report published under subsection (1) shall not disclose the identity of-
(a) any person aggrieved;
(b) any complainant; or
(c) any officer of the organization whose action is the subject of the investigation or who is otherwise

involved in the investigation. (Amended 30 of 2001 s. 14)
(3) Nothing in subsection (2) shall be construed as preventing the Ombudsman from disclosing the name of an

organization in a report published under subsection (1).
(Added 44 of 1994 s. 10. Amended 74 of 1996 s. 11)


Section: 17 Persons to be informed of result of investigation 25 of 1998 01/07/1997


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


(1) In any case where he conducts an investigation upon complaint, the Ombudsman shall inform the
complainant in such manner and at such time as he thinks fit, of- (Amended 44 of 1994 s. 11; 74 of 1996 s. 11)

(a) the result of his investigation;
(b) any report or recommendation made under section 16 and any comments made thereon by or on behalf

of the head of the organization affected; (Amended 44 of 1994 s. 11)
(c) such comments on the matter as he thinks fit to make; and
(d) such comments, if any, as the Chief Executive may require him to forward to the complainant.

(Amended 25 of 1998 s. 2)
(2) In any case where he conducts an investigation, the Ombudsman shall, unless he has already made a report

under section 16(1) to the head of the organization affected, inform him, in such manner and at such time as he thinks
fit, of the result of his investigation. (Amended 44 of 1994 s. 11; 74 of 1996 s. 11)

(3) (Repealed 44 of 1994 s. 11)
(Enacted 1988)


Part: VI SUPPLEMENTARY 30/06/1997




Section: 18 Privilege L.N. 273 of 2001 19/12/2001


For the purposes of the law of defamation, absolute privilege shall be attached to the publication of any matter-
(a) by the Ombudsman or his staff to any person for the purpose of an investigation under this Ordinance,

or for the purposes of section 16, 16A or 17 or section 3(4)(a) of Schedule 1A; (Amended 44 of 1994
s. 12; 74 of 1996 s. 11; 30 of 2001 s. 15)

(b) (Repealed 44 of 1994 s. 12)
(Enacted 1988)


Section: 18A Immunity L.N. 273 of 2001 19/12/2001


No person acting in good faith shall be personally liable for any civil liability or claim whatever in respect of any



Cap 397 - THE OMBUDSMAN ORDINANCE 10

act done or omitted to be done in the performance or purported performance of any function, or the exercise or
purported exercise of any power, under this Ordinance.

(Added 30 of 2001 s. 16)

Section: 19 Duty of head of organization 30/06/1997


An investigation shall not affect any action taken by the head of the organization affected, or his power or duty
to take further action with respect to any decision which is subject to the investigation.

(Amended 44 of 1994 s. 13)
(Enacted 1988)


Section: 20 Power of entry on premises 25 of 1998 01/07/1997


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


(1) For the purposes of this Ordinance, but subject to subsections (2) and (3), the Ombudsman may at any time-
(a) enter any premises occupied, managed or controlled by an organization; (Amended 44 of 1994 s. 14)
(b) inspect the premises; and
(c) subject to the provisions of sections 13 and 14, carry out in the premises any investigation which is

within his jurisdiction.
(2) Before entering any such premises the Ombudsman shall notify the head of the organization by which the

premises are occupied, managed or controlled. (Amended 44 of 1994 s. 14)
(3) The Chief Executive may from time to time, by notice to the Ombudsman, exclude any specified premises

or class of premises from the application of subsection (1) if he is satisfied that prejudice might otherwise be caused to
security, defence, or international relations (including relations with any international organization) in respect of Hong
Kong. (Amended 25 of 1998 s. 2)

(Amended 74 of 1996 s. 11)
(Enacted 1988)


Section: 21 Delegation of powers and duties of the Ombudsman 30/06/1997


(1) Subject to subsection (2), the Ombudsman may, by notice in the Gazette, delegate to any person appointed
under section 6 any of his powers under this Ordinance, except the power of delegation in this section and, where it
appears to the Ombudsman that he has or may have an interest in any matter which is the subject of an investigation
under section 7, shall so delegate his powers and shall not undertake personally or continue that investigation or report
thereon. (Amended 44 of 1994 s. 15)

(2) Except where the Ombudsman is required by subsection (1) to delegate his powers under this Ordinance,
any power or duty to make a report under this Ordinance shall not be delegated by him; but where he is so required
any duty imposed by this Ordinance on the Ombudsman shall be imposed instead on the person to whom the
Ombudsman's powers under subsection (1) are delegated.

(Amended 74 of 1996 s. 11)
(Enacted 1988)


Section: 22 (Repealed 30 of 2001 s. 17) L.N. 273 of 2001 19/12/2001




Section: 23 Offences 30/06/1997


Any person who-
(a) without lawful excuse, obstructs, hinders or resists the Ombudsman or any other person in the exercise

of his powers under this Ordinance;
(b) without lawful excuse, fails to comply with any lawful requirement of the Ombudsman or any other

person under this Ordinance; or



Cap 397 - THE OMBUDSMAN ORDINANCE 11

(c) makes a statement which he knows to be false or does not believe to be true, or otherwise knowingly
misleads the Ombudsman or any other person in the exercise of his powers under this Ordinance,

commits an offence and is liable to a fine of $10000 and to imprisonment for 6 months.
(Amended 74 of 1996 s. 11)

(Enacted 1988)

Section: 24 Power to amend Schedules L.N. 273 of 2001 19/12/2001


The Chief Executive in Council may by order published in the Gazette amend Schedules 1 and 1A.
(Replaced 44 of 1994 s. 16. Amended 25 of 1998 s. 2; 30 of 2001 s. 18)


Section: 25 Transitional 30/06/1997


A complaint under this Ordinance may be made in respect of matters which arose before the commencement of
this Ordinance and for the purposes of section 10(1)(a) any time elapsing between the date of the enactment and the
date of the commencement of this Ordinance (but not any time before the first of those dates) shall be disregarded.

(Enacted 1988)

Schedule: 1 Organizations to which this Ordinance Applies L.N. 40 of 2015 01/03/2015


[sections 2(1), 7(1) & 24]
(Amended L.N. 168 of 2006)


Part 1#

(Amended 44 of 1994 s. 17; 74 of 1996 s. 9)

Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department. (Replaced L.N. 331 of 1999)
Airport Authority. (Added L.N. 155 of 1996)
All registries and administrative offices of courts and tribunals for which the Judiciary Administrator has
responsibility. (Replaced L.N. 155 of 1996)
Architectural Services Department.
Audit Commission. (Amended L.N. 362 of 1997)
Auxiliary Medical Service (as raised and maintained under section 3 of the Auxiliary Medical Service Ordinance (Cap
517)). (Added L.N. 217 of 2009)
*Auxiliary Medical Service (Government department). (Added L.N. 155 of 1996. Amended 57 of 1997 s. 34; L.N.
217 of 2009)
Buildings Department. (Replaced L.N. 282 of 1993)
Census and Statistics Department.
Civil Aid Service (as raised and maintained under section 3 of the Civil Aid Service Ordinance (Cap 518)). (Added
L.N. 217 of 2009)
+Civil Aid Service (Government department). (Added L.N. 155 of 1996. Amended 58 of 1997 s. 34; L.N. 217 of
2009)
Civil Aviation Department.
Civil Engineering and Development Department. (Replaced L.N. 183 of 1992. Amended L.N. 104 of 2004)
Companies Registry. (Added 8 of 1993 s. 28)
Competition Commission. (Added 14 of 2012 s. 176)
Consumer Council. (Added L.N. 217 of 2009)
Correctional Services Department.
Customs and Excise Department.
Department of Health. (Added L.N. 414 of 1989)
Department of Justice. (Amended L.N. 362 of 1997)
Drainage Services Department. (Added L.N. 357 of 1989)
Electrical and Mechanical Services Department.
Employees Retraining Board. (Added L.N. 139 of 1999)
Environmental Protection Department.



Cap 397 - THE OMBUDSMAN ORDINANCE 12

Equal Opportunities Commission. (Added 30 of 2001 s. 19)
Estate Agents Authority. (L.N. 217 of 2009)
Financial Reporting Council. (Added 18 of 2006 s. 81)
Fire Services Department.
Food and Environmental Hygiene Department. (Added 78 of 1999 s. 7)
General Office of the Chief Executive's Office. (Added L.N. 155 of 1996. Amended 25 of 1998 s. 2)
Government Flying Service. (Added L.N. 242 of 1993)
Government Laboratory.
Government Logistics Department. (Replaced L.N. 164 of 2003)
Government Property Agency. (Added L.N. 181 of 1991)
Government Secretariat.
Highways Department.
Home Affairs Department. (Replaced L.N. 155 of 1996)
Hong Kong Arts Development Council. (Added 26 of 1995 s. 20)
Hong Kong Housing Authority. (Added 44 of 1994 s. 17)
Hong Kong Housing Society. (Added L.N. 155 of 1996)
Hong Kong Monetary Authority. (Added L.N. 97 of 1993)
Hong Kong Observatory. (Amended 25 of 1998 s. 2; L.N. 168 of 2006)
Hong Kong Sports Institute Limited. (Added L.N. 5 of 2005)
Hospital Authority. (Added L.N. 420 of 1991)
Housing Department.
Immigration Department.
Information Services Department.
Inland Revenue Department.
Intellectual Property Department. (Added L.N. 236 of 1990)
Invest Hong Kong. (Added L.N. 152 of 2000)
Joint Secretariat for the Advisory Bodies on Civil Service and Judicial Salaries and Conditions of Service. (Added
L.N. 253 of 2001)
Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation. (Added 44 of 1994 s. 17)
Labour Department.
Land Registry. (Added 8 of 1993 s. 28)
Lands Department. (Added L.N. 282 of 1993)
Legal Aid Department.
Legislative Council Secretariat. (Replaced 14 of 1994 s. 24)
Leisure and Cultural Services Department. (Added 78 of 1999 s. 7)
Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Authority. (Added L.N. 139 of 1999)
Marine Department.
Office of the Communications Authority. (Replaced 17 of 2011 s. 28)
Official Receiver's Office. (Added L.N. 183 of 1992)
Planning Department. (Added L.N. 414 of 1989)
Post Office.
Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data. (Added 30 of 2001 s. 19)
Radio Television Hong Kong.
Rating and Valuation Department.
Registration and Electoral Office. (Added L.N. 251 of 1994)
Securities and Futures Commission. (Added 44 of 1994 s. 17)
Social Welfare Department.
The Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority. (Replaced 23 of 2002 s. 27)
Trade and Industry Department. (Replaced L.N. 173 of 2000)
Transport Department.
Treasury.
University Grants Committee, Secretariat. (Amended L.N. 35 of 1995)
Urban Renewal Authority (Replaced 63 of 2000 s. 38)
Vocational Training Council. (Added L.N. 155 of 1996)
Water Supplies Department.



Cap 397 - THE OMBUDSMAN ORDINANCE 13

West Kowloon Cultural District Authority. (Added 27 of 2008 s. 43)
Working Family and Student Financial Assistance Agency. (Added L.N. 40 of 2015)

(Amended L.N. 76 of 1989; L.N. 373 of 1989; 8 of 1993 s. 28; 78 of 1999 s. 7; 13 of 2000 s. 65; L.N. 152 of
2000; 63 of 2000 s. 38; L.N. 253 of 2001; 3 of 2003 s. 28; L.N. 164 of 2003; L.N. 104 of 2004; 11 of 2004 s. 18;
L.N. 168 of 2006; 17 of 2011 s. 28; L.N. 40 of 2015)


Part 2


Independent Commission Against Corruption.
Hong Kong Auxiliary Police Force. (Amended 25 of 1998 s. 2)
Hong Kong Police Force. (Amended 25 of 1998 s. 2)
Secretariat of the Public Service Commission.

(Part 2 added 74 of 1996 s. 9. Amended 33 of 2008 s. 48)
(Format changes—E.R. 2 of 2012)

(Enacted 1988)
_________________________________________________________________________________
Note:
# "Education Department" was repealed from Part 1 of this Schedule by the Education Reorganization

(Miscellaneous Amendments) Ordinance 2003 (3 of 2003). For the related saving and transitional
provisions, see section 29 of the Ordinance.

* Please see the saving provisions contained in section 33(4) of Cap 517.
+ Please see the saving provisions contained in section 33(4) of Cap 518.

Schedule: 1A FINANCES, ETC. OF OMBUDSMAN L.N. 106 of 2002 01/07/2002


[sections 3(7), 18(a) & 24]


1. Resources of Ombudsman


The resources of the Ombudsman shall consist of-
(a) all money appropriated by the Legislative Council under section 6(3) of this Ordinance;
(b) all other money and property, including fees, interest and accumulations of income received by the

Ombudsman.

2. Investment of surplus funds


(1) Subject to subsection (2), the Ombudsman may invest his funds that are not immediately required to be
expended.

(2) The Ombudsman shall not invest funds pursuant to subsection (1) except in such form of investment as the
Director of Administration, after consulting with the Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, approves.
(Amended L.N. 106 of 2002)

3. Accounts, audit and annual report of Ombudsman


(1) The Ombudsman shall cause proper accounts to be kept of all his financial transactions.
(2) The Ombudsman shall, as soon as practicable after the end of a financial year, prepare a statement of the

accounts of the Ombudsman, which statement shall include an income and expenditure account and a balance sheet.
(3) The Ombudsman shall appoint an auditor who shall, as soon as practicable after the end of a financial year,

audit the accounts required under subsection (1) and the statement of accounts required under subsection (2) and shall
submit a report on the statement to the Ombudsman.

(4) The Ombudsman shall, as soon as practicable and in any case within 6 months after the end of a financial
year, furnish-

(a) a report on his activities including a general survey of developments, during that year, in respect of
matters falling within the scope of his functions;

(b) a copy of the statement of accounts required under subsection (2); and



Cap 397 - THE OMBUDSMAN ORDINANCE 14

(c) the auditor's report on the statement,
to the Chief Executive who shall cause them to be tabled in the Legislative Council.

4. Director of Audit's examination


(1) The Director of Audit may, in respect of any financial year, conduct an examination into the economy,

efficiency and effectiveness with which the Ombudsman has expended his resources in performing his functions and
exercising his powers.

(2) Subject to subsection (3), the Director of Audit shall have a right of access at all reasonable times to all
such documents as he may reasonably require for conducting an examination under this section and shall be entitled to
require from any person holding or being accountable for any such document such information and explanation as he
considers reasonably necessary for that purpose.

(3) Subsection (2) applies only to documents in the custody and control of the Ombudsman.
(4) The Director of Audit may report to the President of the Legislative Council the results of an examination

conducted by him under this section.
(5) Subsection (1) shall not operate to entitle the Director of Audit to question the merits of the policy

objectives of the Ombudsman.

5. Exemption from taxation


(1) The Ombudsman shall be exempt from taxation under the Inland Revenue Ordinance (Cap 112).
(2) For the avoidance of doubt, it is declared that subsection (1) does not apply to or in relation to any salary or

other benefit referred to in section 3(6) of this Ordinance payable out of the general revenue.
(Schedule 1A added 30 of 2001 s. 20)


Schedule: 2 ACTIONS NOT SUBJECT TO INVESTIGATION L.N. 163 of 2013 03/03/2014


[section 8]

1. Any action taken in matters certified by the Chief Executive as affecting security, defence or international
relations (including relations with any international organization) in respect of Hong Kong. (Amended 25 of 1998 s.
2)

2. The commencement or conduct of any proceedings, whether civil or criminal, before a court of law or tribunal in
Hong Kong, including any decision whether or not to prosecute any person for an offence.

3. Any exercise of the power by the Chief Executive to pardon persons convicted of criminal offences or commute
their penalties. (Replaced 25 of 1998 s. 2)

4. Any action taken in relation to contractual or other commercial transactions but excluding procedures adopted in
inviting tenders, determining the qualification of persons entitled to tender and the selection of the successful tenderer.

5. Any action taken in respect of appointments or removals, pay, conditions of service, discipline, pension,
superannuation or other personnel matters, in relation to-

(a) service in any office or employment under the Government or under any organization; or
(b) service in any office, or under any contract for services, in respect of which power to take action, or to

determine or approve the action to be taken, in such matters is vested in the Chief Executive or any
organization. (Amended 44 of 1994 s. 18; 25 of 1998 s. 2)


6. The grant of honours, awards or privileges within the gift of the Government. (Amended 25 of 1998 s. 2)

7. Any action taken personally by the Chief Executive. (Amended 25 of 1998 s. 2)

8. Any decision concerning the imposition or variation of any condition of granting, extending or renewing any
interest in Government land. (Added 44 of 1994 s. 18. Amended 25 of 1998 s. 2; 29 of 1998 s. 105)



Cap 397 - THE OMBUDSMAN ORDINANCE 15


9. Any action taken in relation to the Hong Kong Codes on Takeovers and Mergers and Share Buy-backs issued by
the Securities and Futures Commission. (Added 44 of 1994 s. 18. Amended 28 of 2012 ss. 912 & 920)

10. Any action taken by the Independent Commission Against Corruption, the Hong Kong Auxiliary Police Force or
the Hong Kong Police Force in relation to the prevention, detection or investigation of any crime or offence, whether
or not the action is taken solely by any one of these organizations, or jointly by more than one of these organizations
or by any one or more of them together with any other organizations or persons. (Added 74 of 1996 s. 10. Amended
25 of 1998 s. 2)

(Enacted 1988)

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