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Hong Kong retail arbitration centre planned

A planned Hong Kong retail arbitration centre would allow shoppers to resolve disputes with retailers – without the need for expensive court proceedings.
Hong Kong’s Consumer Council has recommended the government establish and fund a Consumer Dispute Resolution Centre, modelled on a system used in Macau and Portugal which favours mediation before arbitration.
“Hong Kong is more than ready to put in place such a ­consumer dispute resolution ­centre,” said Samuel Chan Ka-yan, chairman of the council’s legal protection committee.
“The resources of the courts could be better used to deal with needier cases,” he said.
The council has recommended a cap of HK$200,000 on any claim and says the forum would allow people to seek redress without the prohibitive legal costs of lodging a legal challenge through the courts.
The centre would be staffed by arbitrators paid an honorarium and consumers and retailers would be chosen from a government-approved pool.
Chan says there is clear demand for such a service amongst consumers, with about 5000 cases reported to the watchdog unresolved during the last four years – largely because consumers could not afford to pursue their case. Some 97 per cent of disputes involved sums of less than $50,000.
The Department of Justice says it will discuss the proposal with the council, adding that it has long favoured mediation ahead of court proceedings.

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