Assembly denies absence of lawyers in administrative litigation

Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Issue 517, Page 4
Word count: 541
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

The revision of the Code of Administrative Litigation proposed by two lawmakers to abolish the use of lawyers in less complicated appeals was rejected at the Legislative Assembly yesterday.

The current Code of Administrative Litigation regulates that a lawyer must be entrusted by the person who wanted the upper court to review his or her accusations and penalties received.

Au Kam San and Ng Kuok Cheong, who submitted the bill for plenary discussion at the Assembly, said the revision was prompted by “the increasing number of administrative violation cases in Macau that involved only a small amount of fines”, and also was to provide an alternative for the public in cases such as where their financial abilities could not afford them hiring a lawyer.

It was because legal fees would usually cost “much higher” than the fines themselves, Au and Ng added.

Thus, the lawmakers proposed the introduction of “simplified proceedings” extracted from civil litigation to the Code of Administrative Litigation so that people who were fined less than 50,000 patacas resulted from any administrative violations could file an appeal without necessarily needing to entrust a lawyer for the legal proceedings.

Administrative violations include most of the traffic offences regulated by the Road and Traffic Law that came into effect in October 2007.

On the other hand, Au and Ng pointed out that in the 2/93/M law decree relating to the right of assembly and the right to protest, Article 12 stated that organisers could “directly” file an appeal, without necessarily entrusting an agency, to the Court of Second Instance within eight days after being notified that their activities would be restricted or were disapproved by authorities.

However, the lawmakers said such a system was based on the Judicial Organisation Act which was later abolished.

Thus, Au and Ng said it was “essential” to set up a “simple and direct” way of appeals in the existing Code of Administrative Litigation, or otherwise legal fees arising from hiring a lawyer would become an “obstacle” for assembly or protest organisers.

During the plenary meeting at the Legislative Assembly yesterday, most of the attending lawmakers were supportive to simplifying administrative proceedings, but said that they could not overlook “technical problems in the legal aspect”.

Legal advisors of the Assembly also said that administrative lawsuits referred to appellants who deemed administrative authorities had mistakes in handling cases which related to the issue of “the legitimacy of the law” and were on a “different level” of civil litigation.

As well, without lawyers’ assistance, appellants’ interests might not be maximised, the legal advisors said.

Apart from Au Kam San, Ng Kuok Cheong and Jose Pereira Coutinho who voted in favour of the bill, 13 lawmakers denied the proposal while eight abstained from voting.

At the same time, lawmakers also declined the proposal of Au Kam San to organise a debate on whether the SAR government, in the view of “worsening flooding in low-lying areas”, should re-evaluate the 398 hectare reclamation project in north Taipa which would fill up one thirds of the waters between the Macau Peninsula and Taipa.

A majority of lawmakers said they were not “experts” to give any opinions about the topic, and were not convinced that correlation existed between reclamation and flood threats.

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