Frequently Asked Questions

The following abbreviations are used in the Frequently Asked Questions on this website:
  1. "The Ordinance" means the Private Columbaria Ordinance (Cap.630);
  2. "Appeal Board" means the Private Columbaria Appeal Board established under section 83(1) of the Ordinance;
  3. "The Rules" means the Rules on Practice and Procedure of the Appeal Board made pursuant to section 91(1) of the Ordinance;
  4. "Appeal" means an appeal lodged by an applicant or a holder of a specified instrument aggrieved by any of the decisions made by the Private Columbaria Licensing Board or the Director of Food and Environmental Hygiene referred to in section 84(1) of the Ordinance.
  5. "Appellant" means an applicant or a holder of a specified instrument lodging an appeal, as the case may be;
  6. "Licensing Board" means the Private Columbaria Licensing Board established under section 8(1) of the Ordinance;
  7. "Director" means the Director of Food and Environmental Hygiene;
  8. "Respondent" means the Licensing Board or the Director, as the case may be;
  9. "Specified Instrument" means a licence, an exemption or a temporary suspension of liability; and
  10. "Secretary" means the secretary to the Appeal Board pursuant to section 83(6).
 
  1. About the Appeal Board
    1. What is the composition of the Appeal Board panel?
    2. How many panel members are involved for hearing each appeal?
  1. Lodging of Appeal
    1. Who can lodge an appeal?
    2. If under section 14(6) of the Ordinance, the Licensing Board refuses to consider an out-of-time application for a specified instrument in respect of a pre-cut-off columbarium (submitted to it after 29 March 2018), can the applicant lodge an appeal to the Appeal Board?
    3. How to lodge an appeal?
    4. What to do if amendments or additions to a Notice of Appeal are required after their submission?
  1. Time Limit
    1. Is there a time limit for lodging an appeal?
    2. Can one apply for an extension of time to lodge an appeal?
    3. How to calculate the 21-day appeal period? Will public holidays and inclement weather be included?
    4. If documents or notices are served on the Appeal Board by different means, will their dates of service or submission deadlines be different?
    5. If an applicant for a licence who is not in Hong Kong when the Notice of Decision is given by the Licensing Board cannot personally lodge a Notice of Appeal within the 21-day period, what should the applicant do?
  1. Service of Documents
    1. Under rule 5 of the Rules, an appellant who seeks to reply to a respondent’s response must serve a statement in reply (“the Reply”) on the respondent after filing it with the secretary. Why should the appellant be required to serve the Reply on the respondent by himself or herself? Why couldn’t the secretary forward it to the respondent?
    2. While the appeal document filed with the Appeal Board was personally sent by the appellant at a post office, it was later discovered that the postmark on the document was postdated after his or her visit to the post office. In this case, which date will the Appeal Board use in the computation of time?
  1. Hearing
    1. How will an appellant know about the date of an appeal hearing?
    2. What language will be used at an appeal hearing?
    3. Can an appellant nominate a representative to act on his or her behalf in the appeal proceedings?
    4. If the appellant fails to attend the appeal hearing at the scheduled time, can the Appeal Board proceed with the hearing?
    5. If the appellant is unable to attend the appeal hearing at the scheduled time, can he or she apply for postponement of the hearing?
  1. Observation of Hearings
    1. Can members of the public observe the Appeal Board’s hearings?
    2. How to reserve a seat for observing a hearing?
    3. Any attire code for those who come to observe a hearing?
    4. May audience bring young children to the audience room?
  1. Decision
    1. How long will it take to process an appeal up to the issue of decision?
    2. How will an appellant know about the decision of the Appeal Board?
    3. What power does the Appeal Board have in respect of the decision?
    4. What can a person, including the appellant, who is aggrieved by the decision of the Appeal Board do?
 
  1. About the Appeal Board
  1. What is the composition of the Appeal Board panel?

    There are at present 26 panel members on the Appeal Board, including 1 Chairperson, 3 Deputy Chairpersons and 22 other members. The Chairperson, Deputy Chairpersons and some of the members are qualified for appointment as a District Judge. The panel members come from various professional disciplines and possess experience in participating in public and community services (including serving on other appeal boards/tribunals).
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  2. How many panel members are involved for hearing each appeal?

    For the purpose of hearing an appeal, the Appeal Board consists of a presiding officer, who is to preside at the hearing, and 4 panel members selected by the presiding officer. Under section 83 and 85 of the Ordinance, a presiding officer must be the Chairperson/a Deputy Chairperson/a panel member of the Appeal Board who is qualified for appointment as a District Judge. The Chairperson/a Deputy Chairperson/a panel member must not act as presiding officer if he or she has a direct or indirect interest in an appeal. The presiding officer must not select a panel member to hear an appeal if the member has a direct or indirect interest in the appeal.
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  1. Lodging of Appeal
  1. Who can lodge an appeal?

    An applicant or a holder of a specified instrument aggrieved by any of the decisions made by the Licensing Board or the Director referred to in section 84(1) of the Ordinance may lodge an appeal to the Appeal Board.
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  2. If under section 14(6) of the Ordinance, the Licensing Board refuses to consider an out-of-time application for a specified instrument in respect of a pre-cut-off columbarium (submitted to it after 29 March 2018), can the applicant lodge an appeal to the Appeal Board?
     

    Applicants or holders of specified instruments can lodge an appeal to the Appeal Board against the decisions made by the Licensing Board or the Director referred to in section 84(1) of the Ordinance.

     

    A decision made under section 14(6) of the Ordinance is not one of the decisions listed in section 84(1) of the Ordinance. Therefore, if an out-of-time application is refused by the Licensing Board, the applicant cannot lodge an appeal to the Appeal Board.

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  3. How to lodge an appeal?
     

    One should lodge a Notice of Appeal, in writing and in the specified form, with the Appeal Board. The Notice of Appeal must:

    (a) set out the grounds of the appeal and the facts on which the appeal relies;

    (b) be accompanied by copies of the documents (if any) that are intended to be relied on; and

    (c) include particulars of the witnesses (if any) intended to be called at the appeal hearing.

    One may submit the completed Notice of Appeal to the Appeal Board by one or more of the following means, addressed to “the secretary to the Private Columbaria Appeal Board” ─

    (a) By hand: The addresses and office hours are as follows ─

    The secretary to the Private Columbaria Appeal Board
    11/F, THE HUB, 23 Yip Kan Street, Wong Chuk Hang, Hong Kong
    Office hours:
    Monday to Friday (except public holidays)
    8:45 am to 1:00 pm and 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm

    (b) By post: [Post box no. 1106] at the above address 

    (c) By fax: Fax no. 2556 2039

    (d) By email: secretariat@pcab.hk

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  4. What to do if amendments or additions to a Notice of Appeal are required after their submission?

    The appellant applying to amend the Notice of Appeal must submit a written request (identifying the part of the Notice of Appeal to be amended and the proposed amendments) to the presiding officer by filing it with the secretary and serving the same on the respondent. The leave of the presiding officer or the Appeal Board is required for the amendments to the Notice of Appeal. Details are set out in rule 6 of the Rules.
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  1. Time Limit
  1. Is there a time limit for lodging an appeal?

    If one wishes to appeal against a decision set out in section 84(1) of the Ordinance, he or she must lodge an appeal to the Appeal Board within 21 days after the date on which the notice of the decision under appeal is given to him or her.
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  2. Can one apply for an extension of time to lodge an appeal?
     

    There is no provision under the Ordinance for an extension of the 21-day period to lodge a Notice of Appeal.

     

     

    The presiding officer or the Appeal Board may extend or abridge the period within which any party is required or authorised by the Rules (or by any direction or order) to do any act in the appeal, except for the period of lodging a Notice of Appeal (rule 3.1) or a respondent’s response (rule 4.1).

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  3. How to calculate the 21-day appeal period? Will public holidays and inclement weather be included?

    Public holidays, gale warning days or black rainstorm warning days shall be reckoned in the computation of the 21-day appeal period. In addition, under section 71(1)(b) of the Interpretation and General Clauses Ordinance (Cap. 1), if the last day of the period is a public holiday or a gale warning day or black rainstorm warning day, the period shall include the next following day, not being a public holiday or a gale warning day or black rainstorm warning day.
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  4. If documents or notices are served on the Appeal Board by different means, will their dates of service or submission deadlines be different?
     

    Under section 107(2) of the Ordinance, a notice or other document given, issued, notified or served in accordance with section 107(1) of the Ordinance is to be taken, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, to have been given, issued, notified or served:

    (a) if delivered by hand — on the day after the day on which it was so delivered;

    (b) if sent by post — on the second working day after the day on which it was posted;

    (c) if sent by fax transmission — on the day after the day on which it was transmitted; or

    (d) if sent by electronic mail transmission — on the day after the day on which it was transmitted.

    This is applicable to a Notice of Decision issued by the Licensing Board or the Director.

     

    Under section 107(4) of the Ordinance, a notice or other document given, lodged or served in accordance with section 107(3) of the Ordinance is to be taken, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, to have been given, lodged or served:

    (a) if delivered by hand — on the day after the day on which it was so delivered;

    (b) if sent by post — on the second working day after the day on which it was posted;

    (c) if sent by fax transmission — on the day after the day on which it was transmitted; or

    (d) if sent by electronic mail transmission — on the day after the day on which it was transmitted.

    This is applicable to a Notice of Appeal lodged with the Appeal Board.


    Here is a hypothetical case for reference:

    1. It is assumed that a Notice of Decision by the respondent is sent by post (or registered post) on 4 April.
    2. The Notice of Decision is deemed to be issued to the appellant on the second working day (9 April) after posting (4 April) unless there is evidence to the contrary.
    3. To lodge an appeal, a Notice of Appeal must be lodged with the Appeal Board within 21 days (i.e. from 10 April to 30 April) after the date on which the Notice of Decision is issued:
      1. (*) If sent by post (or registered post) — it should be posted no later than 26 April. The Notice of Appeal is deemed to be lodged with the Appeal Board on the second working day after posting (i.e 30 April. See the date marked with (iv) in the calendar) unless there is evidence to the contrary.
      2.  
      3. (#) If delivered by hand or sent by fax / email — it should be delivered or sent no later than 29 April. The Notice of Appeal is deemed to be lodged with the Appeal Board on the following day after it is sent (i.e 30 April. See the date marked with (iv) in the calendar) unless there is evidence to the contrary.
    4. The 21-day period for lodging a Notice of Appeal with the Appeal Board expires on 30 April.
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  5. If an applicant for a licence who is not in Hong Kong when the Notice of Decision is given by the Licensing Board cannot personally lodge a Notice of Appeal within the 21-day period, what should the applicant do?

    If one cannot lodge a Notice of Appeal personally, he or she may authorise a representative to lodge it with the Appeal Board on his or her behalf within the 21-day period as specified in the Ordinance.
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  1. Service of Documents
  1. Under rule 5 of the Rules, an appellant who seeks to reply to a respondent’s response must serve a statement in reply (“the Reply”) on the respondent after filing it with the secretary. Why should the appellant be required to serve the Reply on the respondent by himself or herself? Why couldn’t the secretary forward it to the respondent?

    The filing of the Reply with the Appeal Board and the service of the same on the respondent by the appellant at the same time will expedite the processing of the appeal case. Such a practice is not unique to the Appeal Board. Similar practice is also adopted by some other appeal boards.
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  2. While the appeal document filed with the Appeal Board was personally sent by the appellant at a post office, it was later discovered that the postmark on the document was postdated after his or her visit to the post office. In this case, which date will the Appeal Board use in the computation of time?

    The date shown on the postmark of a document sent by post will be a proof of time for the giving, lodging or service of a notice or other document in the absence of evidence to the contrary. If the appellant can prove it to the contrary, the matter can be brought through the secretary to the presiding officer or the Appeal Board for consideration.
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  1. Hearing
  1. How will an appellant know about the date of an appeal hearing?

    The secretary will notify the parties to an appeal in writing of the date, time and place of the appeal hearing by way of serving a Notice of Hearing at least 42 days before the date fixed for the appeal hearing. Details are set out in rule 19 of the Rules.
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  2. What language will be used at an appeal hearing?

    The hearing of an appeal may be conducted in Chinese or English or both as the Appeal Board thinks fit. If any person wishes to address the Appeal Board in a language other than Chinese, he or she is required to give prior notice to the secretary in writing. Details are set out in rule 25 of the Rules.
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  3. Can an appellant nominate a representative to act on his or her behalf in the appeal proceedings?
     

    Yes. Under section 86(3) of the Ordinance, each party to an appeal may -

     

    (a) appear and be present at the appeal hearing; and

     

    (b) make representations during the hearing or be represented by another person, authorised by the party, in writing, during the hearing.

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  4. If the appellant fails to attend the appeal hearing at the scheduled time, can the Appeal Board proceed with the hearing?
     

    Yes. Under section 86(4) of the Ordinance, if a party to an appeal fails to appear on a date set for the appeal hearing without showing reasonable cause for the failure, an Appeal Board may -

     

    (a) proceed to hear any other party entitled to appear; and

     

    (b) make its decision without hearing the absent party.

     


    The parties to an appeal will be reminded of the above provision through the Notice of Hearing of the appeal to be issued by the secretary.
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  5. If the appellant is unable to attend the appeal hearing at the scheduled time, can he or she apply for postponement of the hearing?
     

    Under rule 1.3 of the Rules, the presiding officer or the Appeal Board may extend a period, which includes the postponement of an appeal hearing.

    To apply for postponement of an appeal hearing, the appellant should submit a prior written request (specifying the proposed extended time with justifications) to the presiding officer for consideration by filing it with the secretary and serving the same on the respondent. A direction or order for extension of time may also be made by consent of the parties given in writing.

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  1. Observation of Hearings
  1. Can members of the public observe the Appeal Board’s hearings?
     

    The hearing of an appeal shall be held in public, save and except otherwise directed or ordered by the presiding officer or the Appeal Board. The practice guide on the observation of hearings is available on the website of the Appeal Board. For details, please click here.

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  2. How to reserve a seat for observing a hearing?
     

    Seats in the audience room are limited. Members of the public shall be admitted to the audience room on the spot on a first-come-first-served basis to observe a hearing to be held in public.

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  3. Any attire code for those who come to observe a hearing?
     

    They are expected to dress appropriately in such a way as not to affect the hearing and other audience.

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  4. May audience bring young children to the audience room?
     

    In order not to affect the hearing and other audience, it is not recommended to bring infants or children to the audience room.

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  1. Decision
  1. How long will it take to process an appeal up to the issue of decision?
     

    The Appeal Board must handle each appeal in a just, fair, impartial and objective manner, observe procedural justice, and make a lawful, reasonable and sensible ruling. Subject to the above pre-requisite, the Appeal Board will endeavour to ensure expeditious and economical conduct of the hearing and determination of each appeal.

    The Ordinance and the Rules set out reasonable time limits on specific procedures of an appeal, such as the lodging of notice of appeal by appellant, filing of response from respondent, and filing of reply from appellant. A party to an appeal may also apply for submission of further particulars in response to the other party’s pleadings. Besides, the time required for scheduling hearings and writing decisions should also be taken into account. Since the actual circumstances and complexity of individual appeals vary, it is difficult to give a timeframe on how long it will take to process an appeal.

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  2. How will an appellant know about the decision of the Appeal Board?
     

    Any decision of the Appeal Board in respect of an appeal must be handed down by the presiding officer in writing with reasons for the decision and the date on which the decision is to take effect. The secretary is to serve a copy of the Appeal Board’s decision on the parties to the appeal as soon as reasonably practicable.

    For details, please refer to rule 27 of the Rules.

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  3. What power does the Appeal Board have in respect of the decision?
     

    Under section 86(11) and (12) of the Ordinance, in determining an appeal, an Appeal Board may confirm, reverse or vary the decision appealed against; substitute its own decision for the decision appealed against; or make any other order that it thinks fit.

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  4. What can a person, including the appellant, who is aggrieved by the decision of the Appeal Board do?
     

    Under section 86(12) of the Ordinance, the decision of an Appeal Board on any appeal is final. However, any party to the appeal may apply to the Court for judicial review against the decision of the Appeal Board.

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