Course Outline 2016/17

Matrimonial Practice & Procedure 2017/18

PCLL 8103  

Matrimonial Practice & Procedure Elective is run ‘on-line’ from www.keithhotten.net

All the course materials for LGs and SGs including most authorities will be available to read and download directly from this site.

The new (2nd Edition) course textbook, specifically written with this course in mind, is available: Family Law Practice and Procedure in Hong Kong and should be in the HKU bookshop.

The course is intended to prepare students for a traineeship or pupillage in matrimonial law and to give an introduction to, general areas of practice and procedure. It is not intended to turn out ‘competent’ family practitioners in 40 hours. For that, you will require several years of further training and a lot of hard work (some say, to become an ‘expert’, possibly 10,000 hours[1]).

Like all areas of legal practice the development of legal skills and knowledge of the law is a continuing process and I would certainly include myself after 27 years at the Bar. The course is intended to bring you to a level of ‘competence’ and you should expect, by the end of the course, to feel confident to enter into matrimonial practice as a solicitor trainee or as a barrister in pupillage.

The Course will cover the substantive areas of family law and practice in the Family Court (District Court) and in the High Court in Hong Kong. All 40 hours of the course are examinable and students should attend both LGs (knowledge) and SGs (skills) to complete the course.

Because most of the SGs involve working in pairs, acting as lawyers for either the Husband or Wife, it is important you make an effort to be on time. Students who are late will very often be letting down a student ‘pair’. The course outline is not yet fixed (I try to slightly vary the emphasis each year) but the LG/SG batting order will run something like the following:

  • Introduction Marriage & Divorce in Hong Kong
  • Nullity of Marriage & Judicial Separation
  • Children I: Child Advocacy & CDR Rules
  • Ancillary Relief I: FDR
  • Children II: Custody Care & Control
  • Ancillary Relief II: Post White v White
  • Wardship & Hague Conventions (Child Abduction)
  • Financial Provision for Children & Prenuptial Agreements
  • Child Abuse, Domestic Violence & Draft 2015 Bill for Parental Responsibility
  • Revision LG & SG

Understanding and developing legal practice skills in the family court is the paramount objective of the course. Lectures (2-hour LGs) will cover the ‘knowledge and procedure’ component but as all assessments are ‘open-book’, the course will be principally taught (and assessed) using practical exercises in small group sessions (2-hour SGs). This will include client conferencing, negotiation, written advice, drafting together with an introduction to mediation and Hague rules.

Unlike general civil litigation, students must learn to adopt the very specific approach of the family courts to resolving matrimonial disputes, particularly where young children are involved.

The format of the Examination(s) for 2016/2017 will be ‘open-book’ and in two parts, each weighted at 50%. Students must pass overall in any oral and written assessments. The pass mark is 50% in each part. A final overall grade of Competent; Very Competent or Outstanding will be awarded – Not Yet Competent will be a fail grade.

No prior legal knowledge of family law will be assumed. However, students will be expected to familiarize themselves with the general statutory framework viz: the High Court Rules, the relevant parts of the District Court Rules. In particular students must familiarize themselves with the Matrimonial Causes Ordinance (Cap 179) and all the relevant Practice Directions (15.1 ff) – all are on my website. 

Course Textbook & Reading

  • Keith Hotten Family Law Practice & Procedure in Hong Kong, (2nd Edition)LexisNexis, June 2015. ISBN 978-9888-3012-56
  • All relevant Authorities will be clearly indicated in my written notes on my website and will be deemed to have been read by the time of the final exams.

Supplementary Texts (Practitioner’s Works) – available in the Law Library

  • Keith Hotten Hong Kong Family Court Practice, (2nd Edition) LexisNexis 2015, ISBN 978-9888-3001-29 – this book contains all relevant statues and PDs as well as many of the Forms and other materials used in practice.
  • Rayden and Jackson on Divorce and Family Matters (7 Vols), LexisNexis (Library Only) – this (UK) multi-volume text is the ‘gold-standard’ on Matrimonial law and ancillary relief – but remember HK is light years behind UK on Children law so caution should be applied in reading anything on the Children Act, which (sometimes) offers guidance here, but does not apply in HK.

Dr. Keith Hotten

Faculty of Law

(Version: October, 2017)

[1] Malcolm Gladwell “Outliers” 2008