As the HKIS Scale of Fees was abolished on 19 September 2016, there is no longer a yardstick to measure what a “reasonable” fee is for members performing professional works.
Representatives from GPD Council and Working Group on Competition Ordinance met with officials from the Acquisition Section of Lands Department (“LandsD”) and Competition Commission (“CC”) on 4 January 2017. Although, Government departments are supposed to be exempted from the Competition Ordinance, the Government made a pledge in Legislative Council to abide by the competition guidelines. Thus, CC is of the opinion that the LandsD should not publish a Scale of Fees despite lawyers having a Scale of Fees for providing legal aid services.
LandsD has declined to consider issuing any guidelines on fees, notwithstanding we cited potential difficulties that will be encountered by affected parties, as surveyors can no longer determine what “reasonable” fees should be reimbursed by the Government. Surveyors will therefore be exposed to uncertainty as it will be difficult to know what LandsD views as a “reasonable” fee. The absence of a yardstick will burden affected claimants, owners and surveyors from the LandsD when assessing fee claims. Moreover, Lands Tribunal will be burdened with cases in determining “reasonable” fees if disputes proceed to litigation.
This is all against the spirit of the Resumption Ordinance as affected parties will not be given the best professional service and surveyors could be further penalized if the fee claim is considered “unreasonable” for whatever reason. It is evident that without a Scale of Fees, it will affect all related parties and it will lead to much confusion. The GPD Council finds the situation most unsatisfactory.
The objective of this forum is to present our previous discussions with LandsD and gather views from the members, which will be submitted to the Government. Members who have experience in resumption or disturbance claims are particularly encouraged to attend.