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Debt Recovery/ Loan repayment

Brazilian Real

If someone owes you money but refuses to pay or breaches of commercial contract, you may start a civil action to recover a debt or ask for compensation. There is a deadline for starting a civil action against another. A civil action for debt recovery or breach of a commercial contract must be instituted within 6 years from the date on which the breach of contract happened according to the Limitation OrdinanceCap. 347 of the Laws of Hong Kong. Below are 3 procedural steps:

1. Issuing legal demand letter

The first step is to issue a demand letter to the debtor (or the defaulting party) to request for rectification, compensation or repayment (as the case may be) within a certain period of time (usually ranges from 7 to 14 days). The letter will state how much money the debtor owes you and what it is for, and warn the debtor that if he does not repay you by the specified date, you will take legal action against him. To avoid bearing legal cost in litigation, this warning will often be effective in getting the debtor to repay you. If the debtor is willing to repay, you do not have go to the court and can save money and time in bringing and concluding a civil action. If the debtor is willing to repay but is not able to pay off the entire debt at once, you may negotiate with him for settlement by instalments.

If the debtor still refuses to repay after receiving the demand letter, the demand letter and any reply record from the debtor can be used  as evidence when you go the court.

2. Go to court to start the claim

Start a lawsuit in the appropriate court depending on the nature of the claim and the amount involved.

  • Small Claims Tribunal for claims for money not exceeding $75,000. Parties to the disputes are not allowed to have lawyers in actions heard. but they may consult a lawyer before attending the tribunal.

  • District Court for amount of claims over $75,000 but not more than $3 million. 

  • High Court for amount of claims over $75,000 but not more than $3 million. 


The legal procedure involved in civil action is quite complicated. The plaintiff has to apply for the court to issue a writ of summons or an originating summons, which has to be served to the defendant. It may also involve matters like exchanging evidence, trying to agree on the reports to be used, and preparing witness statements, etc. It may therefore be preferable to get lawyer help.

3. Enforcing the court judgement

The court never enforces a judgment for the winning party on its own initiative. Therefore, even if you win a civil action and obtain a court judgment in your favour which awards you all sums which you have claimed, the debtor may still refuse to recover all the sums that have been awarded by the court. The usual options available for enforcing a court judgement including:

  • Apply for a prohibition order prohibiting the judgment debtor from leaving Hong Kong

  • Apply for a garnishee order to attach or freeze the sums of money which belong to the judgment debtor in his bank account

  • Apply for a charging order may be considered imposing on property of the judgment debtor

  • Commence a bankruptcy case to the judgment debtor

Our law firm can help you with going through the above processes, offering legal advice and handling the required documents, so as to secure your interests and resolve your dispute. Talk to us for legal advice.

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