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Caution issued on recovery agents, says the Department of Justice

The Department of Justice warns the public to beware of touting activities by recovery agents advertising their services in helping clients handle claims for accident compensation on a "no win, no charge" basis.

It warned today such activities can constitute offences of champerty and maintenance, and there is concern the interest of the victims of personal injury cases may be jeopardised as their legal rights to compensation may not be fully protected.

The caution was issued today after Police arrested 21 people for champerty and maintenance offences across Hong Kong July 3, charging two with conspiracy to commit maintenance, champerty and conspiracy to commit champerty.

The department said people injured in accidents, including employees injured at work and traffic accident victims, should seek proper legal advice from solicitors or the Legal Aid, Labour or Social Welfare Departments.

In their advertisements the recovery agents claim they will help injured people pursue claims for a fee chargeable only when they are successful in recovering damages. However, pursuant to agreements, the victims would have to pay the agents a substantial portion of the compensation obtained from the defendants.

Unlawfully maintaining or sharing the profits of legal proceedings can be a crime subject to jail terms and fines.

A new announcement of public interest will be broadcast on all television and radio stations from tomorrow to remind people to be aware of these unlawful activities.