The Journalist Protection Fund aims to provide financial support to journalists facing legal proceedings or other difficulties as a result of their work.
1. The majority of an applicant’s income from journalistic work. Journalistic work is defined as employment in Hong Kong or for news media based in Hong Kong as a journalist, photographer, artist or other positions at newspapers, periodicals, magazines, domestic and international news agencies, radio, television or digital news platforms; as a full time freelancer (those who have worked as a freelance journalist for at least one year consecutively, or those who can supply proof issued by a media outlet or other institutions attesting that they are receiving income from journalism, or that they are freelancing during an interim period after leaving a permanent position at a news organisation); or as a person employed in the training of journalists before or after they’ve entered the industry;
2. The applicant is not required to be an HKJA member;
3. The applicant is facing financial needs related to legal proceedings or other difficulties resulting from journalistic work in Hong Kong or abroad.
Scope of Application
1. Legal expenses: including, but not limited to, filing judicial reviews, filing or responding to civil or criminal litigation, small claims, applications for injunctions and appeals related to such judicial proceedings, etc.
1.1. The amount of financial support for these legal expenses shall be determined on a case-by-case basis, based on the HKJA’s legal advice and the availability of other forms of financial assistance to the applicant. The subsidy may cover the full or partial amount of the expenses.
1.2. Upon completion of the legal proceedings, the applicant is required to provide proof of expenses and return any unused funding to the fund.
1.3. The details of funding for various legal expenses are as follows:
1.3.1. Assistance in relation to criminal cases:
188.8.131.52. Arrest assistance: The Fund may provide no more than $5,000 to every successful applicant. If the expense exceeds this ceiling, the ExCom may review the case and decide whether to extend the grant.
184.108.40.206. Legal advice after bail is granted or refused: applicants may receive a one-off grant of $6,000 to cover legal costs. Applicants may also apply for a loan from the Fund to pay for bail. The loan must be paid back to the Fund in full after the bail money is released.
220.127.116.11. Court mention: The Fund may provide not more than $6,000 (half day) or $12,000 for each solicitor or counsel representing the defendant in court.
18.104.22.168. High Court bail application: if applicants were refused bail by the Magistrate’s Court, they may apply to the High Court for bail. This application usually requires a barrister. Applicants may be granted no more than $10,000 for lawyers and no more than $20,000 for barristers.
22.214.171.124. Legal visits in custody: if applicants require lawyers’ visits while in custody, they may be granted no more than $1,500 per hour of visitation time plus any reasonable travel time.
126.96.36.199. Hearings: Applicants are advised to hire duty lawyer services or apply for legal aid before applying for the Fund, so that the resources of the Fund can be reserved for those who are unable to apply for legal aid.
188.8.131.52.1. Contribution required under the Legal Aid Scheme: if applicants are approved for legal aid, they may apply for a loan from the Fund to cover the contribution required under the Legal Aid Scheme. Applicants must repay the loan once the case is over. If applicants’ legal aid application is rejected, or if they are not able to accept legal aid due to special reasons, they may apply for a grant from the Fund to cover legal fees based on the legal fee level of the Legal Aid Department.
184.108.40.206.2. Appeal against legal aid decision: If the applicant is denied legal aid, they may file an appeal to the Legal Aid Department. They may apply for a grant from the Fund to cover the appeal’s legal cost.
220.127.116.11. Special needs: Apart from the above-mentioned items, there may be other special circumstances where the applicant may need legal services and financial assistance, such as filing a complaint to the Police Complaints Division or the IPCC, or reporting criminal violations to the police in the presence of a lawyer. The applicant may apply for financial support from the Fund to cover these legal expenses, and the calculated amount is similar to that stated in 18.104.22.168.
1.3.2. Financial assistance in civil claims or judicial review: The Fund will consider these applications on a case-by-case basis. The Fund can provide financial assistance to an applicant seeking legal advice on the chances of winning the case and other related expenses (such as medical examination reports). The applicant (or their attorney) may have to supply an estimate of the legal costs in advance. The Fund will seek legal advice on the case and consider whether to grant assistance, the scale and method of the grant, such as whether to initiate fundraising activities specifically for the case.
2. Other financial Assistance: Applicants may receive $3,000 per month for a total of three months.
1. Applicants are required to provide basic information such as proof of employment and qualifications in written format, as well as details of the incident, including date, time, venue, and description of the incident, and any relevant visual proof and documentation. The applicant should also provide an estimate of legal cost where relevant, and declare whether they have applied for or arranged other financial assistance.
2. After an initial verification of the information supplied by the applicant, a grant application shall only be considered after it has been approved by the majority of the Executive Committee members of the HKJA.
3. For grant applications to cover legal expenses, the HKJA will seek legal advice after the Executive Committee has approved for the case to be considered.
4. The applicant is required to submit proof of their income and assets, as well as to meet with HKJA’s legal advisor to provide extra information if required.
5. If the legal advisor considers that there is sufficient evidence or legal basis for the legal case to proceed, the advisor may make a recommendation to the Executive Committee.
6. For other financial assistance, the Executive Committee may call for a meeting with the applicant and ask them to submit documents based on their financial situation and other considerations.
7. An application shall be reviewed by the Executive Committee within a month after receiving the application. Final approval of the application requires two-third of the votes from the members of the Executive Committee.
8. A grant to cover legal expenses will be disbursed according to the progress of the case; for financial assistance, applicants whose applications have been granted may receive an allowance for up to three consecutive months. They may reapply for further allowance by submitting a new application to the Executive Committee after the expiration of the assistance period.
Terms and Conditions
1. The Executive Committee has the discretion to grant or reject applications and may take into account, among other factors, the circumstances surrounding an applicant’s financial situation.
2. If the Fund is dissolved for any reason in the future, the balance of the Fund will be donated to non-profit organisations.
3. The HKJA Executive Committee reserves the power to make a final decision and interpretation on whether to approve any application. Any controversy on the Journalist Protection Fund shall be decided by the HKJA Executive Committee at its sole discretion.