COVID-19 has created unforeseen challenges to businesses all over the world, resulting in many companies being unable to survive the pandemic. Hong Kong has been no exception. In Hong Kong, according to data published by the Hong Kong Government’s Official Receiver’s Office, in the first seven months of the year, 5219 compulsory bankruptcy petitions and 247 compulsory winding-up petitions were presented, representing 13.7% and 5.1% year-on-year increase respectively. The effect of COVID-19 may yet be fully reflected by these figures.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, we have seen an overwhelming demand worldwide for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), which includes respirators, surgical masks, gloves and face shields. Regrettably, unscrupulous traders never miss an opportunity to capitalise on public fears and concerns. Amid these difficult times, there has been a surge of fraud schemes associated with PPE transactions all around the globe. In Hong Kong, over 1,600 reports of online mask scams were received by the Hong Kong Police between January and March this year, consisting of more than 3,000 individual victims and local companies involving a total of HK$48.2 million. It has also been reported that fraudulent mask schemes totalling US$799 million were uncovered in United States in the last few months, and similar patterns have been observed across the Europe.
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Hong Kong Courts were closed for several months and thousands of court hearings were adjourned during this General Adjourned Period (“GAP”). Although the Family Court has now reopened there are social distancing measures in place which mean that hearings are continuing to be adjourned. We expect this to be the ‘new normal’ for some time to come.
The Government has announced the much-awaited implementation details of the ESS along with the penalties in case of breach of undertakings. Our most recent update on the details of the ESS can be viewed here.
The Government has recently provided more clarity on the Employment Support Scheme (“ESS”) and expanded its scope.
COVID-19 has created unforeseen challenges for businesses all over the world with an impact so far-reaching that several organisations are no longer able to survive. Governments have swiftly enacted relief measures but the financial consequences of the pandemic on businesses is unprecedented. Some common law jurisdictions have created new insolvency law measures to tackle the uphill struggle businesses face, but what rescue options are available in Hong Kong?
The Finance Committee of the Legislative Council has approved the anti-epidemic relief fund of HK$ 137.5 billion which includes about HK$81 billion for an Employment Support Scheme (“ESS”). The purpose of the ESS is to provide financial assistance in exchange for employers undertaking to retain their employees who could otherwise be laid-off or made redundant.
The COVID-19 situation has caused increasing financial and operational difficulties for businesses. Various employers have either asked employees to take unpaid leave and/or annual leave during this period. This practice note examines the legal requirements for asking employees to take unpaid leave and/or annual leave.
In an effort to alleviate the financial difficulties as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Hong Kong Government has announced proposed relief measures which include a HK$ 80 billion Employment Support Scheme (“ESS”).
Gall recently acted for the Plaintiff in Hong Kong’s first telephonic hearing in Cyberworks Audio Video Technology Limited v Mei Ah (HK) Company Limited & Ors which was a milestone in the Judiciary’s approach towards furthering the objectives of cost-effectiveness of practice and procedure, and expeditious dispute resolution. In this matter, Gall’s senior partner Nick Gall and senior associate Felda Yeung acted for the plaintiff. Please refer to our article on this unprecedented approach to case management during GAP here.