News & Knowledge

Hong Kong’s Court of Final Appeal makes final ruling
on the ‘Letter of No Consent’ scheme
– a welcoming decision for fraud victims

香港終審法院就「不同意處理書」作出最終裁決

19/04/2024

In Hong Kong, there has long been a regime known as ‘Letter of No Consent’ (“LNC”).

In the event that a bank account is suspected by the police of being involved in receiving proceeds of crime (for example, receiving monies from a fraud), the ‘Joint Financial Intelligence Unit’ (“JFIU”) (a branch of the Hong Kong Police and Customs and Excise Department) has the power to issue an LNC on the bank where the account is held, and the target bank account will be frozen as a result.

The LNC regime, albeit a silver lining to those who have been wronged, has been repeatedly challenged by bank account holders in recent years. Concerns as to the implications of the LNC regime on Articles 6 and 10 of the Basic Law (right to property), Article 10 (right to fair hearing) and Article 14 of the Bill of Rights (right to private and family life) have been raised in Interush Ltd v Commissioner of Police, and most notably the series of legal battles in Tam Sze Leung & Ors v Commissioner of Police.

In Tam Sze Leung, the Court of Final Appeal was asked to rule on whether the JFIU has been exercising the power bestowed upon them legally and constitutionally in issuing the LNC to freeze bank accounts which they find suspicious.

On 10 April 2024, the Court of Final Appeal handed down a resounding affirmative answer – the issuance of LNC is legal and constitutional, and that such restriction to the account holders (i.e. freezing of accounts) is proportionate to the fundamental rights. The decision, which is final, is a welcoming one for victims as the LNC regime remains a powerful tool to assist them in recovering their stolen assets.

We must reiterate that having the LNC alone is not sufficient, it provides a temporary solution and gives the victim some time to seek advice from lawyers. Ultimately, the victim must still issue legal proceedings and obtain judgment in order to recover the funds – the police has no power, right or obligation to recover the funds for the victim.

在香港,我們長久以來有一個被稱為「不同意處理書」的機制。

當警方或銀行懷疑某個帳戶涉及犯罪所得的金錢 (例如收取由詐騙所得的金錢)其後,由香港警務處和香港海關聯合運作的「聯合財富情報組」便有權向銀行發出「不同意處理書」,使致相關銀行帳戶被凍結。

儘管這個機制對於那些財產被侵害的人來說似乎是一線希望,在近年卻被銀行帳戶持有人在本港法庭層面上一再提出質疑和挑戰。當中的爭議牽涉到有在Interush Ltd v Commissioner of Police [2019] HKCA 70中討論過的《基本法》第六條和第十條(財產權)、第十條(公平聽證權),以及《人權法案》第十四條(私人和家庭生活權)等憲法的影響;以及是近幾年來一而再、再而三地在各階級法院被反覆辯證的Tam Sze Leung & Ors v Commissioner of Police一案。

Tam Sze Leung此案中,終審法院須要就:透過簽發「不同意處理書」來凍結他們認為存有可疑的銀行帳戶,究竟聯合財富情報組是否一直在合法和合憲地行使賦予他們的權力。

2024年4月10日,香港終審法院在Tam Sze Leung & Ors v Commissioner of Police一案的終極上訴中給出了肯定的最後答案 — 由警方向銀行發出「不同意處理書」一事上份屬合法,而且未有違背任何憲法;其施加在銀行帳戶持有人的這種限制(即凍結帳戶)與其基本人權相稱。此終極決定對詐財案受害人來說是一個受歡迎的決定,全因「不同意處理書」的機制仍然是幫助他們追回被騙取的財產的強大工具。

惟我們必須要重申,單單有「不同意處理書」的存在並不足夠,它只是提供了一個臨時解決方案,並給受害人一些時間尋求律師的建議。最終,受害人仍必須發起法律訴訟並獲得法庭判令才能追回金錢: 警方並沒有權力、權利或義務為受害者討回金錢。

2024-04-23T10:23:47+08:00