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No timetable for Land Law changes: Chan

Secretary for Administration and Justice Sonia Chan Hoi Fan said Monday the government was studying the various issues possibly resulting from the implementation of the current Land Law that took effect several years ago.

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UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 5:46 am

Secretary for Administration and Justice Sonia Chan Hoi Fan said Monday the government was studying the various issues possibly resulting from the implementation of the current Land Law that took effect several years ago.

However, Chan was quick to add that there was no timetable for the government to propose amendments to the Land Law.
The Land Law – as any other law – can only be changed by the Legislative Assembly (AL).

Chan made the remarks while speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a committee meeting in the Legislative Assembly (AL).

According to local media reports earlier this month, some local property developers have recently been pressing the government to propose amendments to the Land Law so that provisional land concessions are allowed to be renewed after their expiration – under certain circumstances.

The Land Law, which was passed by the legislature in August 2013, stipulates that provisional land concessions cannot be renewed upon their expiration if their leaseholders fail to finish developing the respective plots of land within a maximum concession period of 25 years. The law came into force in March 2014.

Since the Land Law took effect, some representatives in the local real estate sector and some lawmakers have repeatedly urged the government to amend the Land Law so that expired provisional land concessions could be renewed by the government if their leaseholders are not to blame for their failure to finish developing the respective plots of land within the maximum concession period.

Earlier this month, some local media outlets quoted informed sources as speculating that Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai On will announce during a Q&A session in the legislature on Thursday that the government plans to propose amendments to the Land Law.

Speaking to reporters, Chan said that the government was listening to opinions from various segments of civil society concerning the various problems possibly resulting from the implementation of the current Land Law.

Chan said that the government was still studying the matter and that there was no timetable for the government to propose a Land Law amendment bill.

When asked by the media whether Chui would announce anything concerning possible Land Law amendments during Thursday’s Q&A session in the legislature’s hemicycle, Chan merely said that “everyone can see at that time”.

The Court of Final Appeal (TUI) said in a ruling in May that the government must annul a site’s provisional land concession if the developer cannot obtain the government’s occupancy permit for the residential project on the site – i.e. the developer fails to finish developing the plot – before its provisional land concession expires, regardless of whether the developer or the government is to blame for the former’s failure to finish developing the plot. This ruling turned down an appeal by the developer of the ill-fated Pearl Horizon residential project against the government’s cancellation of the site’s provisional land concession.

The ill-fated residential construction project has been mothballed since December 2015 when its provisional land concession expired. The government then announced the annulment of the site’s provisional land concession in January 2016. Polytex, the developer, then sued the government over the land concession’s cancellation.

UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 5:46 am

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