One CLIC to Knowing the Law

One CLIC to Knowing the Law

(from left) Professor Anne Cheung, Dr Kevin Pun and Dr Felix Chan of the CLIC team 
CLIC, YouthCLIC, FamilyCLIC and SeniorCLIC

Legal affairs are often complex and expensive to resolve. For people who have no legal background and who are unsure of their legal rights and obligations, that can be a barrier to further understanding and even to settling disputes. A project by the Faculty of Law is helping to provide answers, one click at a time.

The Community Legal Information Centre (CLIC) website provides free bilingual legal information, written for the lay person. It covers issues that affect the general population, such as divorce and its alternatives, making a will, medical consent, and consumer complaints, and it refers individual cases and queries to the Faculty's Free Legal Advice Scheme.

"Legal issues are everywhere, they are part of daily life," Professor Anne Cheung said. "To a certain extent we are raising awareness and at the same time responding to people's needs. When we have given talks in the community, the mentality of the people asking questions is very much that they want to find out what legal consequences might apply to them."

The website was started in 2007 following debate in the community about the high cost of legal services and the need to provide an affordable legal information service for the public. The government offered funding and the faculty, partnering with the Department of Computer Science, successfully bid for the project.

In 2010 CLIC was invited to expand its remit and target specific groups, leading to the launch of YouthCLIC, SeniorCLIC and most recently, FamilyCLIC.

Each of the CLIC sites addresses topics pertinent to their audience, which are identified with advice and input from practicing lawyers and faculty members. For example, at FamilyCLIC, visitors can find out about domestic violence, children's protection and welfare, marriage and co-habiting issues, disputes with neighbours, laws relating to pets, and purchasing property together, among other topics.

The project's impact can be seen in the number of visitors – more than 2,400 each day to the main CLIC site alone – and the reaction in the community. The faculty has been invited through CLIC to give public talks, and foreign visitors have also shown interest in the project, most recently a delegation from the Zambia Law Development Commission which visited in the summer.

The CLIC team is now working with the Faculty of Education to develop teaching materials for secondary school students that will help to embed awareness of the law among a new generation of Hong Kong residents.

Professor Anne S. Y. Cheung and team members, Dr Kevin K. H. Pun, Dr Felix W. H. Chan and Mr Eric T. M. Cheung, received the Faculty Knowledge Exchange Award 2014 of the Faculty of Law for 'The Community Legal Information Centre (CLIC) Series (including the CLIC, Youth CLIC, Senior CLIC and Family CLIC websites)'.