On 11 March 2018, Justice Without Borders (JWB) hosted its first full-day training workshop in Hong Kong on obtaining rightful compensation for migrant workers who have returned home. 17 caseworkers from 10 local NGOs and Indonesian labour unions joined the training. Lawyers from JWB partner Herbert Smith Freehills LLP (HSF) generously donated their time on a Sunday to lead the legal discussions on Hong Kong law.
The workshop explored best practices and solutions to collecting evidence and to establishing strong civil claims that can hold abusers financially responsible for their actions. Through interactive small group activities, participants worked on real case fact patterns and brainstormed ideas about case strategies together.
Caseworkers also shared their experiences from assisting many migrant workers’ cases. Each exercise ended with a Q&A session with the training facilitators, which included JWB expert staff from Hong Kong and Indonesia, as well as HSF lawyers Ms Emily Rumble and Ms Vicky Man.
FROM WELL KNOWN PROBLEMS TO NEW TACTICS IN CIVIL LITIGATION
JWB Executive Director Mr Douglas MacLean began the training by highlighting the central role of caseworkers in preparing a strong civil claim against abusive employment agencies or employers. He then introduced the concept of cross-border civil claims, a legal option that is new to many caseworkers.
JWB staff Ms Sri Aryani and Ms Justine Lam trained participants on identifying claims and collecting evidence. Participants formed small groups to begin identifying hypothetical legal issues drawn from real-world cases. These simulated fact patterns involved common abuses faced by migrant workers, including employment agency overcharging, illegal deployment, physical abuse, unlawful dismissal, and confiscation of personal documents.
Participants analysed and discussed the legal issues involved and the possible civil claims and remedies. Caseworkers enthusiastically raised numerous detailed questions about the civil litigation process, particularly about pursuing remedies in cross-border claims after the client has returned home.
NEXT STEPS IN PURSUING JUST COMPENSATION
Participants then brainstormed evidence collection strategies in groups and presented their findings to the class. Animated discussion followed, with caseworkers sharing their personal experiences and the challenges they faced collecting evidence. JWB staff highlighted key evidence needed for strong civil claims and explored good practices to collect and record such evidence.
The workshop concluded with JWB staff sharing their expertise on internal case management practices. Participants detailed their own methods of case intake and raised many practical questions about the legal process of bringing civil claims after the client has departed Hong Kong.
The training sets the stage for future case screenings, with JWB staff now working with our trainee partners to support their capacity to identify and develop claims. We are grateful to Herbert Smith Freehills LLP and its lawyers for leading the legal discussions.