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the Hong Kong, or of a place outside Hong Kong if personal data is held or used in

connection with legal or law enforcement cooperation between Hong Kong and that

place. “Offender” is defined to mean a person who commits a crime. The definitions were

added by the Amendment Ordinance in order to exempt the provision of personal data

by law enforcement authorities to their overseas counterparts for criminal investigations or

detection of crimes overseas under multilateral and bilateral cooperative agreements or

arrangements. It would also enable assistance to be provided to foreign jurisdictions in

verifying personal data in connection with requests for legal assistance.


In comparison, the purposes specified in paragraphs (d) to (g) appear to be more

complicated. The purposes specified under paragraph (d), namely, “the prevention,

preclusion or remedying (including punishment) of unlawful or seriously improper

conduct, or dishonesty or malpractice, by persons”, probably have the greatest

practical importance. AAB No. 26/2004 is an example on dishonesty. In the appeal, the

complainant being a member of the disciplinary forces was subjected to disciplinary

hearings which had to be repeatedly postponed as a result of the complainant’s

sickness. With reasonable suspicion, the employer disclosed the holding of the

disciplinary hearings to the complainant’s doctors in order to obtain a medical

certificate regarding his physical and mental fitness to attend the hearing. The AAB held

that disclosure in the circumstances of the case met the purpose under section 58(1)(d),

i.e. for “prevention, preclusion or remedying . . . of dishonesty . . .” in avoiding the



As regards what constitutes “seriously improper conduct”, a provision is found in section

2(9). It is deemed to be seriously improper conduct when a person who holds any office,

profession or occupation, and is required by any law or rule to be a fit and proper person

to hold such office, profession or occupation, commits any conduct by which he ceases

(or would cease) to be a fit and proper person. Section 2(13) also regards it to be seriously

improper conduct if such conduct by a person has made him or could have made him a

disqualified person or a suspended person under the Rules of Racing and Instructions by

the Stewards of the Hong Kong Jockey Club. For conduct not otherwise falling within the

statutory definitions mentioned, the term “seriously improper conduct” has received

judicial scrutiny in a number of cases.


In M v M [1997] [FCMC 1425/1998], an ex-wife sought from the Housing Department the

current address of her divorced husband, with a view to enforcing her right to

maintenance payments pursuant to a Court order. The Department refused to disclose

such personal data about the husband on the grounds that this might be contrary to

DPP3. Saunders, Deputy D.J. (as he then was) ruled, however, that although there is no

definition in the Ordinance of the expression “seriously improper conduct”, the failure to

pay maintenance in breach of the Court Order amounted to a contempt of Court and

as such was “seriously improper conduct” as those words are naturally used and

understood in section 58(1)(d). In the circumstances of the case, the application of the

provisions of DPP3 to the use of the data would prejudice the wife’s taking steps to

prevent the husband’s seriously improper conduct. Accordingly, the exemption from

DPP3 under section 58(2) was available.