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Film Classification and Control of Obscene Articles
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Judiciary Recruits Members for the Panel of Adjudicators
of the Obscene Articles Tribunal

The Judiciary now invites the public to apply for membership of the panel of adjudicators of the Obscene Articles Tribunal (OAT).

Regulation of Obscene and Indecent Articles

The Control of Obscene and Indecent Articles Ordinance (COIAO) (Cap. 390) regulates the publication (including distribution, circulation and sale) and public display of obscene and indecent articles, including printed matters, sound-recordings, films, video-tapes, discs and electronic publications in Hong Kong. However, the COIAO does not apply to films and television broadcasts governed by the Film Censorship Ordinance and the Broadcasting Ordinance.

Under the COIAO, "obscenity" and "indecency" include violence, depravity and repulsiveness. An article may be classified as -

Class I : Neither obscene nor indecent
Class II : Indecent
Class III : Obscene

Class I articles may be published without restriction. Class II articles must not be published to persons below 18. Publication of Class II articles must comply with certain statutory requirements, including sealing such articles in wrappers and displaying a warning notice on the front and back covers of such articles. Class III articles are prohibited from publication.

Obscene Articles Tribunal

The OAT set up under the COIAO has exclusive jurisdiction to determine whether an article is obscene, indecent or neither.

When determining whether an article is obscene or indecent, the OAT shall have regard to standards of morality generally accepted by reasonable members of the community, the dominant effect of the article as a whole, the class or age of the likely recipients, the location at which the article is displayed and whether the article has an honest purpose.

An OAT comprises a presiding magistrate and at least two adjudicators. The latter are selected randomly by computer from the panel of adjudicators. The remuneration for serving as OAT adjudicator is HK$955 for every day on which one serves for not less than half a day, and $480 for every day on which one serves for less than half a day.

The Panel of Adjudicators

Members of the panel of adjudicators are appointed by the Chief Justice for a term of 3 years and are eligible for re-appointment. A person shall be eligible to be appointed to the panel of adjudicators if, in the opinion of the Chief Justice, he is -

(a) ordinarily resident in Hong Kong and has so resided for at least 7 years; and
(b) proficient in written English or written Chinese.

To ensure that the morality standards adopted by the OAT conform to those of the community, adjudicators come from a wide range of sectors of the community.

Application for Membership of the Panel of Adjudicators

If you wish to become a member of the panel of adjudicators, please complete the application form and return it in accordance with the instructions therein.


More relevant information is available on the websites of the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau (Communications and Creative Industries Branch) ( or the Judiciary ( For enquiries, please contact the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau (Communications and Creative Industries Branch) (telephone: 3655 5595, e-mail: