The Electronic Transactions Ordinance (ETO) (Cap 553) was enacted to facilitate the use of electronic transactions for commercial and other purposes. It gives electronic records and digital signatures used in electronic transactions the same legal status as that of their paper-based counterparts.
These provisions of the ETO for legal recognition of electronic records and digital signatures in relation to rules of law and admissibility of electronic records as evidence in court have come into operation since 7 April 2000. Further details on the ETO are available at the web site of the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer (OGCIO) www.ogcio.gov.hk.
Submissions in Electronic Format
Buildings Department (BD) has set up an e-Counter at firstname.lastname@example.org to receive submissions in electronic format under the Buildings Ordinance (BO). Such submissions are those that do not involve voluminous documents, customized programme or large size drawings; for example, printout paper of size not larger than A3 or electronic file of size not exceeding 25 MB. An Electronic Forms Submission System (EFSS) has also been set up to facilitate online submission of some specified forms via the BD website (www.bd.gov.hk)
Before a suitable infrastructure is established in BD to receive and handle all submissions in electronic format, some submissions that involve voluminous documents, attachment of original supporting documents, or large size drawings are exempted from the operation of the ETO for the time being.
Format, Manner and Procedure
With the exception of those submissions under the exempted provisions, electronic submissions under other provisions of the BO (i.e. submissions referred to in paragraph 3 above) will be considered to be sent to the BD's designated information system for the purpose of receiving electronic records, as mentioned in section 19(2) of the ETO. The identity of the person making an electronic submission has to be authenticated by a digital certificate issued by the Postmaster General or other certification authorities recognized by the Government Chief Information Officer under the ETO. Detailed information on such digital certificate and its application procedures are available via a quick link from BD website.
The format, manner and procedure for the acceptance of electronic information has been published in the gazette by virtue of the ETO. The current Gazette Notice in force is G.N. 6697 dated 29 October 2021, URL is https://www.gld.gov.hk/egazette/pdf/20212543/egn202125436697.pdf . Failure to observe the gazetted format, manner and procedure will invalidate the submission.
While some specified forms may be submitted online via the EFSS, the templates for specified forms are available for download for submission as an attachment to an email, by hand or by post. Users are encouraged to type in the required information using a computer so that the information can be automatically stored in the two-dimensional barcode (i.e. QR code) on the form, for subsequent processing by BD.
Plan for the Future
BD will keep in view the development of an electronic submission system to handle all types of electronic submissions. The exemptions granted under the ETO will be rescinded when such a system is fully established.
Exemptions of the Buildings Ordinance From Operation of the Electronic Transactions Ordinance
Provisions Excluded From Application of Section 5 of the Electronic Transactions Ordinance
|a.1 Buildings Ordinance
|Column B in the table to section 17(1) (to the extent to which the conditions and requirements set out in that Column relate to a document specified under regulation 6A(1)(b) of the Building (Administration) Regulations), sections 20(2) and 21(2)
|a.2 Building (Administration) Regulations
|Regulation 6(1) (to the extent to which it relates to a document specified under regulation 6A(1)(b))
|a.3 Building (Planning) Regulations
|Regulations 51(1) and 64(1) and (2)
Provisions Excluded From Application of Section 6 of the Electronic Transactions Ordinance
|b.1 Building (Administration) Regulations
|Regulation 12(1), (2), (3) and (5) (to the extent to which it relates to a document specified under regulation 6A(1)(c))
Format, Manner and Procedure for the Acceptance of Electronic Information by virtue of the Electronic Transactions Ordinance -- Explanatory Note for Layman
For submission to the Building Authority (BA) made under the BO (Chapter 123) and its subsidiary legislation, the electronic records are only acceptable when they are sent as attachments in a digitally signed email and are in the manner and format as follows:
- electronic records of specified forms shall be in PDF with the digital signatures properly applied onto the specified locations of the specified forms; and
- other electronic records shall either be:
- in PDF, and each separated page of the documents shall not be larger than A3 size, and each document shall be associated with a digital signature; or
- in Tag Image File Format (TIFF) or in Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG), the respective lengths of the two adjacent sides of the image of each document in a resolution of 200 dpi shall not be greater than 3300 pixels × 2340 pixels, and 24-bit colour depth for document in colour, and each document shall be associated with a digital signature.
Additional Requirement in respect of the Buildings Ordinance
For submission of forms specified by the BA under section 22(4) of the BO (Chapter 123), the electronic records of the forms involved shall follow the PDF Format only.