The working of the Obscene Articles Tribunal
The OAT consists of a presiding magistrate and two or more lay adjudicators selected from a panel (COIAO, section 7). Upon receiving an item for classification, the Tribunal is to provide an interim classification within five days (COIAO, section 14). Lay adjudicators are recruited through open invitation and appointed by the Chief Justice. Their inclusion is designed to allow for community participation and to reflect public standards of morality, decency, and propriety in the classification process. The interim hearing is conducted in private, without the attendance of the applicant. The result is then published in one English-language newspaper and one Chinese-language newspaper.
If no request for review is lodged within five days of the interim classification taking effect, the classification will be confirmed as final. Upon a request for review of an interim classification, however, a full public hearing will be conducted by the OAT, consisting of a presiding magistrate and four or more adjudicators not involved in the original interim classification (COIAO, sections 15 and 16). A party may appeal on a point of law to the Court of First Instance within 14 days of the OAT decision (COIAO, section 30). The Tribunal may also reconsider, upon request or on its own initiative, articles previously classified (COIAO, section 17).