IN THE HIGH COURT OF THE
HONG KONG SPECIAL ADMINISTRATIVE REGION
COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE
HIGH COURT ACTION NO 469 OF 2013
||JAMES CHOR CHEUNG WONG and
RITA MARIA WONG YUEN WAI
||HARK CHUNG WONG
Before: Master M Wong in Chambers (Open to Public)
Date of Hearing: 1 June 2017
Date of Handing Down of Decision: 4 July 2017
1. By summons dated 7 June 2013 (“the Summons”), the defendant applies for a declaration that in the circumstances of the case, the court has no jurisdiction over the defendant in respect of the subject matter of the claim; alternatively, a declaration that the court should not exercise any jurisdiction that it may have on the grounds that (a) the proceedings should be conducted in another court and (b) there are other proceedings pending between the plaintiffs and the defendant in another court.
2. The Summons was originally fixed for hearing on 24 June 2013, but by a consent summons dated 21 June 2013, the hearing on 24 June 2013 was adjourned to a date to be fixed for argument. Both parties were then legally represented, the plaintiffs by Messrs W K To & Co and the defendant by Messrs Hart Giles.
3. However, no hearing date was fixed by the parties until 26 October 2016 when Messrs Hart Giles wrote to the court to fix a hearing date for the Summons. The Summons was then fixed to be heard before Master Cheung on 28 December 2016.
4. On 28 December 2016, Master Cheung adjourned the Summons to a date to be fixed again. The plaintiffs were then acting in person.
5. The Summons was then fixed before me on 1 June 2017. At the hearing on 1 June 2017, the plaintiffs were represented by Messrs W K To & Co again, but this time the defendant was acting in person.
6. However, Messrs W K To & Co issued a summons dated 31 May 2017 which was fixed to be heard on 1 June 2017 as well. In that summons, the plaintiffs sought to adjourn the Summons again. Ms I Chin, a trainee solicitor of Messrs W K To & Co, appeared for the plaintiffs and applied for an adjournment on the ground that her firm was only instructed by the plaintiffs again recently and they had limited instructions to apply for an adjournment only.
7. I refused to adjourn the case as I see no justification to grant the adjournment at all. Ms Chin then indicated that her firm could not represent the plaintiffs further and she was not qualified to argue the case for the plaintiffs. I then asked her to inform her principal to come to court to explain the situation.
8. Mr A Chan of Messrs W K To & Co then appeared at the hearing and confirmed that his firm would still represent the plaintiffs but as they had no instructions to argue the case, he would make no submission on behalf of the plaintiffs.
9. Thus, I do not have any submission from the plaintiffs in respect of the Summons although they are legally represented, which is entirely unsatisfactory.
10. Although the defendant was acting in person at the hearing, his then counsel, Mr Wayne Hariman, had already prepared the skeletion submissions dated 22 December 2016 and the supplemental skeleton submissions dated 23 December 2016 on behalf of the defendant. The defendant simply adopted his then counsel’s submissions at the hearing, which are the only assistance I have in dealing with the Summons.
11. This case concerns a family dispute over the legal and beneficial ownership of a property situate at 40 Rumrunner Street, Mermaid Waters in the State of Queensland, Australia ("the Property").
12. The second named plaintiff is the sister of the defendant, and the first named plaintiff is the husband of the second named plaintiff.
13. The plaintiffs were the previous owners of the Property. It is the plaintiffs’ case that by an agreement made partly orally and partly in writing in November 1999 (“the Agreement”), the defendant agreed to loan the sum of AUD295,000.00 to the plaintiffs, with the loan to be secured by the transfer of the Property to the defendant.
14. On or about 7 January 2000, the plaintiffs executed the documents for the transfer of the Property to the defendant. The defendant then advanced to the plaintiffs the sum of AUD295,000.00 on or about 31 January 2000.
15. However, the plaintiffs allege that the Property was redeemable upon full repayment of the principal sum of the loan plus interest, costs and fees accrued, and that despite tendering the sum of AUD486,517.36 to the defendant, the defendant failed to effect the re‑conveyance of the Property back to the plaintiffs in breach of the Agreement.