Lee Yuk Lin v Yeung Chun Hung

CourtDistrict Court (Hong Kong)
Judgment Date12 April 2022
Neutral Citation[2022] HKDC 307
Judgement NumberDCMP3981/2021
DCMP3981/2021 LEE YUK LIN v. YEUNG CHUN HUNG

DCMP 3981/2021

[2022] HKDC 307

IN THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE

HONG KONG SPECIAL ADMINISTRATIVE REGION

MISCELLANEOUS PROCEEDINGS NO 3981 OF 2021

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IN THE MATTER of the amount of USD127,887.00 and any and all benefit accrued thereon since 28 July 2019 in a Policy No B725001342 dated 28 July 2019 issued by AIA International Limited
and
IN THE MATTER of Order 15 Rule 16 of the Rules of the District Court, Cap 336H

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BETWEEN
LEE YUK LIN (李玉蓮) Plaintiff
and
YEUNG CHUN HUNG (楊振鴻) Defendant

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Before: His Honour Judge KC Chan in Chambers (Open to public)(Remote Hearing)
Date of Hearing: 7 April 2022
Date of Decision: 7 April 2022
Date of Reasons for Decision: 12 April 2022

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REASONS FOR DECISION

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1. Before me for substantive hearing conducted remotely via video link were:

(a) the plaintiff’s summons dated 21 October 2021 to continue a Mareva injunction granted by this court on 20 October 2021 upon the plaintiff’s ex-parte application (“the ex-parte Injunction”); and

(b) the defendant’s summons dated 28 December 2021 to discharge the ex-parte Injunction.

2. By the ex-parte Injunction, the defendant was enjoined up to the return day from removing from Hong Kong, disposing of, dealing with or diminishing the value of any of his assets in Hong Kong up to the value of US$127,887 and in particular the Policy No B725001342 dated 28 July 2019 issued by AIA International Limited (“the AIA Policy” and “AIA”).

3. At the hearing, the plaintiff accepted an undertaking by the defendant in lieu of injunction (a) not to dispose of or diminish the value of the AIA Policy save the payments referred to in (b), (b) to continue to cause monthly interest from the AIA Policy to be paid to the plaintiff, and (c) to provide to the plaintiff statements issued by AIA regarding the AIA Policy. Upon the acceptance of that undertaking, I made no order on the plaintiff’s said summons. Having heard the parties on costs, I also ordered that the costs of the plaintiff’s ex-parte application and the plaintiff’s said summons be in the cause with Legal Aid taxation of the plaintiff’s own costs.

4. What was left in dispute was whether the ex-parte Injunction should be discharged.

5. At the conclusion of the hearing, I dismissed the defendant’s summons with costs which I then summarily assessed. I said I would provide written reasons. These are my reasons.

The parties’ dispute

6. The plaintiff is the mother of the defendant. She is now 66 years old. The defendant, who was born in 1989 and is now 33 years old, is her second son.

7. The plaintiff was divorced in 1994. She received no maintenance from her ex-husband. They had three sons, all of whom used to live with the plaintiff. The plaintiff had been a civil servant and had retired in about 2010. After the retirement, she received a pension of around $3,410 a month and worked for a while as a casual worker earning limited income.

8. According to the defendant, the plaintiff “has been a regular and heavy gambler for years [and] was declared bankrupt on 13 November 2003”[1] and his older brother Yeung Chun Chin (“The Older Brother ”) is also a heavy gambler.

9. The third son Yeung Chun To (“the Deceased”) left for Australia on working holiday in around 2015. On 4 December 2017 and most unfortunately, the Deceased met with a fatal work accident.

10. It turned out that the Deceased was a member of the Hostplus Superannuation Fund (“Hostplus”) under Policy No 103637796 and was entitled to certain death benefit payable to the dependants of the member or his legal personal representative. According to the plaintiff, she first learned in February 2019 that the death benefit amounted to AUD 228,577.07 (“the Death Benefit”).

11. It is common ground that the defendant and his then girl friend (now wife) flew to Australia to take care of the Deceased’s funeral matters and they instructed an Australian law firm to claim the Death Benefit.

12. According to the defendant’s case, the plaintiff and the Older Brother were not dependants of the Deceased and moreover, they voluntarily signed Section C of the claim form entitled “Intention not to be considered in the payment of the Death Benefit” both dated 5 February 2018 to waive their claim to the Death Benefit.

13. The defendant then made a statutory declaration dated 13 July 2018 pursuant to Australia’s Statutory Declarations Act 1959 (“the Statutory Declaration”) declaring, among others, that the plaintiff was not the Deceased’s dependant and was financially supported by the Older Brother and by her own savings[2] , while he was the Deceased’s dependant having received from the Deceased a total of HK$22,319.69 on 9 occasions during the period from 2 June 2016 to 4 November 2017.

14. In the meantime and on 14 May 2018, the plaintiff was granted the Letters of Administration of the Deceased’s estate by the Probate Registry. This was not mentioned in the Statutory Declaration. It was only declared there that the Deceased did not have a Will.

15. The plaintiff’s case is that she was a dependant of the Deceased. In gist, she said that the Deceased regularly gave her HK$4,000 a month as living expenses before he went to Australia, and after he went to Australia, gave her various lump sums amounting to HK$30,000 odd each and at times monthly sums at HK$6,000 a month.

16. Further, it is her case deposed in her 2nd affirmation filed on 10 January 2022 that her signature and the Older Brother’s signature in the said Section C were forged.

17. It is common ground that in mid February 2019, the plaintiff received a letter from Hostplus dated 6 February 2019 informing her, among others, that the Death Benefit amounting to AUD 228,577.07, that it would be paid as to 100% to the defendant, that Hostplus noted that the plaintiff did not wish to make a claim for the Death Benefit, and that the plaintiff has 28 days to disagree with the payment proposal. This letter did not mention that the plaintiff had signed the said Section C.

18. It is the plaintiff’s case that she then asked the defendant what had happened. The defendant then asked the plaintiff not to reply to the said letter and said that he had instructed lawyers to handle the matter, that the defendant would hold the Death Benefit on trust for her and would remit the full sum to her. Upon such assurance, the plaintiff only by various emails[3] to Hostplus (“the Emails”) made a number of enquiries, including as to whether they need to fly to Australia and whether they need to pay tax and such, but did not raise any objection with Hostplus concerning their payment proposal.

19. On about 4 August 2019, the plaintiff was informed by the defendant that he had already received the Death Benefit and...

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