T v T

CourtFamily Court (Hong Kong)
Judgment Date20 Dec 2019
Neutral Citation[2019] HKFC 325
Judgement NumberFCMC4820/2018
SubjectMatrimonial Causes
FCMC4820/2018 T v. T

FCMC 4820 of 2018

[2019] HKFC 325

(Uploaded Vision)

IN THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE

HONG KONG SPECIAL ADMINISTRATIVE REGION

MATRIMONIAL CAUSES

NUMBER 4820 of 2018

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BETWEEN
T Petitioner

and

T Respondent

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Coram : Deputy District Judge M Lam in Chambers (not open to public)
Date of hearing : 26 March 2019
Date of judgment : 20 December 2019

----------------------------

Decision
(Maintenance pending suit/interim maintenance
& litigation funding)

----------------------------

The Wife’s Claim

1. This is the Respondent’s (“wife”) application by way of a summons issued on 30 May 2018 seeking against the petitioner (“husband”) on an interim basis for the maintenance of herself and their 2 daughters of the following:

(a) maintenance pending suit of HKD428,397.53 plus medical insurance per month for the first year and thereafter HKD342,900 plus medical insurance per month, commencing on 1 May 2018, or such period and amounts as the Court deems fit;

(b) pending determination of the maintenance pending suit, interim maintenance at the rate of HKD428,397.53 plus medical insurance per month;

(c) in the alternative, for the medical insurance, the husband undertakes to continue to pay medical insurance for the children and the wife;

(d) litigation fund of HKD200,000 per month (exclusive of counsel’s fees) commencing on 1 May 2018, or such period and amounts as the Court deems fit.

2. On 16 July 2018, Deputy District Judge D. Cheung made an order (“July Order”) that the husband shall, pending the determination of the present summons, pay the wife HKD55,000 per month for her interim maintenance and HKD45,000 per month for the interim maintenance of their two daughters (HKD22,500 per month per each child). The first payment was to be made on 1 August 2018 until further order of the court.

3. The July Order was made upon the undertaking of the husband to pay the following expenses as interim-interim order for the maintenance of the wife and their two daughters : -

(a) the monthly rental of HKD58,000 of a residential flat in the Southern district of the Hong Kong Island (“Rented Flat”), inclusive of a car parking space, from 31 July 2018 onwards (“Rental Undertaking”);

(b) security deposit for the Rented Flat of HKD108,000 on or before 20 July 2018 (“Deposit Undertaking”);

(c) utilities of the residence of the wife and the 2 children on reimbursement basis within 14 days upon production of receipt (“Utilities Undertaking”);

(d) school fees, school bus fees and school-related expenses (other than extra-curricular activities taken at school) of the children as and when it falls due (“School Undertaking”);

(e) medical and dental expenses of the children (which include medication for the younger daughter) on reimbursement basis within 14 days upon production of receipt (“Medical Undertaking”);

(f) medical insurance currently paid by the wife (“Insurance Undertaking”);

(Collectively as the “July Undertakings”)

4. At this hearing, a schedule (“Agreed Schedule”) is helpfully produced by the parties summarizing the present positions of both parties. The wife’s claim for maintenance pending suit/interim maintenance has dropped from her original claim to HKD309,281 per month, whereas the husband is only willing to pay for part of the claim for the children but none for the wife.

5. In addition, the Wife now seeks a lump sum payment of HKD2 million for her anticipated legal costs. The husband refuses to pay.

6. In summary, their positions are: -

(A) of the July Undertakings, the husband only agrees to continue the following undertakings until the determination of ancillary relief application or further order of the court: -

Of the July Undertakings for the present summons, both parties agree the reasonable expenses for such items are (HKD)
(a) rental for the children 36,000 (for the children’s share of the agreed rental : 2/3 of 54,000)
(b) utilities for the children 2,000 (for the children’s share of the agreed utilities : 2/3 of 3,000)
(c) the School Undertaking 38,264 (being school fees 30,064 + school bus 5,200 + school lunch 3,000)
(d) the Medical Undertaking in full (for children only)
(e) the Insurance Undertaking 1,000 (for children only)

(B) of the wife’s claim for maintenance pending suit for herself, the husband refuses to pay any. He also disputes the reasonable needs of the wife as follows : -

Item Wife’s Claim Husband alleges her reasonable needs to be
(1) rent 18,000
(1/3 of the agreed rental payment of 54,000 ; the wife abandons the claim for car parking space : wife ceased driving)
not dispute the quantum
(2) utilities 1,000
(1/3 of the agreed expenses for utilities of 3,000)
not dispute the quantum
(3) Food 3,550
(1/3 of the agreed expenses for food and meal out of home)
not dispute the quantum
(4) household 2,000
(1/3 of 6,000)
1,666.7
(1/3 of 5,000)
(5) transportation 4,650 4,000
(6) domestic helper 1,872
(1/3 of 5,616)
1,666.7
(1/3 of 5,000)
(7) medical insurance 1,000 not dispute the quantum
(8) Medical 48,000 5,000
(9) clothing/ grooming 61,000 8,000
(10) entertainment/ present 5,000 not dispute the quantum
(11) holiday 5,600 5,000
(12) buffer 25,000
(financial buffer : mortgage and other expenses for a landed property in Hong Kong held in the wife’s sole name (“HK Property”)
0
Total 176,672 The husband refuses to pay

(C) of the Wife’s claim for interim payment for the 2 daughters, the husband’s position is as follows : -

Item Wife’s Claim Husband alleges the children’s reasonable needs to be
(13) rent 36,000
(2/3 of the agreed rental of 54,000)
undertake to pay
(14) utilities 2,000
(2/3 of the agreed expenses for utilities of 3,000)
undertake to pay
(15) Food 7,100
(2/3 of the agreed expenses for food and meal out of home)
not dispute the quantum
(16) household 4,000
(2/3 of 6,000)
3,333.3
(2/3 of 5,000)
(17) transportation 9,300 1,000
(18) domestic helper 3,744
(2/3 of 5,616)
3,333.3
(2/3 of 5,000)
(19) medical insurance 1,000 undertake to pay
(20) Medical 3,000 undertake to pay
(21) clothing/ grooming 4,000 2,000
(22)entertainment/ present 6,000 3,000
(23) holiday 11,200 10,000
(24) school bus 5,200 undertake to pay
(25) school fees 30,064 undertake to pay
(26) lunch/ pocket money 3,000 undertake to pay
(27) ECA 7,000 6,700
Total 132,608 116,730.7

(For the items that the husband does not dispute the quantum of them, they are collectively defined as the “Agreed Items”)

Background

7. The Husband is 44 years old and the wife is aged 42. They married in April 2008. Their 2 daughters were born in July 2009 and August 2012 respectively.

8. The Husband holds a Bachelor of Medicine, Surgery and Medical Science. He is a registered medical practitioner in Hong Kong and has over 18 years of practice. He had worked for hospitals as general practitioner until 2012. He also used to work as part-time doctor for a number of beauty clinics.

9. In or around May 2012, the husband, with the assistance of the wife, set up his own general practitioner clinic, which specialized in aesthetic treatments, weight management and anti-aging treatments. Since its inception, the clinic has been operated through a limited company (“Company”). The husband has been the sole director and shareholder of the Company as well as the sole authorized signatory of the bank account of it. The Company business has been the sole income of the whole family from the setup of the Company.

10. The wife earned her Bachelor of Commerce in Australia. She had worked in the marketing field until around 2013. She assisted the husband in the set up and overall operation of the Company while the husband concentrated on the medical aspect of the business. In September 2014, the Company formally employed her as its Managing Director.

11. Their relationship turned sour no later than the end of 2017. The wife was told not to go to the clinic by then. Her access to the Company business was completely cut off in February 2018. The husband moved out of the former matrimonial home on 28 March 2018. In April 2018, the wife was served with the divorce petition, a notice of termination of employment and a demand note (“Demand Note”) for repayment of a debt purportedly owed to the Company of HKD745,745.75. The Decree Nisi was granted on 21 June 2018.

The Wife’s Grounds

12. It is common ground that the wife played an integral role in conceptualizing, setting up and running of the Company business from the outset. She handled all aspects of the business (except medicinal part) while being the carer of the children. From her formal employment with the Company, she had been paid substantial amounts over the years by way of salary, bonus and commission. She also had the use of prestigious credit cards for the family expenses as well as her personal expenses. The husband was used to settle or reimburse her those payments.

13. It is the wife’s case that she had all along been enjoying high quality of life until the commencement of the present action. In 2017, the husband was introduced to a Mr. Lee (“Mr Lee”) who claimed himself to be a Tibetan Buddhist Master. The husband subsequently became obsessed with the worship promoted by Mr Lee and his personality began to change dramatically : making a number of substantial payments to Mr Lee and some unidentified individuals as well as making unjustified allegations against her. Since about December 2017, the husband had tried to discuss divorce with her. On 28 March 2018...

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