The Insider Dealing Tribunal v Shek Mei Ling

Cited as:[1999] 1 HKLRD 879; (1999) 2 HKCFAR 205
Court:Court of Final Appeal (Hong Kong)
Judgement Number:FACV23/1998
Judgment Date:16 Mar 1999
FACV000023/1998 THE INSIDER DEALING TRIBUNAL v. SHEK MEI LING

FACV000023/1998

FACV No. 23 of 1998

IN THE COURT OF FINAL APPEAL OF THE

HONG KONG SPECIAL ADMINISTRATIVE REGION

FINAL APPEAL NO. 23 OF 1998 (CIVIL)

(ON APPEAL FROM CACV No. 41 OF 1998)

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Between:
THE INSIDER DEALING TRIBUNAL Appellant
AND
SHEK MEI LING Respondent

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Court: Chief Justice Li, Mr Justice Litton PJ, Mr Justice Ching PJ, Mr Justice Bokhary PJ and Lord Nicholls of Birkenhead NPJ

Date of Hearing: 8 March 1999

Date of Judgment: 16 March 1999

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J U D G M E N T

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Chief Justice Li :

1. I agree with the judgment of Lord Nicholls of Birkenhead NPJ.

Mr Justice Litton PJ :

2. I agree with the judgment of Lord Nicholls of Birkenhead NPJ.

Mr Justice Ching PJ :

3. I agree with the judgment of Lord Nicholls of Birkenhead NPJ.

Mr Justice Bokhary PJ :

4. I agree with the judgment of Lord Nicholls of Birkenhead NPJ.

Lord Nicholls of Birkenhead NPJ :

5. The purpose of the Securities (Insider Dealing) Ordinance, Cap. 395, is to combat the insidious mischief of insider dealing. The Ordinance defines insider dealing in wide terms. For present purposes the definition in section 9 can be sufficiently summarised as follows. Insider dealing takes place when a director or employee of a listed corporation, who has information regarding listed securities of the corporation that is not generally known and that he knows is price sensitive, deals in any listed securities of the corporation. Similarly, if he counsels or procures another person to deal in such listed securities. Insider dealing also takes place when a person who is contemplating or has contemplated making a take-over offer for a listed corporation, and who knows that the information that an offer is contemplated or is no longer contemplated is price sensitive, deals in listed securities of that corporation or counsels or procures another person to do so. Insider dealing may also take place where price sensitive information, or information that a take-over is contemplated or has been abandoned, is disclosed to another person, and where the recipient of such information deals in listed securities of the corporation in question or counsels or procures another person to do so.

6. The Ordinance has not made insider dealing a criminal offence. Instead, the Ordinance has established procedures whereby those who engage in insider dealing may be subjected to penalties, including potentially swingeing financial penalties. When it appears to the Financial Secretary that insider dealing in relation to a listed corporation may have taken place, he may require the Insider Dealing Tribunal, which is chaired by a judge, to inquire into the matter. The object of the inquiry is to determine whether insider dealing in relation to a listed company has taken place, the identity of every insider dealer, and the amount of any profit gained or loss avoided as a result of the insider dealing.

7. At the conclusion of the inquiry the tribunal has power, under section 23, to make all or any of three types of order in respect of a person identified by the tribunal as an insider dealer. First, the tribunal may disqualify him from acting as a director or being concerned in the management of a listed company or any other specified company, for up to five years. Secondly, the tribunal may order that the insider dealer 'pay to the Government an amount not exceeding the amount of any profit gained or loss avoided by that person as a result of the insider dealing' (section 23(1)(b)). Thirdly, the tribunal may make an order imposing on the insider dealer 'a penalty of an amount not exceeding three times the amount of any profit gained or loss avoided by any person as a result of the insider dealing' (section 23(1)(c)). Thus, as can be seen, the formula of 'profit gained .. as a result of the insider dealing' is common to both forms of financial orders. An order under section 23(1)(a) or (c) may also be made against an officer of a corporation identified as an insider dealer (under section 24). The aggregate amount of all the penalties imposed under section 23 (1)(c) and section 24 may not exceed three times the profit gained or loss avoided by all persons as a result of the insider dealing.

8. This appeal concerns the interpretation of section 23(1)(b) and (c), and the proper manner of calculating in one particular circumstance the amount of profit gained by an insider dealer. The Ordinance gives no specific guidance on how the calculation is to be made.

9. In the present case Ms Shek Mei Ling and four others were identified as insider dealers by the tribunal after an inquiry into suspected insider dealing in relation to the listed securities of a garment manufacturing company known as Hong Kong Worsted Mills Limited ('Worsted'). The material facts can be stated shortly. By early May 1993 Shek became aware that her employer Ng Kwong Fung was acting for the Beijing Municipal Treasury...

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