IN THE HIGH COURT OF THE
HONG KONG SPECIAL ADMINISTRATIVE REGION
COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE
ACTION NO. 13826 OF 1998
Coram: Hon Chung J in Chambers
Date of Hearing: 9 May 2000
Date of Decision: 9 May 2000
D E C I S I O N
1. In a written judgment handed down on 8 February 2000, I allowed the 1st Plaintiff’s appeal and made a cost order nisi that both thecost of the appeal and the cost of the hearing before the Master be to the 1st Plaintiff in any event. The Defendant later appliesfor a variation of that order nisi on the following grounds:-
2. The issue between the parties at the appeal hearing was in short whether the 1st Plaintiff’s documents “disclosed” pursuant to Ord.24 r. 10 should be subject to an undertaking (whether expressly given or implied by law) not to use them for other purposes thanthe litigation in question. Mr Ng for the Defendant considers that Mr Swaine for the 1st Plaintiff has at the hearing before theMaster also advanced an argument denying the 1st Plaintiff’s liability to make “disclosure”. Mr Swaine, on the other hand, disagreesthat he had done so. The disagreement between counsel resulted in the hearing being adjourned so that the official transcript relatingto the Master’s hearing can be obtained. The Defendant’s solicitors have very helpfully obtained the transcript from the court afterthe said adjournment and the transcript is now before me.
3. Mr Ng refers me to pages 6O to 7J, 8T to 9E and 11H to 12O of the transcript in support of his said argument. However, I do not considerMr Swaine was advancing a separate contention after I have read these passages in the context of his submissions made before theMaster: see especially page 6O to P and page 7 N to R. I rather understand him to be arguing (as an alternative to his primary argumentthat an undertaking ought to be ordered or declared) that if the Defendant is insistent on not giving or agreeing to an undertaking,the court should simply refuse its application without giving the Defendant the option of a “disclosure” order upon terms.
4. As to the question of whether the 1st Plaintiff insisted on an express undertaking, having read the pre-hearing correspondence, theaffirmation filed on behalf of the 1st Plaintiff and the official transcript, I do not find that the 1st Plaintiff had insisted onobtaining an express undertaking and would not accept anything else.
5. Even if Mr Swaine had advanced a different argument at pages 6 to 7 and 8 to 9 of the transcript, that point only took up about 3pages of a transcript lasting for about 20 pages in total (up to the time when the Master pronounced his decision). I do not considerin these circumstances that a different costs order is warranted according to the principles set out in Re Elgindata (No. 2).
6. For the above reasons, I do not consider that the costs order nisi should be varied. In coming to this conclusion, I have taken intoaccount the fact that what Mr Swaine said at pages 6 to 7 and 8 to 9 of the transcript had resulted in certain responses from bothMr Ng (at pages 11 to 12 thereof) and the Master (at page 19 thereof).
Mr Tommy Lo, instructed by Messrs Yolanda Fan & Co., for the 1st Plaintiff
Mr Kenneth Ng, instructed by Messrs Baker & Mckenzie, for the Defendant