TAIKOO SWIRE LTD v. AU WAI HUNG AND OTHERS

DCCJ003089/1973

IN THE DISTRICT COURT OF HONG KONG

HOLDEN AT VICTORIA

CIVIL JURISDICTION

ACTION NOS. 3089, 3100, 3102, 3106, 3113, 3123, 3125, 3131, 3145, 3158, 3162, 3166, 3308 & 3672 of 1973

BETWEEN

Taikoo Swire Limited formerly known as Taikoo Dockyard and Engineering Co. of Hong Kong Ltd.

Plaintiff
and
Au Wai Hung and Others Defendants

—————–

Coram: Liu, D.J. in Chambers.

Date of Judgment: 28th December, 1973.

—————–

RULING

—————–

1. An ex parte application was made to me in Chambers by Mr. Ip of Messrs. Johnston, Stokes & Master for leave to have Mrs. Kneebonerepresenting his firm, solicitors for the Plaintiff, in the Chambers summonses in some 14 eviction actions, namely, Victoria DistrictCourt Actions Nos. 3089, 3100, 3102, 3106, 3113, 3123, 3125, 3131, 3145, 3158, 3162, 3166, 3308 and 3672 all of 1973. Similar Chamberssummonses represented by Mr. Ip had been heard and disposed of prior to the present ex parte application. Mr. Ip argued that Mrs.Kneebone, a qualified solicitor in Australia, was only one examination in Accounts away from being eligible for admission under theprovisions of the Legal Practitioners Ordinance Cap. 159, that these applications would entail no substantial legal arguments but would be similarly dealt with and disposed of inthe same manner as those conducted by himself, that all the Defendants were expected to be in person, that the Court had a discretionin the matter, and that such discretion ought to be exercised in the case of Mrs. Kneebone. I was referred to the ruling of Cons,J. made recently, I believe, on the 13th September 1973 in Wong Kin Keung otherwise known as Wong Keung v. Lee Woon (or Wan) Sun and Others (O.J. Action No. 445 of 1973) in which the same subject-matter was canvassed. Mr. Ip was unable to fortify his ex parte applicationby any other authority than the said ruling of Cons, J. which virtually cut the very ground from beneath his feet. I had the obviousdisadvantage of an ex parte application but the ruling of Cons, J. , though admittedly without the benefit of full arguments, isbinding on this Court.

2. I have not lost sight of s.15 of the District Court Ordinance Cap. 336 S.15(1)(d) empowers the District Court to hear the address from a person allowed by leave of the Court to appear instead of a party to the proceedings. The words underlined emphasize the ambit of this paragraph (d) of Section 15(1) and admit of no ambiguity. In fact, even a limited company as a party to an action in the District Court may be, subject to the Court’sdiscretion, so represented. See Gabriel Gilberto Da Luz v. Kwong Ming Querry Ltd., 1958 DCLR 215; A-O-A Tours Limited v. Joseph C.K. Young, 1965 DCLR 18. But the present ex parte application is confined to the proposed deputizing for a firm of solicitors who merely act for but are notthemselves a party to the proceedings. Furthermore, an inference may be drawn from s.15(2) of the District Court Ordinance that the Court would not allow any unqualified person to appear before it professionally, and that was precisely what Mr. Ip invitedme to do.

3. I have consulted most of my brothers in the Victoria District Court, and their experience which is undoubtedly far more extensivethan mine is that the District Judges have not extended the right of audience, in Court or Chambers, to persons other than thosequalified under the Legal Practitioners Ordinance Cap.159 or authorised by express legislation.

4. Consequently, there being no exceptional circumstances I cannot accede to the ex parte application which must be denied. If I wereto take the view that there is substance in Mr. Ip’s ex parte application, I would be inclined to cause notice to be given to theLaw Society of Hong Kong so that no departure from the accepted existing strict local practice would be taken in its absence.

(B. Liu)
District Judge
28th December, 1973.

Representation:

Ip of J.S.M. for Plaintiff.

All Defendants absent.