IN THE LANDS TRIBUNAL OF THE
HONG KONG SPECIAL ADMINISTRATIVE REGION
Building Management Application No. LDBM 248 of 2000
Coram: H. H. Judge Chow, Presiding Officer of the Lands Tribunal
Date of Decision: 12 January 2001
1. On 1.11.2000, the Applicants applied to strike out the sentence “It was built at the time when the Applicant was the Chairman ofthe owners’ committee of the Estate” contained in Paragraph 5(d) of the Notice of Opposition. Upon dismissing the application on22.11.2000, I imposed the following orders nisi as to costs :-
2. The Respondent contested the order nisi, submitting that the order absolute on costs should be made to the effect that the Applicantswere to pay the Respondent the costs for the adjournment, the preparation of the submission and the strike out application.
3. During the hearing of the strike out application on 1.11.2000, the Respondent’s Counsel, Miss Chan, admitted that there was a mistakein the above-said sentence in Paragraph 5(d) of the Notice of Opposition in that the words “the Applicant” should read as “the Applicant’shusband”. I then granted an application made by Miss Chan for the hearing to be adjourned to 17.11.2000, in order to allow the Respondentto amend the said Paragraph 5(d), with costs reserved. If not for the adjournment applied for by the Respondent, the hearing of thestrike out application would have been completed on 1.11.2000. It is the Respondent who asked for the adjournment, causing the hearingbe continued on another occasion; it must logically follow that he must pay the costs for the adjournment.
The preparation of the written submission by the Applicant
4. When granting the application for adjournment to 17.11.2000, I made an order that the Respondent was to serve and file the proposedamended Paragraph 5(d) in 7 days’ time. But the Respondent only filed and served the amended paragraph 5(d) on 16.11.2000, 8 daysafter the expiry of the 7 days’ time granted by me. By the time the Applicant received the proposed amended Paragraph 5(d), in theafternoon on 16.11.2000, the Applicant had already filed in her written submission.
5. On 17.11.2000, the Applicant did not pursue the strike out application. Mr. Law Chiu Yuen, a consultant of the Respondent’s Solicitors,submitted in his affirmation that “since the Applicants did not pursue the strike out application, and it is clear from the Court’sdecision that in any event, the Court would have dismissed the application had it been pursued by the Applicants, there is no reasonwhy the Respondent should be ordered to bear the Applicants’ costs for preparation of their written submission. As stated above,the written submission solely dealt with the striking out matter but nothing else.”
6. Miss Courbet, the solicitor for the Applicants, submitted that they never received the amendment (before the filing of the writtensubmission) and so thought that the hearing had to proceed. By the time they received the amended Notice of Opposition, she had alreadyprepared the written submission. The Respondent did not serve the amended Notice of Opposition on time, and the Applicant had toprepare for the hearing on 17.11.2000.
7. Her submission is correct. The issue is not whether the written submission referred to the amendment, and therefore bearing no relevanceto the hearing, as submitted by the Respondent’s Counsel. The written submission, of course, would not refer to the amendment becauseby the time it was completed, the Applicants’ solicitor had not received the amended Notice of Opposition. The issue is, had theRespondent compiled with the order made on 1.11.2000, or alternatively served the amended Notice of Opposition on the Applicantslong before 17.11.2000, then Miss Courbet would not have to waste time in preparing for the written submission for the strike outapplication.
8. There is absolutely no merit in the Respondent’s argument. I therefore make the order nisi absolute, and I further order that theRespondent is to bear the Applicants’ costs for the hearing on 5th Jan., 2001, to be taxed, if not agreed.
The Applicants: Represented by M/S Fok & Johnson, Solicitors
The Respondent: Represented by M/S Hastings & Co., Solicitors