ZHU LI v. MAYER BROWN JSM (A FIRM)

HCMP 2574/2013

IN THE HIGH COURT OF THE

HONG KONG SPECIAL ADMINISTRATIVE REGION

COURT OF APPEAL

MISCELLANEOUS PROCEEDINGS NO. 2574 OF 2013

(ON AN INTENDED APPEAL FROM DCCJ NO. 977 OF 2012)

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BETWEEN

ZHU LI Plaintiff
and
MAYER BROWN JSM (a firm) Defendant

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Before: Hon Kwan and Macrae JJA

Date of Decision on Costs: 30 January 2014

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DECISION ON COSTS

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Hon Macrae JA (giving the decision of the Court on costs):

1. On 3 January 2014 we dismissed the plaintiff’s application for leave to appeal against an order made by Deputy District JudgeNancy B Y Leung. We made an order nisi that the plaintiff pay the defendant’s costs, summarily assessed at $40,000.

2. By letter dated 10 January 2014, the plaintiff applied to vary the costs order nisi on the ground that the summary assessment was excessive given that the defendant’s Statement of Costs for the application for leaveto appeal in the District Court was only $43,853.32, which included a court hearing, whereas the application before us was determinedon written submissions alone.

3. By letter dated 17 January 2014, the defendant firm responded, attaching a Statement of Costs totalling $73,900, which comprisedsolicitors’ time costs and disbursements for $36,400 and Senior Counsel’s fees for $37,500 for settling the statement under Order59 Rule 2A(4) as to why leave to appeal should not be granted. The defendant firm have not sought to vary the costs order nisi.

4. The plaintiff’s submission that the summary assessment was excessive, based on a comparison with the amount of costs for a similarapplication at the District Court, fails to take into consideration the lower scale of costs for the District Court, or the factthat a further affirmation with new allegations has been filed by the plaintiff in support of the application before the Court ofAppeal. While the defendant has instructed Senior Counsel to settle the statement under Order 59 Rule 2A(4), this has led to a reductionin the amount of time spent by the fee-earning partner from over 15 hours to just under 9 hours, which we regard as an efficientand proper use of resources. Given the importance of this case to the defendant and the corresponding saving in time costs, we considerthe costs of retaining Senior Counsel necessary and proper.

5. Had we had the benefit of the Statement of Costs of the defendant, we would have allowed costs, on a party and party basis, higherthan $40,000. As there is no application by the defendant to vary the costs order nisi, we make an order affirming the award of costs in the sum of $40,000 to the defendant for the application for leave to appeal.

6. As the plaintiff has failed in her application to vary the costs order nisi, we would award $1,000 in costs to the defendant, being 15 minutes at the rate of $4,000 per hour, for perusing the plaintiff’sletter applying to vary the costs order and for preparing the defendant’s letter of objection. Accordingly, we make a total awardof $41,000 in costs to the defendant.

(Susan Kwan)
Justice of Appeal
(Andrew Macrae)
Justice of Appeal

The plaintiff, in person

Written submissions by Mayer Brown JSM, for the defendant