Appeal against revoked will dismissed by court

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 11 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 11 July, 2012, 12:00am


The long-term live-in girlfriend of the late owner of Lin Heung Lau Tea House has again lost a HK$100 million probate fight with his children.

The Court of Appeal yesterday upheld a lower court's ruling that teahouse founder Yien Chi-ren had revoked his 2003 will, in which he left a quarter of his fortune to Han Yi, because she treated him badly in the five years before his death. The two were in a 24-year relationship.

The court dismissed Han's appeal. Her lawyers failed to persuade the appeal judges that the 2003 will had 'disappeared' instead of being destroyed by Yien.

The appeal court said the lawyers' suggestion was highly improbable and had been dealt with by the trial judge. Mr Justice Robert Tang Ching, Mr Justice Peter Cheung Chak-yau and Madam Justice Maria Yuen Ka-ning will hand down their reasoning at a later date.

Yien's estate will be distributed equally among his six children from a marriage and another relationship.

The Lin Heung Tea House, in Central, has been in business since 1928, serving traditional dim sum in Cantonese flavours. Yien died in 2008, aged 88.

The court heard that Han met Yien in 1983. In 2003, Yien made a will in which he left a quarter of his assets to Han and the rest to his first, second and fifth children.

In a hearing last year, Yien's children told the Court of First Instance that Han yelled at Yien and blamed his incontinence for dirtying the carpet and her clothes.

Mr Justice Johnson Lam Man-hon called such ill-treatment a 'very upsetting experience' for Yien, and ruled that the disappearance of the will was because Yien revoked it.

Han told the court that Yien did not make provisions for his other children because he was worried they would squander his money.

Lam accepted the evidence of Yien's oldest child, who said her father told her that Han wanted to 'squeeze everything from him'.

Han claimed that the allegations were a smear campaign, saying she had maintained a good relationship with her lover in his final days.

But Lam wrote: 'If the deceased were so concerned about [Han's] future in the event of his demise ... there was no reason why he did not at least inform her as to the whereabouts of the will.'