Lawyers scolded for suit delays

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 January, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 28 January, 2000, 12:00am

A judge yesterday complained of an 'inexcusable delay' in bringing a personal injuries claim to court and said the plaintiffs should not be penalised as a result.

Mr Justice Conrad Seagroatt said there was a significant delay in the case of Elaine Lydia Wong Sau-ngo, who died after being struck on the head by a window pane that fell from an 18th-floor flat in Tuen Mun.

The accident happened on August 23, 1993, but the writ was only issued in late August 1996.

'Only in 1999 did the action start to move. That is not acceptable,' Mr Justice Seagroatt said.

Wong's two sisters, who launched the action at the Court of First Instance, were awarded $114,825 damages.

Mr Justice Seagroatt ruled that Ho Kam-chiu, a flat owner at Wang Hei Court, Siu Hei Yuen, where workers were fixing the window when it fell, contractor Ip Kam-tong and subcontractor Paradise Glass & Mirror were negligent.

He said the plaintiffs also were entitled to interest on the money from the date of the accident.

'I make it clear that in such a modest claim and with the significant delay it would not be professional for the plaintiff's solicitors to try to obtain any costs or make any charges against them,' he said.

It was the third time this month Mr Justice Seagroatt has complained of undue delays in bringing cases to court.

Barrister Richard Leung Wai-keung, for the sisters, said workers were trying to fit the pane into the window frame from outside the flat.

The glass broke in two and one piece fell and hit Wong, 32.