15-minute hearing will launch battle over Nina Wang wills

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 November, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 November, 2007, 12:00am

On Monday, fung shui master Tony Chan Chun-chuen will ask the High Court to decide whether an administrator should be appointed to control late tycoon Nina Wang Kung Yu-sum's multibillion-dollar estate.

Lawyers for both sides are also likely to request speedy passage of the case through the system.

Some of the city's top probate lawyers are expected to face off in the battle for the billions left by Wang, chairwoman of the private Chinachem property empire until her death from cancer in April.

The judiciary took the unusual step yesterday of warning that there would only be 32 seats for reporters available, on a 'first come, first served basis'.

Jonathan Midgley, for Mr Chan, described the action on Monday in Court 29 of the High Court as the 'kick-off application'.

While only 15 minutes is earmarked for the hearing, it will provide insight into the case being made by the mysterious fung shui master after nearly seven months of speculation.

'It's our application for administrators to monitor the estate,' Mr Midgley said. 'We will present reasons for that and there have been affidavits presented already.'

Mr Chan says he is named in a will dated October 16 last year and claims he is the sole beneficiary of the fortune worth up to HK$100 billion.

Disputing Mr Chan's claim on the estate is the Chinachem Charitable Foundation, represented by Brian Gilchrist, which claims the colourful widow left her fortune to the foundation in a will in 2002.

Mr Gilchrist could not say whether Chinachem would oppose the appointment of administrators.

'The court action will be standard stuff, considering the application for administrators as well as various directions,' he said.

The case could run for years. Public interest in the battle stems from the case's eery reflection of Wang's own, ultimately successful, 10-year legal battle for the Chinachem estate.

Wang spent the last years of her life embroiled in a costly dispute with her father-in-law after her husband, Teddy Wang Teh-huei, was kidnapped and disappeared in 1990.

The dispute centred on the validity of two wills. A 1963 will left the estate to father-in-law Wang Din-shin, while one signed a month before his son's disappearance left the fortune to Nina Wang.