Charity claimant to Nina Wang's estate granted an extension

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 31 January, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 31 January, 2008, 12:00am

Chinachem Charitable Foundation, which claims to be sole beneficiary of the will of late tycoon Nina Wang Kung Yu-sum, has been granted until February 22 to state its case.

The foundation yesterday succeeded in extending the deadline for it to file a reply to the case put forward on December 14 by Tony Chan Chun-chuen, a businessman and close personal friend of Wang who claims to have a more recent will bequeathing to him the entirety of the late tycoon's estimated HK$100 billion fortune.

The charity had been given until last Friday to deliver its reply to Mr Chan and to Wang Din-shin, Wang's father-in-law.

Brian Gilchrist, for the charity, told Master Jack Wong Kin-tong in the Court of First Instance that his client was experiencing some difficulty because one of its key witnesses - a governor of the charity - had been out of the jurisdiction and it had thus proved difficult to confirm their evidence.

'The materials have been delivered to counsel,' Mr Gilchrist told the court. 'I see no prejudice to [Mr Chan ... given that administrators have been appointed to manage Chinachem.'

He said the matter was not a simple one and a further delay while all the parties finalised their arguments would not cause any undue harm to anyone's interests.

Jonathan Midgeley, on behalf of Mr Chan, said that while his client was not resisting in any major way the application for an extension of time, he simply wanted to point out that the foundation had initiated the proceedings about 10 months ago.

'We are not objecting, we simply want some rigour brought into this process,' he said outside court.

He had requested Mr Wong not grant the foundation the full 28 days it had requested. 'We are ready. This is not a complicated issue. The law is clear. There are clear precedents. We suspect this delay is more an indication of the difficulty they are having formulating their case,' Mr Midgeley told the court.

Mr Gilchrist said the foundation, whose will is dated four years before Mr Chan's October 2006 document, would be challenging his claim on several grounds. They would include Wang's knowledge of what she was doing at the time of signing - her mental capacity - and also that the will was executed improperly, or under duress or undue influence.

Mr Wong agreed that a further short delay would not prejudice proceedings but put the charity on notice that, while he understood it was having difficulty, it might find it difficult to seek a further extension.

He awarded costs of HK$3,000 to Mr Chan.

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