A chance goes begging as the post office fails language test

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 31 July, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 31 July, 2010, 12:00am

A company director whose home and office were searched in connection with a fraud investigation involving Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was thwarted in her attempt to question Italian officers who were part of the raid - in part because the post office could not decipher the Italian for 'Court of Appeal'.

Shortly after the companies and directors lodged their legal challenge against the raids, Paddy Chan Mei-yiu asked for permission to question the two Italian prosecutors and two accountants who had taken part in the searches. The Court of First Instance lodged the request with the Court of Appeal in Milan, which authorised it.

However, the notification of the authorisation, which fixed a date for the questioning to take place, was sent to the Court of Appeal in Hong Kong with the address written in Italian as 'Corte d'appello'.

'Remarkably, the Hong Kong post office was apparently unable to decipher the address, and returned the notification to the Court of Appeal in Milan,' Mr Justice John Saunders said. 'Consequently, on March 4, 2009, when the evidence was due to be taken in Italy, the applicants had not received notice of the hearing.'

As a result, they missed the chance to cross-examine the officers.

The court here issued another request and the Milan court authorised another hearing, but later revoked it. The process delayed the trial of the legal challenge until March this year.