Multimillionaire was fit to sign will, doctor says

PUBLISHED : Friday, 04 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 04 March, 2011, 12:00am

A multimillionaire was found by his personal physician to have the mental capacity to sign a will leaving his fortune to a mistress instead of his children, a court heard yesterday.

Dr Ng Wai-cheong, who treated Chiu Yau-chuen for 18 years, was testifying yesterday at the Court of First Instance. Six of Chiu's children are challenging the validity of the will disinheriting them in favour of Chiu Chung Kwan-ying, one of his mistresses.

Ng went to the offices of the law firm where Chiu was to sign the will on June 5, 2003, to certify that Chiu had full mental capacity, was capable of understanding the effect of the will, and that he was signing it voluntarily.

He said Chiu had coherent speech, a stable mood and was not suffering from any visual or auditory hallucinations. Ng performed tests to examine his patient's mental capacity that day. Because he and Chiu both liked investing in stocks, he asked Chiu whether it was a good time to buy HSBC Holdings, Sun Hung Kai Properties, and China Mobile. He also asked about real estate.

Under the 2003 will, the nine children by Chiu's wife would not get anything. The six plaintiff children argue a will made in 1997, in which their father left his wealth to the 14 children then alive, should take precedence. The question remains, they say, whether the decision to exclude the nine children regardless of their conduct amounted to evidence of his being mentally unsound.

Chiu died in 2004, leaving behind 16 children - nine children by his wife Wendy Wong Mei-ying, who committed suicide in 2003, and the others by three mistresses.

The court previously heard that according to a mid-2000s Inland Revenue Department filing, the late Chiu had HK$260 million in 33 properties, and that he was rumoured to have additional foreign exchange assets and hundreds of taxi licences. Based on the latest auction prices, each licence is worth about HK$5 million.

The court had also heard from Neville Sarony SC, for the six children, that Chiu had long-term dependence on sedatives and a cocktail of drugs that included psychotropic substances.

Yesterday, Ng described treating Chiu over the years for ailments such as gastritis and prescribing him painkillers and other drugs to help him sleep. Under questioning by Benjamin Yu SC, for Chiu Chung Kwan-ying, Ng said he never detected any sign that the drugs that Chiu took impaired his judgment. He also said he did not seen signs that Chiu's cognitive functions and memory were impaired.

Chiu did not appear to have mental difficulty in understanding throughout the 18 years he knew him, he said. After the test on the day of the signing of the will - he said on questioning by Sarony - Chiu was as 'normal' as he was in the years he knew him. Ng said he did not know who would be the beneficiary under the will, or how many assets Ng was bequeathing under it.

'My primary concern was to assess his mental function and to assess he had the mental power to sign the will,' the doctor said.