Developer wins right to hire top British barrister

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 May, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 May, 2011, 12:00am


A subsidiary of property giant Cheung Kong (Holdings) will hire a top barrister from Britain in a legal battle with seven purchasers who accused the developer of failing to complete a luxury residential project on time.

In the Court of First Instance, Mr Justice Michael Hartmann approved an application made by Match Power Investment to instruct Nicholas Green QC, former chairman of the Bar Council of England and Wales, to appear before the Appeal Committee on June 9.

In the case, seven buyers of One Beacon Hill, Kowloon Tong, are seeking more than HK$1 million from the developer. They said the developer breached the property purchase contract as it obtained the certificate of compliance from the Buildings Department in July 2004 - five months after the scheduled completion date.

Green will apply for leave to appeal to the Court of Final Appeal. If he succeeds, he will also appear for the developer in the city's top court.

The Court of First Instance has ruled that a letter that the developer asked the buyers to sign when selecting a parking space should not serve as a settlement agreement over the delay in completion. The developer offered the HK$1 parking spaces before the lawsuit was brought.

The developer failed to appeal in the Court of Appeal but is now appealing to the top court.

The justice secretary and the Bar Association opposed Green's admission to Hong Kong's courts, arguing that contract law are matters 'well known to a large pool of senior counsel.' But Hartmann said that the issues, namely the admissibility of pre-contractual conduct and statements, are 'substantial ones'. Also, the benefit of outside experience may have real significance in the development of our law.

In 2009, Green won a high-profile case for supermarket Tesco against Britain's Competition Commission.