Tenement families may sue owner for payout

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 July, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 July, 2011, 12:00am


Families of two people killed in the collapse of a tenement block in To Kwa Wan last year are planning legal action against the building's owner, a district councillor has confirmed.

The families have also asked the URA to freeze redevelopment compensation due to the owner until legal proceedings are concluded.

Little progress has been made in prosecuting those responsible for the deadly collapse in January last year.

A contractor involved in the renovation of Block J at 45 Ma Tau Wai Road was brought to court earlier this year, but the case has been suspended until a ruling by the coroner's court. The coroner's inquiry into the four deaths caused by the collapse is not due to start until August 8.

The building is owned by two companies belonging to Chak Oi-luen, who hired the contractor to remove illegal structures, but has not been seen in public or heard from since the collapse.

Families of the victims started to worry after the Urban Renewal Authority offered a record acquisition price of HK$9,785 per square foot to owners of buildings in the redevelopment area in May.

'The authority shouldn't pay compensation to the owner at this stage. As the building is owned by companies, families will have no hope [of being paid compensation] if the owner gets the money and winds up the companies before the coroner's inquiry,' said Kowloon City district councillor Pius Yum Kwok-tung, who has been offering assistance to the victims' families.

He said families of two victims, 20-year-old Tong Qingtao and a 41-year-old man, are planning on taking legal action against Chak. They had also sent a legal letter to the URA, asking it to freeze compensation payments so they can take legal action against the owner after the coroner's inquiry was completed, Yum said.

A spokesman for the URA said the authority was seeking more information from the families' lawyer, including the grounds for freezing compensation.

Chak had never contacted the authority for compensation, he said.