Developer cannot begin building in Mei Foo before December hearing
A developer wanting to build a high-rise at Mei Foo Sun Chuen has no legal argument to secure an interim injunction preventing protesting residents from blocking the site because it is not in a position to start work, the Court of Appeal says.
The court gave its reasons yesterday for earlier rejecting Billion Star Development's challenge to a judge's refusal to grant the interim ruling.
It said Deputy High Court Judge Queeny Au Yeung Kwai-yue had exercised her discretion in the decision, in which it would not 'lightly interfere'.
This leaves the developer unable to start work ahead of a substantive hearing in December in which it seeks an injunction against the protesters as well as damages.
The court rejected the developer's appeal on June 30. In a written statement of the reasons yesterday, it said Au Yeung's original decision on April 29 'was an exercise of discretion on her part which, on well-established general principles, the court would not lightly interfere with'.
Billion Star's 'inability to obtain an interim injunction relating to the access roads means, in reality, that it is not in a position to commence construction works on the land pending the substantive hearing'.
'There is therefore no real risk of people wishing to trespass onto the land for the purposes of stopping the proposed construction works.'
In the appeal, Benjamin Yu SC had said the defendants - including five residents, a district councillor and three politicians - had no right to prevent the developer from using the only road that led to the site.
Chief Judge of the High Court Mr Justice Andrew Cheung Kui-nung said on June 30 that Billion Star had failed to show it had clear, absolute ownership over the construction site. 'Even though the government has issued documents to say your project is legal, somebody has got legal aid and has an intention to dispute the legality,' he said. 'The government approval is one thing. Whether you have the right [to build] is another.'
The Court of First Instance had twice, in April and May, rejected Billion Star's attempts at an interim injunction. The developer, which residents believe is backed by New World Development, aims to end protests that have halted work since March.
The court will decide in December whether to grant an injunction against the protesters, and whether to award HK$1.4 million Billion Star claims to have lost from work delays.
The number of storeys Billion Star intends to build on the site
- That plan drew 500 people to stage a lie-down protest on April 3