Damages slashed in saga over 'blackmail'
The Court of Appeal yesterday lowered the damages a woman must pay a private investigator whom she accused of blackmail - and with whom she had a sexual relationship after hiring him to find out whether her lover was having an affair.
The court lowered the amount she must pay from HK$600,000 to HK$200,000. However, it dismissed all other grounds in her appeal. She must still pay HK$75,000 in special damages that were previously awarded to the private investigator.
The woman, identified only as T in court, had been the mistress of a wealthy businessman and had two children with him. In 2005, she suspected he was having an affair and hired an investigator, Shiu Wai-tuen, to find out. Later, T, then aged 43, halted the investigation and started a sexual relationship with Shiu, who was then in his mid-20s, which lasted until 2007. During their relationship, she gave him HK$17.8 million.
T claimed she gave Shiu the money in part as loans, and in part because Shiu threatened to show the businessman video recordings of them having sex. But Shiu said T had given him the money as gifts and denied having to pay T back.
T sued Shiu to repay the HK$17.8 million sum but a court dismissed her claim. Instead, it backed Shiu's assertion that T had engaged in malicious prosecution against him.
The appeal court said the judge had been 'entirely correct in ruling that all the ingredients of malicious prosecution have been proved'.
After looking at previous decisions, however, the appeal court determined that the HK$600,000 general damages award was 'manifestly excessive' and fell 'completely outside the range of rewards that could reasonably be made'.
Shiu had been charged with blackmail and intimidation and had to spend two nights in custody before prosecutors decided to present no evidence against him.
The appeal court comprised vice-president Mr Justice Robert Tang Ching, Madam Justice Susan Kwan Shuk-hing and Madam Justice Carlye Chu Fun-ling.