Lai See

Another bar given leave to appeal against licensing conditions

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 March, 2014, 12:45am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 March, 2014, 12:45am

We see that yet another bar has been granted leave to apply for a judicial review against a decision by the Municipal Services Appeal Board by Mr Justice Kevin Zervos. The applicant in this case is Philippe Orrico, who operates a fine-dining restaurant known as Upper Modern Bistro in Upper Street, Sheung Wan.

The restaurant was granted a liquor licence by the Liquor Licensing Board in October 2013 in the face of strong local objections, according to submissions at the hearing in which residents complained that the area was primarily a residential district and not a place for a licensed restaurant. They were concerned about late-night noise and the possible escalation of businesses of this type in the area.

Instead of getting a licence for a year, Upper Modern Bistro was granted one for nine months along with four conditions that stipulated that the doors and windows should be closed after 6pm, sale of liquor should stop at 10pm and should not be consumed after 11pm, and sound equipment should be turned off after 10pm.

The bar appealed to the MSAB against the reduced licence and the four conditions. This was heard in January this year, and the board revoked the licence with immediate effect, concluding: "The premises were not suitable for selling intoxicating liquor having regard to its location and it is contrary to the public interest to grant a liquor licence."

With the granting of leave to apply for a judicial review, the licence has been reinstated until the judicial review is heard. Justice Zervos said: "There is a basis to reasonably argue that the MSAB in its written decision has made inconsistent statements and findings as to the description and circumstances of the locality; that it has not appropriately addressed the submissions of the applicants or provided adequate analysis of them; that it has not provided adequate reasons for its decision. In the latter point, the issue is whether any adequate reasons, if at all, have been provided in the decision."


Citi and women

As is incumbent for a big global bank, Citi marked International Women's Day. It did so in Hong Kong yesterday with cocktails featuring Debra Meiburg, who was the first person in Asia to be awarded the prestigious Master of Wine. Having acknowledged her success in a traditionally male-dominated industry, Citi cheekily adds: "Debra helps her clients around the region appreciate and enjoy wine at a higher level, sharing the same philosophy as Citi's where we both only bring the best to our clients."

Citi's Asia-Pacific chief executive Stephen Bird was at pains to point out that women made up more than half of the bank's 50,000 workforce in Asia.

We see that the bank has a 14-person board, of whom three are women. Women thus account for 21.4 per cent of the board, higher than the average in the United States at 16.9 per cent.


Paul Chan's defamation case

We have been asked to amplify aspects of a story we wrote last month about a defamation case involving Development Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po and his wife Frieda Hui Po-ming. The couple are being sued for libel by businessman Carl Lu, a member of the Chinese International School board of governors, and his twin children Caitlin and Jonathan, who in 2011 were students at the school.

Rumours were circulating among students of the school and their parents in November 2011, according to court documents, that Jonathan was suspected of having cheated in a test, but got away with it because his father was a member of the board of governors. Chan and his wife, who at the time had a daughter at the school, sent e-mails to parents about the incident, which Carl and Jonathan Lu considered defamatory. Shortly afterwards, the pair also sent e-mails about a similar incident involving Jonathan and Caitlin a year earlier, which were also considered defamatory.

The plaintiffs' lawyers have written to say that Lai See omitted a crucial aspect of the matter, which appears in court documents, and that our account was not fairly balanced. They refer to the defendants' defence in which "they deny attacking the reputation or integrity of the plaintiffs by publishing the offending e-mails and deny that the publications were designed to inflict damage on the plaintiffs. They accept the offending words are untrue. In essence, their defence is qualified privilege".


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