Brothers in talks to settle Fook Lam Moon restaurant dispute out of court

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 30 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 30 October, 2012, 2:51am

The feuding brothers who run the Fook Lam Moon restaurants are negotiating to reach an out-of-court settlement, the Court of First Instance heard yesterday.

The twist in the family's legal dispute, which has been going on for two years, came as lawyers for the brothers applied jointly for yesterday's hearing to be held behind closed doors to "avoid unnecessary publicity about the ongoing negotiations".

Shareholder and director Chui Pui-kun, the fifth son of restaurant founder Chui Fook-chuen, and his younger brother and seventh son, Chui Wai-kwan, have filed petitions to buy out the other's shares in the holding companies of the restaurants.

Fook Lam Moon restaurants in Tsim Sha Tsui and Wan Chai are known for their fine Chinese cuisine and celebrity clientele. Tycoons including Joseph Lau Luen-hung, Lee Shau-kee and Li Ka-shing are regulars.

The family infighting began with a defamation lawsuit brought against the younger brother in November 2009.

In filing petitions to buy out each other's shares, both brothers alleged the companies' affairs had been conducted in a manner prejudicial to their own interests.

The court has heard that the dispute at the centre of their three lawsuits concerns properties. Lawyers for the older brother told the court earlier that the issues overlapping in the three cases were the brothers' disputes over the sale of a property in Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, and a proposal to obtain a banking facility of HK$50 million for the property in Johnston Road that houses the Wan Chai restaurant.

Founder Chui Fook-chuen, born in 1908, was head chef for the Hotung family in his teens. His catering business, Fook Kee, became Fook Lam Moon in 1953.

According to the restaurant's website, the name was chosen after customers suggested that it meant "good fortune arriving at your door" and was a promise of fine food. The website says Chui Wai-kwan followed his father and became an apprentice at the age of 14, while Chui Pui-kun took care of the accounting side.

The first Fook Lam Moon restaurant opened in 1972 in Wan Chai. There are branches in Shenzhen, Shanghai, Beijing, Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya.