Two members of a family running one of the city's most popular musical instrument chains have complained their brother limited their access to company accounts by giving them the information in digital form, which they do not know how to read.
John Lee King-cheung and sister Susan Lee So-fong, directors of Tom Lee Music Company and five other family-run companies, asked the Court of First Instance yesterday to order younger brother Henry Lee King-shing and employee Katherine Ng Kit-yee to let them inspect the companies' accounts.
According to Companies Registry records, Henry Lee and another brother, their father Thomas Lee Tse-ven and mother Betty Lee Sun Ven-yin are also directors of those companies.
Solicitor Lily Fenn Kar-bak, for Henry Lee and Ng, told the court her clients had made those documents available to John and Susan, but the pair simply "refused to come to the computer to inspect them". "They wanted hard copies. But there are tonnes of documents [in the computer] and they refused to pay for making hard copies," Fenn said.
Mr Justice Jonathan Harris said it would be a waste of the court's time to dispute access to the digital data by the two directors who did not know how to use the computer.
Patrick Siu, counsel for John and Susan, argued the Companies Ordinance stated that the books of accounts should be kept at the company's registered office at all times for inspections by the directors.
He asked the court to make an order to allow the inspection.
"Even if I make the order, there would be the same problem," Harris said. He said Henry Lee and Ng should try to help the other side with the use of the computer, or they could also simply make hard copies for the siblings.
Otherwise, "it may not be sensible" to argue over the issue, which would incur even more legal costs for both sides, the judge said.
The court allowed the case to be adjourned until July, after the companies held an extraordinary general meeting to remove directors next month.