Doctor takes father to court for defamation in latest family feud

Long-running family legal rows take new turn with son seeking cash for damage to reputation

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 07 January, 2014, 6:06pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 08 January, 2014, 4:56am

A long-running squabble between a doctor and his elderly father over money has returned to the courts, this time with the son suing the father for putting up defamatory posters near his clinic in Lam Tin.

The posters alleged Dr Lam Chuen-lung cheated his 71-year-old father Lam Sing-yin out of money and property, the Court of First Instance heard yesterday.

The son is seeking at least HK$800,000 to compensate for serious damage to his reputation.

The court heard that the elder Lam posted notices in the vicinity of the Kowloon Tong and Mong Kok schools where his son's children were studying, and near the Lam Tin MTR station, which was close to the clinic. "It was the [busiest] part of Lam Tin district," barrister Li Chau-yuen SC, for the son, said. "He chose the place to do maximum damage to the plaintiff's reputation."

In a 2011 writ to evict his parents from their home, the doctor said that their familial ties deteriorated in 2007. Between 2008 and 2009, he called police 12 times, alleging his parents caused disturbances at his clinic, the writ said.

Lam Sing-yin received a suspended five-month jail sentence in 2010 over criminal intimidation for confronting his son with a knife at the clinic. The trial heard that the son called his father a beggar during the chaos, but the son denied it in the witness box. The conviction was overturned on appeal.

The son later sought to evict his parents from the flat they were living in, at Sceneway Garden, Lam Tin, and to sell it. That was followed by an application for an injunction to bar his father from getting near his clinic.

In the latest development, Lam senior was accused of posting copies of news reports about his appeal victory and handwritten notes allegedly defamatory to his son, the court heard.

The notices claimed the son had to repeat three years of his education and did not complete his medical studies until he was 28 years old. He deceived his father into handing over money and shops, then framed his father and hauled him to court, the notices said, questioning how such a person could be a doctor.

Li said his client had not cheated his father. He had borrowed HK$700,000 from the elder Lam to invest in some properties and had repaid HK$1.5 million instead, he said.

The court also viewed several videos showing the father distributing the notices to passers-by.

In one video, a woman said to the elder Lam: "You owed him in your past life." The trial continues before Mr Justice David Lok Kai-hong after the two feuding sides failed to resolve the matter out of court despite the judge's advice.