Lamma ferry crash

Families set to sue to see government's internal report

Administration could be added to lawsuit launched against ferry owners

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 May, 2014, 4:16am
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 May, 2014, 4:16am

Relatives of the 39 people killed in the Lamma ferry tragedy are preparing to sue the government for compensation - and the right to see in full a damning internal report into the disaster.

Irene Cheng, whose son Thomas Koo Man-cheung, 24, died in the collision between the Lamma IV and Sea Smooth ferries, said the families were discussing adding the government to the list of defendants in a civil lawsuit against the owners of the two vessels.

As well as seeking cash for their loss, Cheng said the action was intended to allow them to read a 430-page report into the Marine Department's actions before the October 1, 2012 disaster.

Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung suggested the families take civil action so a judge could decide on the circumstances under which they could read the report, which has not been released in full due to concerns it will prejudice future criminal proceedings.

The government released a summary last month, pinpointing misconduct by 17 unnamed officials and "suspected criminality" as well as "serious systemic failings" in the department.

Cheng said they expected the action against the government and the ferry owners would be initiated next month, as the families were waiting on legal aid applications and seeking a reply from the Department of Justice on whether it would waive legal costs. "I can't be 100 per cent sure we will get the full report, maybe just 90 per cent," said Cheng. "I'm not that doubtful … I'm confident we will make it."

A spokesman for the Department of Justice said it was in discussions with the families.