Emperor challenges signboard decision

Jewellery unit wants judicial review over illegal works it says it had nothing to do with

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 July, 2014, 4:23am
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 July, 2014, 4:23am

A jeweller under the Emperor Group claims the Director of Buildings has erred in concluding the company is the owner of two Causeway Bay signboards that are illegal structures and need to be removed.

Emperor Watch and Jewellery is seeking a judicial review of the director's order, made in 2012, to take down the signs, which are fixed to an external wall of a building on Russell Street.

The company earlier lost its case against the director, known as the Building Authority in court documents, at the Appeal Tribunal (Buildings) on April 16. The tribunal said it was clear from the public's point of view that the logo and inscriptions on the signs showed the company's business.

In its High Court writ, Emperor claimed the authority had not followed guidelines to verify with the company's staff whether it was responsible for the unlawful building works attached to common parts of the building.

A check with its staff would have revealed the firm was not the liable party, Emperor said. It said the structures were under the control of the building's incorporated owners.

"The authority should have followed its own guidelines by interviewing the landlord, occupant, management company and the incorporated owners," Emperor says in the writ. "By failing to do so, this has amounted to procedural impropriety."

In September 2011, the authority received a complaint about unauthorised works at the building and carried out an inspection. It issued a formal order in August 2012 for Emperor to remove the signs.

The company appealed to the tribunal, claiming it had not erected the boards and had no interest in them, even if it did enjoy the benefit of the signage. The tribunal dismissed the appeal.

Emperor said the authority had failed to visit the company's shop on Russell Street or to double-check information with its staff during the investigation.

"The tribunal unreasonably applied its own subjective perception against the [company]," the writ says.