Appeal court clears way for bailiffs to end Occupy protest in Mong Kok
Judges rule that protester's appeal against injunction will not be heard, allowing bailiffs to take to streets and clear Mong Kok protest site
The Court of Appeal has refused to hear a protester's appeal against an injunction which allows police to assist bailiffs in clearing the Mong Kok protest site and arrest people who obstruct them.
High Court Chief Judge Andrew Cheung Kui-nung and Court of Appeal vice-president Mr Justice Johnson Lam Man-hon also refused Dominic Fok Wai-pong's request to stay the injunction granted by Mr Justice Thomas Au Hing-cheung on November 10.
Solicitor Maggie Chan Man-ki, representing the minibus drivers' group which was granted the injunction, said they would not take action immediately, as she needed to talk with them before placing newspaper ads to inform protesters, as required by the order.
"It all depends on the placing of the ads and the professional advice from the bailiff and the police," Chan said.
She also claimed the order included not just physical objects but also people obstructing drivers from using Nathan Road between Argyle Street and Dundas Street.
"There is a chance that if [any protester] obstructs and prevents my clients from using the road, [he or she will breach the court order]," she said.
It may take a few more days before another injunction granted to a taxi drivers' group is enforced as the wording of the order needs to be amended.
Fok said he was very disappointed by the decision, as he believed the court failed to clarify whether a public order could be dealt with by civil litigation.
"If a group of people applied for a march in the main roads of the city and obtained the approval of the police, but another group complained the march would affect their livelihoods, will the court grant an injunction to stop the march?" Fok asked.
He said he did not have much chance of taking his case further, but he would remain at the protest site and would not obstruct the bailiffs' work.
Fok's lawyer had argued that the two drivers' groups had failed to show they had suffered substantial damage in seeking the injunction. The two appeal court judges found the lower court was correct in ruling that the blocking of the road would cause professional drivers to suffer.
"Indeed for those who earn a living or derive an income from the provision of public transport services in Hong Kong, a densely populated city with heavy traffic and serious road congestion even in normal times, their loss in earnings or income by reason of the road blockages in an area as busy and as central as Mong Kok is, in our view, almost a matter of common sense, quite apart from the evidence submitted [by the defence side]," their judgment said.
They also found that Fok, and by extension other protesters, had no right to occupy and block the roads. They reaffirmed that "everyone should obey a court order". The two judges agreed with the original decision authorising police to assist bailiffs in carrying out the court order.
Police Commissioner Andy Tsang Wai-hung yesterday called on protesters not to obstruct the enforcement of injunctions aimed at clearing occupied zones in Mong Kok and Admiralty.
"[The protests] cannot be allowed to go on," said Tsang. "These protests have blockaded roads, severely disrupted the order of society and undermined the rule of law in Hong Kong."