Top Hong Kong karate athlete takes HK$3.5 million elite status fight to High Court

In 2014, Law Chin-pang represented Hong Kong in the world championships and won silver with his teammates in the International Karatedo Championship

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 07 March, 2017, 7:45pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 07 March, 2017, 10:26pm

A professional martial artist has demanded the Karatedo Federation of Hong Kong, China, and one of its member associations pay up HK$3.5 million for causing him to lose his elite athlete status.

Law Chin-pang represented Hong Kong in the biennial Karate World Championships 2014 in Germany. He also won silver with his teammates at the 5th International Karatedo Championship.

But his career took a turn when Ken Go Kai Karate Do Hong Kong Headquarter terminated his membership on May 20, 2015, which invalidated his full-member status at the KFHK, according to a writ filed to the High Court.

It was the federation that had recommended Law for elite athlete status to the Hong Kong Sports Institute’s Sports Scholarship Scheme in 2009. However its staff withdrew the referral after learning of his discontinued membership status.

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In the writ, Law said his membership was terminated “without any valid justification” and he was not given a chance to state his case.

Although he immediately gained membership at Shitoryu Karatedo Zenbukan karate club after the termination, the federation refused to resubmit the referral to the HKSI because he was bound by a four-month “freezing period”, according to the writ.

The freezing period was in accordance with the federation’s general committee resolution dated August 30, 2013.

According to the documents filed to the High Court, the federation told Law he had to reapply for the grant scheme after the freezing period had ended. As a result, the HKSI terminated Law’s elite athlete status.

He said he was entitled to the HKSI’s Elite Training Grant for at least three more years, with annual payments amounting to more than HK$1.1 million.

The grant covered Law’s residence, competitions, training, education, medical subsidies and travel insurance.

Law argued the freezing period was an “unreasonable, capricious and wrongful” breach of the federation’s terms that it “would not act unreasonably” to the detriment of its members’ interests.

“The resolution was passed solely to unfairly and capriciously protect the interest of a few members of the KFHK, against the interest of most members including the plaintiff,” his lawyers wrote.

Law is now seeking a declaration that the resolution was in breach of the KFHK’s memorandum plus damages, interest and costs from both associations.

Founded in 1974, the federation is the only recognised association funded by the government to organise events and tournaments, and select Hong Kong representatives for competitions.