Firm penalised for car-park operation
A second-hand car company accused of using its premises as a fee-paying car park yesterday applied for a judicial review after the Housing Authority terminated its licence.
The loss of the licence meant the company was forced to forfeit more than $1 million already paid in licence fees.
Team Best International Industrial, which runs a second-hand car sales centre under one of its corporate arms, Smartfair, entered a writ asking the High Court to quash the decision.
The company said it was notified of the authority's decision within 48 hours of it issuing a warning letter. It argued that it had not been given enough time to discuss the situation with the authority.
'The termination of the licence agreement would have the effect of ruining the applicant's business, as well as its financial position. The rules of natural justice should have applied such that the applicant should have been given a fair and reasonable opportunity to answer the [authority's] allegations ... before making its decision to issue the notice to quit,' the writ said.
Team Best secured a licence from the authority last September to use several premises in North Point between October 1, 2004, and December 31, 2005, for a lump-sum licence fee of $1.21 million.
The business allowed car owners to display their cars for sale at the premises for a monthly charge of $600. The owners were also required to pay a commission of 10 per cent of the sale price.
But the authority issued a warning letter to Team Best on the day the car sales centre opened claiming it had received complaints that the premises were being used as a fee-paying public car park. The letter reminded the company to use the premises only for the purpose permitted under the licence agreement and told it to 'rectify the situation immediately'.
The authority then issued a 'notice to quit' to terminate the licence agreement and forfeit the full licence fee.
The Appeal Panel (Housing) upheld the authority's decision after Team Best lodged an appeal last month.