A dispute between an Oxford-educated English tutor and a Tsim Sha Tsui restaurant over HK$6 was settled yesterday after an adjudicator found there was no case to argue.
James ffitzRoy and his colleague Janice Leung's representative, Louis Hop Lee, signed the settlement agreement with Chao Yang Restaurant director Robert Tsai at the Small Claims Tribunal. According to the agreement, ffitzRoy and Leung will pay the court HK$430 by December 16 to settle their bill for the lunch they had at the restaurant in iSquare on October 22.
The case came about after ffitzRoy and Leung refused to foot the bill, complaining the restaurant had overcharged them HK$4 for a dish of braised string beans and HK$2 for a bowl of rice. They left service staff with a name card.
The restaurant contacted International Tutors, where ffitzRoy works as a director, to claim payment. After both sides failed to find a way to settle the bill, it filed a case with the tribunal.
Later, ffitzRoy filed a civil action with the District Court, accusing the restaurant of violating the Trade Descriptions Ordinance. He claimed for compensation, saying he and his staff suffered distress over the incident.
Yesterday, before the defendants went to court, they told the restaurant they would foot the bill on the condition that it would not pursue further claims. But Tsai, representing the restaurant, refused, saying it would agree only to issue a correct bill.
In court, Lee said the defendants had spent HK$630 filing their civil action with the District Court. If the restaurant agreed to waive their bill, he said, ffitzRoy and Leung would call off the civil action. But Tsai turned down the offer once more.
After hearing the argument, adjudicator Cheng Lim-chi said: "I do not know why this case has to go for a trial when one side is willing to pay and the other side is willing to accept the HK$430.
"The restaurant was wrong in mistaking the bill, but the defendant was also wrong in not making the payment."
Cheng found that there was no case to argue, ordered both sides to settle their dispute, and did not require the defendants to pay for the costs.
Outside court after the settlement, Tsai described the defendants as "troublemakers". But ffitzRoy said: "All we wanted was an accurate bill."