A Cheung Chau clothing stall owner has emerged victorious in her case against the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department's move to allow seven food stall owners to switch to a non-food trade.
Tang Shuk-chun, who sells clothes, shoes and umbrellas at Cheung Chau Market, had asked the High Court to review the department director's decision, which she said would increase competition in the market.
Tang said the director had failed to consult the market management consultative committee - as it was required to do - before making the decision in 2012.
In his judgment in Tang's favour yesterday, Justice Louis Chan wrote: "I hold that the director had failed to consult the committee in accordance with the operational manual and the common law in deciding to approve the seven applications for a change of trade."
Chan then ordered that the director's approval of the applications be revoked.
Tang had since August 2003 been allowed to sell non-food items at the Cheung Chau Market. In March 2012, nine stall owners in the dry-goods zone asked to switch from "food trade" to "non-food trade", saying they could not make ends meet. All nine applications were rejected.
But between June and August that year, some applicants wrote to the department, saying they were already selling goods other than food and hence should be allowed to continue to do so.
They said although this was not permitted under their tenancy agreements, they were never issued any warnings and even had their contracts extended.
In October 2012, seven of the stall owners received approval to change their trade. Tang found the director's move unfair and said he should have consulted the committee beforehand.