Crucial differences between English and Chinese-language versions of the law yesterday led a judge to overturn the conviction of a defiant fish shop owner. Tam Yuk-ha could have been guilty under the law in English but innocent according to the Chinese translation, Mr Justice Wally Yeung Chun-kuen said. He ruled the Chinese version should take priority because, in the case of the law concerned, it provided a clearer definition. It is the first time a court has used differences between the English and Chinese versions to quash a conviction. The Legal Department has yet to decide whether it will challenge the ruling. Ms Tam had been fined $3,000 after being found guilty by magistrate Polly Lo Hang-fook of twice breaching Urban Council by-laws relating to the sale of food. Inspectors who visited her shop in Gage Street, Central, on December 5 found a heavy metal tray outside with about 15 kilograms of dead fish on it. A second visit two weeks later revealed three metal trays, a chopping block and a table outside the shop. The prosecution claimed this was in breach of section 35 of the Urban Council's Food Business by-laws because an approved plan of Ms Tam's shop does not include the area outside. Mr Justice Yeung said the English version of the law bars 'any alteration or addition which would result in a material deviation from the plan'. It was arguable this would include items found outside Ms Tam's shop, the judge said. But the same law in Chinese uses the phrase tsang kin kung ching which means 'building additional construction or building works'. 'No one who understands the Chinese language would come to the conclusion that placing metal trays and other items in front of the shop would be a tsang kin kung ching,' he said. The Chinese translations of nearly 300 ordinances passed in English have been declared authentic. The aim is to have all 517 English laws translated by the handover. Ms Tam, 58, said: 'I'm happy that I was eventually given a fair judgment.'