The Civil Service Bureau may face billions of dollars in lawsuits after the Government lost an overtime battle against an ex-prison officer yesterday. The Government failed in an attempt to have the Court of Appeal overturn a ruling awarding retired Correctional Services Department (CSD) chief officer Shau Lin-chi, 50, almost seven months' paid leave. A bureau spokesman said officials were considering whether to seek clarification of the decision in the face of a potential flood of similar claims. Its last legal avenue is the Court of Final Appeal. 'This will lead to quite a number of lawsuits if the Government doesn't seek to clarify if the court has laid down the right [decision] or not,' the spokesman said. 'If the Government loses this case, yes . . . maybe millions of dollars may be given out in the coming years for those civil servants who claim they have the right to claim [similar] allowances.' CSD spokesman Leonel Rodrigues said the department was uncertain about how the decision would affect other officers. 'The implications are very big,' he said, 'It's not only the CSD . . . it's wide-ranging. You are talking about billions of dollars.' Mr Shau was paid an allowance of just $50 a night for being confined to barracks at the High Island Detention Centre on about 200 extra night-shifts worked between September 1991 and June 1992. A father of five young children at the time, he was ordered to take turns with other chief officers to be on-call in an on-site barracks after riots at the centre. The Government appealed against a ruling made in October last year by Mr Justice James Findlay in the Court of First Instance that Mr Shau deserved overtime compensation. Geoffrey Ma SC, for the Government, argued that as a senior officer Mr Chau was not eligible for overtime. He said the nights Mr Shau spent at the centre's barracks did not constitute active duty. 'He can be required to be on-call at a fixed location - that being his place of work,' he said. Yesterday, appeal court judges Mr Justice Gerald Godfrey, Mr Justice Barry Mortimer and Mr Justice Anthony Rogers upheld the earlier ruling. 'I think that's nonsense,' Mr Justice Godfrey said of the Government's stance. 'It's like asking the duty judge to sleep in the court building.' Gerard McCoy SC, for Mr Shau, said the issue was whether a person was 'on-call' when he was forbidden to stray from his work place. 'I'm clearly of the view that it cannot include his place of work,' Mr Justice Mortimer ruled. 'The intent is that the officer is immediately available to report for duty . . . either from home or by a pager.'