Legal disputes between an insurer and the industry's watchdog prevented a waitress from receiving her payout, it was claimed yesterday. Pacific Century Insurance claimed it had been willing to pay Tsoi Hau-ling, 31, since March - but only on compassionate grounds, not because it was obligated under a ruling by the Insurance Claims Complaints Bureau. The firm's claim was made a day after the High Court ruled it was justified in not paying Tsoi US$2,378 (HK$18,400) over a back injury suffered in a slip at work in a North Point restaurant last year. The ruling drew widespread criticism of Pacific Century in the media and by the Consumer Council. Company chief executive Andrew Yang Fan-shing said a cheque for the full amount had been sent to Ms Tsoi last night on the understanding that the insurance firm had no legal obligation to do so. Mr Yang said: 'We were not fighting Ms Tsoi. We were fighting the bureau because it ruled beyond what was said in the insurance contract. It went beyond its powers and beyond the law, as the court has ruled.' Ms Tsoi said last night she was still angry and had not decided whether to accept the money. 'I am too upset at the company. I have to discuss with my husband and work out what legal implications accepting the money would entail.' The policy stated compensation was required only when there were signs of external injuries. Ms Tsoi had none, even though she hurt her back and had to stay in hospital for some days. The bureau said it received a cheque for US$2,378 in November last year and again in March this year but could not work out a legal agreement under which it could be given to Ms Tsoi. 'They first gave us a cheque in November but wouldn't let us pass it to Ms Tsoi,' a bureau spokesman said. 'Then in March, they wanted us to pass on the cheque as an ex-gratia payment. How could we do that without undermining our authority and our ruling?' Acting Commissioner of Insurance Lam Ka-tai said his office would study the judgment and thereafter conduct a review of the bureau's self-regulatory mechanism.