A High Court judge yesterday condemned the 'unprofessional and unethical' behaviour of a solicitor during a $7 million property transaction. Mr Justice Conrad Seagroatt found that solicitor Priscilla Yu Hang-sang of Baker & McKenzie had set a trap and induced the buyer's conveyancing clerk to fall into it, enabling her clients to keep a $700,000 deposit. The judge ordered that the vendors Leung Pui-shu and Ho Yuen-yeuk, repay the deposit and $192,500 in stamp duty plus interest to the purchaser, Speedy Rich (Asia) Ltd. The judge said Ms Yu had misled the clerk, Tommy Chan Hung-yiu, of Messrs Ng & Lam, into believing the transaction could be completed by 3pm instead of 1pm on April 7, 1997. As Mr Chan failed to hand in the balance by the earlier 'deadline' the vendors kept the deposit after Ms Yu told the couple they were entitled to do so under the agreement. Mr Justice Seagroatt said: '[Mr Chan] was honest and guileless. I believe Ms Yu's words and conduct were such as to induce the belief that completion at or about 3pm was acceptable. It is clear that Ms Yu knowingly misled Mr Chan. The way she behaved, in her own mind, left Mr Chan in an uncertain position. She knew that there was a trap into which - more likely than not because of her conduct - he would fall, thus enabling her to advise her clients within minutes that he should forfeit the deposit. 'Although she felt that there was nothing wrong in her attitude, it seemed to me that this was part of a game directed along the lines: 'How can we contrive a situation in which we can bring about a forfeit of the deposit so as to benefit our client to the tune of $700,000?' Undoubtedly if her solicitor colleague in Baker & McKenzie was fully in the picture, he connived at what she had done. It was unprofessional behaviour of a high order and I condemn it unreservedly.' The Court of First Instance had heard that the purchaser agreed to buy a flat in Laguna City from the two defendants for $7 million and paid the deposit a month before completion on April 7, 1997. On that day, the solicitors of both parties reached an agreement allowing the purchaser to inspect the premises before 7pm. Mr Chan, for the purchaser, had told the court that he had the agreement of Ms Yu that the transaction could be completed at 3pm. When he turned up at about 2.40pm at Ms Yu's office, he had to wait over an hour before he was told that completion had passed, the court heard. The desperate Mr Chan offered $200,000 as a form of incentive for completion to proceed, but was refused by Ms Yu. Ms Yu testified that she had not replied 'yes or no' when Mr Chan suggested coming by at 3pm to hand over the cheques, and she had implied that the transaction had to be done in accordance with the agreement. 'If this is typical of Hong Kong conveyancing practitioners' attitudes to completion, it is about time it changed. It is appalling to think that one conveyancer could behave in such a way to another. It is entirely unprofessional. It is utterly destructive of trust and straightforward dealing,' the judge said.