Chairman of the Shui On Group Vincent Lo Hong-shui said yesterday he was surprised by the decision to put the Tamar site project on hold, saying the company would think twice before bidding for future government projects. Mr Lo said his company had lost millions of dollars because of the decision. He said he hoped the government would review the project later. 'We will think more carefully next time when we decide to bid for other government projects,' he said. The pre-qualification document stated that the government was not liable for any expenses incurred or suffered by applicants in preparing their submissions. But legislator Lau Ping-cheung, who represents the architectural, surveying and planning constituency, said the common law in Hong Kong might allow companies to pursue their losses, even though the firms had not signed contracts with the government. 'Since the government had shortlisted five consortia to bid for the project, the pre-qualification exercise would mean the constructors had a reasonable expectation that they would get the bid,' he said. 'Pre-qualification is a common practice of the government. Theoretically speaking, each consortia had a one-in-five chance of securing the work. They won't be able to sue for the expected returns [of the project] because they might have lost money. But they can sue in order to recover the cost in preparing for the submission.' But lawyer and legislator Audrey Eu Yuet-mee said it was unclear whether common law could be relied on in this case. 'It is a lot more complicated than what appears on paper,' she said. The Paul Y-Shui On Joint Venture is one of the five construction firms shortlisted by the government. The others are China State-Hip Hing Construction Joint Venture, DRC-Tamar Joint Venture, Gammon Skanska and Hsin Chong-Ohayashi Joint Venture. The government shelved the $4.9 billion project on Monday just before tendering was due to begin.