Company loses round one of bid to have Tin Shui Wai traders evicted for not paying higher rate Six stall operators in a Tin Shui Wai market have been hauled into court after they refused to pay new rents imposed by a company hired by corporate owner The Link Management. Barrister Richard Leung, for the plaintiff, yesterday asked the District Court to issue eviction orders on Chung Fu market stall operators Ma Wai-piu, Ng Wai-ching, Kwok Siu-hing, Au Pak-keung, Chan Yuet-Kuen and Ho Chiu-man. He said the defendants had failed to renew the agreement to extend their occupancy after February 15 when their leases expired, yet they continued to occupy the stalls. Deputy District Court Judge Pang Chung-ping, however, declined, saying a decision could only be made after a full civil trial. The Link's contractor, Modern Market Management Limited, filed six writs against the stall operators on March 22 to evict them. It also claimed damages over the period of unlawful occupation since their leases expired. But defence barrister Jocelyn Leung yesterday said the plaintiff broke an understanding that the two sides would negotiate new rent levels, during which time the management company would not take legal action. Ms Leung said her clients had all been paying the original amount since their leases expired and were waiting for further negotiation on the rents. She said an agreement was reached at a meeting on February 21 under which the defendants would continue to rent their stalls at the old rates while the plaintiff carried out a rental reassessment. She also said the plaintiff undertook not to bring any legal action for vacant possession while they were negotiating. Ms Leung also claimed that at the same meeting, both sides had a meeting scheduled on March 22 for further negotiation but it never took place. 'The management company filed against the defendants on March 22,' Ms Leung said. Judge Pang yesterday ruled that minutes from the February 21 meeting and a record of the dialogue showed the defence's assertion that there had been an understanding was credible. Refusing to pass an eviction order, the judge said the factual and legal disputes between the parties could not be resolved without a full civil trial. The judge ruled that the defendants had the right to contest the claims against them and they were awarded costs for yesterday's hearing. Outside the court, Mr Ma said: 'Since The Link has taken over the management of the market from the Housing Authority, we were no longer sheltered from this [unfair practice].' The court did not disclose the rental rates, but Mr Ma said he was paying about HK$20,000 a month when the market was under the Housing Authority's management. But when The Link took over last year, it was raised to HK$34,000, the rate he had been paying. He said he was now disputing the new HK$38,000 rent.