The government has been accused of acting outside its constitutional powers in barring activists from sailing to the Diaoyu Islands early this month. If the government feared, as it stated, that the boat could be endangered by a Japanese warship, it concerned foreign affairs and defence, which were legally matters for Beijing, the boat's skipper claims in an application to seek a judicial review. Lo Hom-chau, who is also seeking damages, claims he was prevented from honouring his contractual obligation to carry those on board on a fishing trip to the area around the disputed islands. He also says a peaceful demonstration to be held on board to declare Chinese sovereignty over the islands could not be carried out. The boat, carrying members of the Action Committee for Defending the Diaoyu Islands, tried twice to set sail for the disputed islands but each time was stopped by the Marine Department and police from leaving Hong Kong waters. It was the first time the group, which has often sailed to the disputed islands to declare Chinese sovereignty over them, had been blocked. In his application, Mr Lo says the department also said that the vessel had failed to comply with merchant shipping regulations that required it to be used only for fishing and not to carry passengers. He also says he was criticised in a letter from the Justice Department in mid-May, for using 'fishing' as a ploy to get around the restrictions. Barrister Dennis Kwok Wing-hang for Mr Lo, argued in the application the refusal to grant permission to sail was unlawful and outside the government's constitutional power. He said that safety concerns were connected to past incidents but the government had failed to take into account that intentional collisions were not confined solely to 'protest fishing vessels'. He also contended that the motive behind the fishing activities was irrelevant to compliance with the regulations.