A Hong Kong court will rule next month on whether Ernst & Young can use state secrets as an excuse for withholding information from the securities regulator. According to a writ filed by the Securities and Futures Commission with the High Court on Monday that was made available to the public yesterday, Judge Jonathan Harris will rule on September 11 on whether he is "satisfied that there is no reasonable excuse" for the accounting firm to refuse to comply with the SFC's request to share documents related to a listing candidate. The writ says the SFC issued nine notices from April 2010 to October 2011 to E&Y for accounting records of mainland waste water treatment company Standard Water, which the accounting firm was helping to apply for listing on the Hong Kong stock exchange in 2009. The SFC writ says E&Y failed to produce the documents and failed to help the commission "conduct an investigation concerning Standard Water" by refusing to share the documents citing restrictions under the mainland's secrecy law. Standard Water filed an application in November 2009 to list in Hong Kong. In March the following year, E&Y informed the exchange that it had resigned as Standard Water's reporting accountant and auditor as it had found certain inconsistencies in its documents. Standard Water withdrew its listing application soon after. Although the company eventually did not list, the regulator has the right to check that listing sponsors ensure firms do no provide misleading information in their listing applications. In response to the SFC action, E&Y said yesterday: "We understand our obligations to the SFC and endeavour to fully comply, while also meeting our compliance obligations with mainland China's laws and regulations. "Ernst & Young supports close working relationships between Hong Kong and mainland China audit regulators on matters of public interest. We will work closely with the relevant regulators, and trust that there will be a quick resolution to enable our full compliance with applicable laws and regulations." Since E&Y had resigned as auditor for Standard Water in March 2010, it had not issued an accountant's report for the initial public offering, E&Y said. The accounting industry has mixed views on the case. Roy Lo Wa-kei, deputy managing partner of ShineWing (HK), said he was surprised that E&Y refused to give the SFC the documents it sought. Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants chief executive Raphael Ding Wai-chuen, however, supported E&Y, saying: "Hong Kong accounting firms need to comply with the mainland's secrecy law requirements."