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Hong Kong courts

Hong Kong bride conned into saying yes to a dress that was not the Pronovias gown she wanted

Gemelli Wedding company director facing HK$100,000 fine and prison sentence after being found guilty of misleading customer

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 04 August, 2018, 8:32am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 08 August, 2018, 2:06pm

The director of a Hong Kong bridal boutique company is facing a HK$100,000 fine and two years in prison after conning a bride into renting a wedding dress she said was made by celebrity fashion label Pronovias.

In fact, the dress, a fishtail gown called Finisterre, was one made by the store, Gemelli Wedding, and not the Spanish company, which has dressed the likes of Pippa Middleton, the younger sister of Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge.

The Eastern Court heard that the bride, Vivian Tam, paid an extra HK$4,280 on top of a HK$6,000 package in July 2016, after Li Tsz-wai, 50, told her of the gown’s famous links.

She only discovered something was wrong when she found out the gown did not carry the brand label, and saw that it had different pleats and laces when she compared it to pictures online. Tam filed a complaint to the Customs & Excise Department after her wedding in April last year.

In mitigation, defence counsel Rachel Po said despite the victim’s complaint, she had liked the dress she rented very much, so much so that she was still using a picture of herself in it as her Facebook profile picture a year after her big day.

Li had pleaded not guilty to one count of applying a false trade description to a service supplied to a consumer, arguing instead she did not know, and had no reason to suspect, a forged trademark had been used, given the company’s diligent efforts to guard against the practice.

Her lawyers also argued that Tam, as a lawyer, should have known the gown was made by Gemelli, when its label – measuring five by eight centimetres – was sewn on to the dress.

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However, magistrate Cheung Kit-yee said it was understandable that Tam did not pay attention since she was merely an ordinary consumer, and the law did not impose a duty on the consumer to examine the products.

Cheung also found that any bride would have been misled by the company, since it had not removed from Facebook the photo of a Pronovias gown that had been sold, and had used its product code to identify the dress at the heart of the case.

Li will be sentenced on August 27, pending reports on the suitability of community service. The gown bearing the Gemelli label was confiscated.