Chan Shu Chun (陳書春) v Kung Yan Sum (龔仁心) [2020] 1 HKLRD 1162

Vincent Chen appeared for the plaintiffs in the Court of First Instance in Chan Shu Chun (陳書春) v Kung Yan Sum (龔仁心) [2020] 1 HKLRD 1162.

Ps applied by summons under O.24 r.7 of the Rules of the High Court (Cap.4A, Sub.Leg.) (RHC) (the Summons) for specific discovery of D1’s “Statement of Travel Records issued by the Immigration Department for the period of January 2011” (the Statement). The Master refused the Summons on the ground that no such document existed. Ps appealed, arguing that the definition of “documents” was very wide and included computer databases, discs and records which held information capable of being retrieved and converted into readable form; and that under s.18(1) of the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance (Cap.486), D1 had a presently enforceable legal right to obtain the Statement from the Immigration Department, such that it was in his power and discoverable.

Held, dismissing the appeal, that:

(1) Ps had failed to make the important distinction between data and documents. The Summons sought specific discovery of a defined and named document, ie the Statement, not information or personal data concerning D1’s travel history during the relevant period. Nor did it seek discovery of the Immigration Department’s database, computer discs or records. (See paras.12-13.)

(2) No Statement specified by the Summons existed at the date of the Summons over which D1 could be said to have had control or power. This was sufficient to dispose of the Summons. (See para.15.)

(3) In any event, the object of the Ordinance was not to extend the rights and duties of discovery in legal proceedings, to require a party to apply to another party or authority in order to produce a document for the purpose of discovery. Further, the Statement was of little probative value and discovery of the Statement was not necessary for disposing fairly of the cause or matter or for saving costs (Gotland Enterprises Ltd v Kwok Chi Yau [2007] 1 HKLRD 226, Wu Kit Ping v Administrative Appeals Board [2007] 4 HKLRD 849 applied). (See paras.17-21.)

(The above headnote is taken from HKLRD)

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