Lam Fung Sin v Lee Yuet Wing [2024] 1 HKLRD 782, [2024] HKDC 33

Fiona Chong represented the defendant in Lam Fung Sin v Lee Yuet Wing [2024] 1 HKLRD 782, [2024] HKDC 33.

P and D were a married couple. During marriage, P purchased a property in her own name. D had been residing at the property until P commenced the present proceedings for vacant possession. D contended that the property was part of the matrimonial assets and claimed 50% beneficial ownership of the property. He applied to stay the present proceedings pending the determination of his application for ancillary relief against P in a separate set of Family Court proceedings. The Master dismissed D’s stay application at a call-over hearing. D appealed.

Held, allowing the appeal, setting aside the Master’s decision, and ordering appropriate directions, that:

  • (1) Where the subject matter was arguably a matrimonial asset and there were pending concurrent Family Court proceedings, the general rule was that it was desirable that one court should exercise its jurisdiction over all financial and property disputes between husband and wife. Therefore, it would be appropriate to stay the civil proceedings until there was a determination by the Family Court over the subject matter provided that such a course would not do injustice to either party (Chan Man Ki v Yau Chun For [2021] 2 HKLRD 366 applied). (See para.28.)
  • (2) P’s grounds in opposition to the stay application were rejected. A stay of these proceedings would not delay the resolution of the dispute since once the Family Court determined how the property should be dealt with (eg. by an order of transfer or an order of sale), the present issue of vacant possession, if it still remained, could be resolved in a relatively straightforward way; further, the present proceedings and the Family Court proceedings were still at an early stage. Assuming P succeeded in the present action and was found to be the sole beneficial owner of the property, D was still entitled to apply for ancillary relief, where the Family Court would deal with the property based on wider considerations under the Matrimonial Proceedings and Property Ordinance (Cap.192). There was no evidence to support that the stay application was a delaying tactic or an abuse of process. Costs would also be saved to resolve the dispute in one set rather than two sets of proceedings. (See paras.30-37.)
  • (3) Since D’s stay application was dismissed at a call-over hearing, P had not had the opportunity to adduce evidence in opposition; therefore, instead of granting an order to stay the present proceedings pending the determination of the Family Court proceedings, the Court made an order for directions for P to file affirmation in opposition and D to file affirmation in reply, if any, and adjourned the stay application to a date to be fixed. (See paras.42-44.)

[The above is excerpted from the headnote to the report in HKLRD.]


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