Paul Chan faces up to HK$7 mln legal tab in defamation case

October 08, 2015 13:19
Paul Chan and his wife leave the High Court after a judge rejected their appeal for reduced penalty in a defamation case and ordered the couple to reimburse 60% of the plaintiff's legal costs. Photos: HKEJ, Apple Daily

Development Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po and his wife Frieda Hui Po-ming face total bill of up to HK$7 million (US$903,220) in legal costs and compensation payment after a defamation case against them, according to Apple Daily.

A Hong Kong judge Wednesday rejected a petition by Chan and his wife to reduce the amount they were earlier ordered to pay for making defamatory comments about two schoolmates of their children.

In September last year, the High Court ordered the Chans to pay HK$230,000 for defaming a pair of twins over claims of cheating at school.

The plaintiff, the twins' father -- a person named Carl Lu -- meanwhile demanded that the Chans be made to cover the legal costs related to the case on a punitive basis.

Following an appeal by the Chans, a judge delivered a final verdict Wednesday.

While refusing to lower the compensation payment, the judge ordered Chan and his wife to bear 60 percent of Lu's costs related to the case.

As both the sides are said to have spent about HK$4 million each in legal costs on the case, Chan will now have to shoulder a total bill in the HK$6 million to HK$7 million range.

During the trial, Lu, who is a board member of Chinese International School in North Point, told the court that in late 2011 Chan and his wife sent five e-mails to the former chairman of the school’s parent-teacher association.

In the e-mails, the couple said that they learnt from their daughter that the schoolmate twins had indulged in some cheating. The emails then went on to allege that the twins got away with their acts due to Lu's position on the school board.

The court then ruled in favor of Lu, finding the Chans guilty of making defamatory remarks.

Barrister Robert Whitehead, who appeared for the plaintiffs, said the e-mails were sent by Chan’s wife in the name of the couple, but Chan had claimed that the mails were a sole decision of his wife.

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