Court odyssey ends in win for king of comedy

Top News | Maisy Mok 24 Dec 2020

Actor and director Stephen Chow Sing-chi yesterday won an eight-year legal battle against his ex-girlfriend Alice Yu Man-fung who sued him for HK$80 million in investment commissions.

High court judge Russell Coleman yesterday dismissed Yu's claims and ordered her to pay Chow's legal costs.

During the 10-day trial, the court heard that Yu had been involved in every aspect of Chow's personal and business finance since they began their relationship in 1997 or 1998.

Yu said they had a "commercial relationship" and had had an oral agreement by which Chow would pay a 10 percent share of net profits made on all successful investments recommended by her.

She then sued Chow for 10 percent of profits involving properties and a fund, and these took in a property at 12 Pollock's Path on The Peak known as House 12, three houses at Beverley Hills in Tai Po and an investment in the Peregrine Greater China Capital Appreciation Fund.

In his defense, Chow said the commission on his property investments was verbally promised as a monetary gift in an expression of love, and that the payment arrangements were made casually.

In his judgment, Coleman ruled that Yu's claim for House 12 at the Peak failed for reasons which included the absence of an oral agreement and that the discussions over a share of the profits was in relation to a gift.

"I conclude that, irrespective of whether the conversation giving rise to the alleged oral agreement took place over the telephone or on the balcony at House 7 [where Chow used to live], there was no intention to create legal relations," he wrote.

Coleman added that Chow intended to retain the house on the Peak for his own use and that the property was not an "investment."

Yu also failed to prove any of the dates on which Chow became liable to pay her a share of the "profits," Coleman wrote. She also did not bring about the acquisition of Skyhigh Property, on which the house on the Peak was subsequently built.

Coleman said that Yu's claim for three houses at Beverley Hills in Tai Po also failed for the same reasons, adding that the evidence does not show that Yu was the person who really brought about the investments of those three houses.

"As to the fund the fundamental and fatal problem for the claim is that the investment is in a fund which is not complete," Coleman wrote. "There is no sensible date on which any obligation to pay any profit can be said to have accrued, and none is pleaded."

Anthony Siu Yat-fung, the lawyer who represented Chow in taking hold of the judgment yesterday, said the movie star wants to end this case with yesterday's ruling.

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