Case Commentary

Hong Kong Criminal Law — Court of Appeal Quashes Conviction on Unfair Trial Ground

On 22 March 2024, the Court of Appeal handed down judgment in HKSAR v Lam Tin Wing [2024] HKCA 240 and quashed the conviction of a 22-year-old woman for arson and possession of petrol bombs with intention to destroy or damage property. Randy Shek and Matthew Suen represented the appellant both at trial and in the successful appeal.

Out of the six defendants in this case, the appellant was the only defendant who pleaded not guilty to the charges. She was convicted after trial. On appeal, the Court of Appeal agreed with the appellant that there were material irregularities at trial and that the appellant did not receive a fair trial. These irregularities included the trial judge’s failure to properly guard against apparent bias when handling the sentencing of the other co-defendants before the trial, his descending into the arena during the trial, and his failure to give the defence the right to have the last word at the end of the trial. 

As pointed out by the Court of Appeal, each of the three irregularities on its own might not render the appellant’s conviction unsafe [38]. However, considering the cumulative effect of all the irregularities, the Court concluded that the appellant did not receive a fair trial. The irregularities were such that they would have caused the informed bystander observing the case to say that the appellant had not had a fair trial: The Queen v Yeung Mau-lam [1991] 2 HKLR 468.

Randy Shek and Matthew Suen were instructed by Messrs. John C.H. Suen & Co. both at trial and on appeal.

Randy Shek

“Randy is a highly experienced counsel in the criminal law practice. He offers pragmatic and robust advice to clients and achieves favourable outcomes for them.” — Legal 500 Asia-Pacific 2023-2024: Regulatory, Investigations and Crime: Leading Juniors 

Randy’s main areas of practice include criminal law, human rights and civil liberties, and public law.  He also accepts instructions for civil cases involving injunctions, family law, and land law.

While he regularly receives instructions to prosecute on behalf of the Department of Justice, Randy is mainly a criminal defence counsel. Randy has a long and established track record for defending cases arising from high profile public order events and cases involving human rights and civil liberties dimensions. He is also particularly experienced in handling cases involving young offenders.

Moreover, he is also experienced in handling conventional crime, white collar crime, SFC investigations, and serious crime, including sexual offences and murder.  He has conducted trials and appeals in all court levels, both as led junior and on his own right.

Find out more from Randy’s profile.


Matthew Suen

Matthew is developing a broad civil practice across the full range of commercial litigation, international arbitration and advisory work. He is comfortable working in counsel teams of various sizes or alone and has appeared as sole counsel in the High Court and the District Court.

Before joining the Bar, Matthew had a stint at one of China’s top Red Circle Firms where he acquired practical experiences in China-related cross-border arbitration. As barrister, Matthew has been instructed to act – as junior counsel or sole counsel – for clients in commercial arbitrations under the auspices of major arbitral institutions in Asia, including HKIAC, SIAC and CIETAC (HK). During limited practice, he successfully defended a US corporation as sole HK counsel (instructed by PRC lawyers) against a CISG-governed contractual claim in an SIAC arbitration.

Matthew read law in Hong Kong and mainland China. He holds a Master of Laws degree in PRC Civil and Commercial Law from Peking University. He served pupillage with Mr Hectar Pun SC, Mr Adrian Lai JP, Dr Benny Lo, Mr Randy Shek and Mr Richard Yip before commencing full practice in 2022. Matthew was named a Charles Ching Scholar by the Hong Kong Bar Association in the same year.

Please see Matthew’s profile for more details.


This article was first published on 11 April 2024.

Disclaimer: This article does not constitute legal advice and seeks to set out the general principles of the law. Detailed advice should therefore be sought from a legal professional relating to the individual merits and facts of a particular case. The photographs which appear in this article are included for decorative purposes only and should not be taken as a depiction of any matter to which the case is related. The views and opinions expressed in this article/material are solely those of the members authoring it and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Denis Chang’s Chambers, or of any other member or members of Denis Chang’s Chambers.