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Hong Kong Contract Law: Court strikes out a daughter’s entire action for breach of contract and promissory estoppel against her late father’s estate

Hong Kong Contract Law

In Ching Chung Yin Secina v Ching Chung Kam Andrew in his capacity as the executor of the estate of Ching Chi Sau, deceased (HCA 1643/2021), the Plaintiff brought proceedings against her late father’s estate for breach of contract and promissory estoppel. The Plaintiff alleged that she made an oral agreement with the deceased which provided that she would assist him on personal and legal matters for remuneration.

Accepting the Defendant’s submissions and finding the alleged agreement’s terms to be so uncertain and imprecise to be enforceable, the Court allowed his application to strike out the Plaintiff’s amended Writ and amended Statement of Claim. The Plaintiff’s action was dismissed with costs awarded to the successful Defendant, who was represented by Abigail Liu.


In this domestic dispute, the daughter as Plaintiff initiated legal proceedings against her father’s estate for which the Plaintiff’s brother serves as one of the executors.

The Plaintiff’s case is premised upon an alleged oral agreement between herself and her father, under which she would provide him with assistance in personal and legal matters in exchange for remuneration.  She claimed that her late father breached the oral agreement by failing to honour his obligation to pay.  She also relied on promissory estoppel as an alternative cause of action.

In the Statement of Claim, the Plaintiff also pleaded that her late father had made a part payment to her pursuant to the alleged agreement.

The Defendant took out an application to strike out the Plaintiff’s action on the grounds that the Statement of Claim discloses no reasonable cause of action; is scandalous, frivolous or vexatious’ and/or it is an abuse of process.

Subsequently, the Plaintiff suddenly filed an amended Statement of Claim (“Amended SOC”) just about a week before the substantive hearing for the striking-out application. Counsel for the Defendant had only a few days’ time to consider the amendments and prepare for further and supplemental submissions.

The Court’s Decision and Reasoning

The learned Master agreed with the Defendant’s submission that the alleged agreement’s terms are unenforceable for uncertainty. In particular, the consideration, scope of services to be rendered by the Plaintiff and the late father’s payment obligation all lacked certainty or clarity.

The learned Master recognised that the Courts would generally be reluctant to find an entire agreement uncertain if a part payment had been made pursuant to the alleged agreement. Nonetheless, the Court was persuaded to rule in the Defendant’s favour and ordered the striking out of the Amended Writ and Amended SOC.

The Plaintiff’s action was accordingly dismissed with costs awarded to the Defendant.



Abigail Liu, instructed by Hau, Lau, Li & Yeung, acted for the successful Defendant.

Abigail Liu

Abigail joined Chambers in 2019 and is developing a broad civil and criminal practice, with experience in various areas such as family and matrimonial matters, public law, land, tort, personal injuries, employee compensation, commercial litigation, trusts and probate.

Recently, Abigail appeared for the successful 1st to 5th Defendants in Wu Ming Wai Alice v Simon Wu Ming Fat and Others (HCA 329/2021), in which the Court struck out the Plaintiff’s claims in relation to her late father’s properties and for breach of contract against her brother.

In Luk Wai Ho v. Fang Yu (DCCJ 4744/2019) [2021] HKDC 1345, Abigail successfully resisted an appeal against the refusal of a summary judgment application for HK$1,000,000 in a dishonoured cheque. She also acted for the successful Defendant in resisting the summary judgment application before Master.

She is co-author of Atkin’s Court Forms of Hong Kong, Issue 82, Title II — Compromise & Settlement (LexisNexis, 2021) with Mr Simon Wong.

Find out more from Abigail’s profile.


This article was first published on 27 July 2022. 

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 photograph which appears in this article is included for decorative purposes only and should not be taken as a depiction of any matter to which the case is related.