Case Commentary

COMMERCIAL LAW – Hong Kong Court of First Instance refuses USD 600 million injunction application

On 16 June 2020, Deputy High Court Judge Le Pichon, formerly of the HK Court of Appeal, dismissed a USD 600 million injunction application in Pacific Andes Enterprises (BVI) Limited (in liquidation) and Others v Ng Joo Siang and Others [2020] HKCFI 1242.  The application was the latest skirmish in a long-running battle between the BVI liquidators of Pacific Andes Group and the Ng family.  The Pacific Andes Group was founded by the Ng family in the 1980s and until recently was the 12th largest seafood business in the world. The multi-billion-dollar dispute involves proceedings in numerous jurisdictions around the world including Hong Kong, Singapore, BVI, Cayman Islands, Peru, and the US Bankruptcy Court (SDNY).

After a two-day hearing, the learned Judge held that the Plaintiffs failed to establish that there was any risk of dissipation, which would warrant the making of a Mareva injunction.  In reaching her decision, the Judge made special mention of the unexplained delay of approximately four years in bringing the application; and the fact that no legal action had been taken against any of the Defendants after extensive investigations by the SFC, ICAC and CCB in Hong Kong and MAS and CAD in Singapore.  The Judge also held that the Plaintiffs had failed to establish any serious issue to be tried.  The case contains a useful discussion regarding the nature and extent of a defendant’s duty to assist foreign liquidators who have been granted recognition in Hong Kong under the common law.

The Court’s decision and the procedural history of the case are the subject of several news reports including an article by Debtwire.

A copy of the decision can be found here.

James Wood and Jasper Wong (instructed by Lipman Karas) represented the 2nd, 7th to 18th Defendants.

Wayne Walsh SC of Parkside Chambers and Natalie So of Temple Chambers (instructed by Robertsons) represented the remaining Defendants.

Laurence Li SC and Byron Chiu of Temple Chambers (instructed by Kobre & Kim) represented the Plaintiffs.