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Hong Kong Probate & Trusts Law: Court strikes out daughter’s claims for beneficial interest in late father’s properties and for breach of contract against the brother

Hong Kong Probate & Trusts Law

In Wu Ming Wai Alice v Simon Wu Ming Fat and Others (HCA 329/2021), the Plaintiff claimed that, upon her father’s death, she became entitled as beneficial owner to the sale proceeds from a residential home which allegedly formed part of his estate. The Plaintiff also argued that the 1st Defendant, her brother, failed to honour an agreement to pay her and the mother after selling the residential home. She sought, among others, an account for breach of trust and wrongful conversion of the properties, and payment pursuant to the agreement.

The Master struck out these claims on the grounds that the Plaintiff had no locus to sue on behalf of the estate and/or in her capacity as beneficiary, and that her pleadings in support of the action on the alleged agreement with the 1st Defendant is defective. Abigail Liu appeared for the 1st to 5th Defendants.

The two properties in question are a shop and a residential home (“the Properties”). The Plaintiff’s case is that:

  • Her late father was, for a period of time, the sole beneficial owner of the Properties. He subsequently transferred the Properties to two companies which held them on trust for him.
  • Upon the father’s death in 2004, the Plaintiff should be entitled to the interest in the Properties as they formed part of his intestate estate.
  • The 1st Defendant later sold the residential home and, without informing the Plaintiff beforehand, took out a second mortgage on the property and never accounted for the proceeds.
  • There was also an agreement between the Plaintiff and the 1st Defendant that he would pay her and their mother a certain sum after the sale of the Property, but he failed to do so.

The Plaintiff claimed against the 1st and 2nd Defendants, among others, an account for breach of trust and wrongful conversion of the Properties (“the 1st Claim”), and payment pursuant to the agreement (“the 2nd Claim”). The 1st to 5th Defendants applied to strike out these claims.

The Master agreed with Miss Abigail Liu, Counsel for the 1st to 5th Defendants, that the Plaintiff is not an executrix and therefore lacks locus to bring the 1st Claim on behalf of the estate. Even if she sued in her own capacity as a purported beneficiary of the deceased’s estate, her failure to join the personal representative of the deceased’s estate renders the action irregular.  She also failed to show any special circumstances which allow her to bring the action as a beneficiary.

In relation to the 2nd Claim, the Master found the Plaintiff’s pleading deficient in failing to disclose sufficient material facts that support an enforceable and actionable contract.

Accordingly, the Court struck out these claims on the grounds that they disclose no reasonable cause of action.


Abigail Liu acted for the 1st to 5th Defendants.

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.

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 7 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.