The Court of Appeal recently refused a defendant (who resides outside Hong Kong) permission to appeal a trial judge's decision not to allow her to give evidence by videoconferencing facilities at trial. Apparently, the defendant had been reluctant to travel to Hong Kong from Beijing (where she resides) to attend the trial because of concerns about the COVID-19 public health pandemic. Both the trial judge and the Court of Appeal appear to have been unimpressed by the defendant's application.
In A1 v R1 a novel point appears to have arisen as to whether the High Court could grant Norwich Pharmacal relief in relation to the disclosure of documents and information concerning a bank account held not in Hong Kong but with the overseas branch of a Hong Kong bank. The Court of First Instance decided that it did have such power and, in doing so, reviewed the usual procedures for the grant of Norwich Pharmacal orders against a bank and the general principles that underpin ex parte applications.
The Court of Appeal recently reviewed what appears to have been a novel point regarding which party in civil proceedings has the burden of proving that a witness is competent to give evidence at the time of giving evidence. The decision of the first-instance judge and Court of Appeal on the principal point in dispute accords with what is the commonly held understanding – namely, that it is for the party calling a witness to prove (if challenged) that their witness is competent.
In a recent case, the Court of First Instance ordered a bank to disclose certain records that it held relating to two of the defendants. In this judgment, the court noted not only that there were cost efficiencies to be had by providing electronic disclosure, but also that banks should not in effect be making a profit from complying with disclosure orders. While, in this instance, the plaintiff had agreed to pay the bank's costs, the amount of those costs (per account and per page) appears to have raised judicial eyebrows.
In a recent case, the Court of Appeal allowed the defendant's appeal against a lower court's finding that he had made a false statement of truth with respect to an admission in a defence filed on behalf of a company. As is normal in such appeals, the Court of Appeal was reluctant to disturb a lower court's primary finding. However, in this case, the Court of Appeal considered that the lower court had been plainly wrong to make an order for committal for contempt of court.