Dependency Claim by Alleged Mistress Wholly Dismissed by the Court

Recent Judgments

31 August 2023

In LYYC v CHL and CSMS, the Executrices of the Estate of CGSK also known as CSKG, Deceased and Another [2023] HKCFI 1585, the Hon Madam Justice Bebe Chu dismissed an application by a former secretary of a deceased businessman (“Deceased”) for financial provision under s.3(1)(ix) of the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Ordinance (Cap 481) against the executrices of the Deceased (1st Respondent) after a 10-day trial.

The case involved complex and novel issues on both fact and law, including:-

(i) How the Deceased’s mental incapacitation of 6 years prior to death affects how the alleged relationship of dependency is to be understood;
(ii) The nature of decisions of the Deceased’s mental health committee (“Committee”) and their relevance to the Applicant’s dependency claim;
(iii) Whether the Applicant has locus standi to bring the claim under section 3(1)(ix) of Cap. 481 as a person who was being maintained by the Deceased “immediately before his death”, when there is no dispute that the Deceased ceased to make any payments to the Applicant 6 years prior to his death.

After reviewing the case law on Cap 481, including Jelley v Iliffe [1981] Fam 128 and In re Beaumont (deceased) [1980] 1 Ch 444, the Judge dismissed the claim for the following reasons:

(i) The Applicant did not have any locus standi, having abandoned the Deceased and brought their relationship to an end some 5.5 years before his death. She failed to show that she was being wholly or substantially maintained by the Deceased and/or that the Deceased was, otherwise than for full valuable consideration, making a substantial contribution in money or money’s worth towards her reasonable needs, and/or that the Deceased had assumed responsibility for her maintenance or financial provision.
(ii) Appointing a committee to manage the finances of a mentally incapacitation person is a way to give effect to the “wishes” of that person. There is no reason to suggest that the Committee’s decision was not made in the Deceased’s best interests. As such, there is no basis to challenge the Committee’s decision to sell a property which was bequeathed by the Deceased to the Applicant in a codicil in circumstances where it was necessary to resort to its sale proceeds to maintain the Deceased during his years of incapacitation.

The Judge also found in favour of the 2nd Respondent, who intervened into the proceedings to assert her beneficial ownership (and that of her brother’s) over a property held by the Deceased through two companies.

Bernard Man SC, Theresa Chow, and Cristian Tsang, instructed by Ip & Heathfield, acted for the 1st Respondent in securing the dismissal. Natalie So, instructed by Zhong Lun Law Firm LLP, acted for the 2nd Respondent.

For the full judgment, please view here.

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