Half-yearly Report of the Consumer Legal Action Fund (1 April 2018 to 30 September 2018)

28 December 2018
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Introduction

 

This is a report about the financial status of the Fund and the progress of assisted cases for the period from 1 April 2018 to 30 September 2018.

 

Finance

 

During the reporting period, the total income and expenditure of the Fund were HK$284,290 and HK$606,382 respectively.  As at 30 September 2018, the total accumulated fund stood at about HK$16.88 million.

 

 

Report on cases

 

Overview

 

During the reporting period, the Fund received 11 new applications.  In addition, 5 applications were received prior to the reporting period and were under processing during the reporting period.  Amongst these 16 applications, 5 were declined, 9 remained under consideration and 1 was solved during application.   The Fund has granted assistance to 1 application.

 

Progress of cases

 

Cases Carried Over From Previous Year

 

  1. Headquarters and Professional Staff Cost Charged by a Management Company of a Residential Housing Estate

 

The assisted consumers, being individual owners of residential units of the housing estate, intended to seek a court declaration on the justifiability of the “headquarters and professional staff cost” charged by the management company. 

 

During the reporting period, the solicitors instructed by the Fund requested the management company to provide further accounting records to justify the “headquarters and professional staff cost”.  Since then, the management company maintained correspondence with the solicitors instructed by the Fund and the matter is still in progress. 

 

  1. Money Lender and Loan Broker – Claims of Misrepresentation and Deceit

 

The assisted consumer was allegedly misled by various misrepresentations made by a money lender and a loan broker into borrowing a mortgage loan. 

 

The money lender paid an agreed sum of compensation in full and final settlement of the assisted consumer’s claim.  Subsequently, the solicitors instructed by the Fund, on behalf of the assisted consumer, successfully obtained a judgment against the loan broker which did not defend the legal proceedings commenced.

 

  1. Beauty Products and Services – Recovery of Prepayment

 

The assisted consumer made multiple bulk prepayment purchases of beauty products and treatments from an international beauty brand over the years. While a substantial portion of the purchases was yet to be collected or consumed, she was informed that the beauty brand would cease operation in less than 3 months and was requested to collect and consume all the purchased products and treatments before operation ceased.

While the parties were negotiating for a settlement, the solicitors instructed by the Fund also prepared for the commencement of legal proceedings if the negotiation failed.

 

  1. Beauty Services – Aggressive Commercial Practices

 

The assisted consumer was allegedly pressurized into purchasing beauty services by a beauty salon’s aggressive commercial practices including charging her credit card without obtaining her consent.

 

During the reporting period, the parties exchanged witness statements and attended various pre-trial hearings.  With the consent of the Fund, the assisted consumer settled the case with the beauty salon satisfactorily and obtained an agreed sum of compensation.  

 

  1. Beauty Services – Unfair Trade Practices and Unconscionable Conduct

 

The assisted consumer purchased a beauty package as a result of the alleged misleading practice and unconscionable conduct of a beauty salon including failure to inform her of the price of the beauty package before commencement of the treatment. 

 

Shortly before commencement of legal proceedings, the assisted consumer informed the Fund that she wished to withdraw her intended claim against the beauty salon for personal reasons.

 

  1. Beauty Services – Unfair Trade Practices and Unconscionable Conduct

 

The assisted consumer purchased 3 very similar and expensive membership schemes in one single visit as a result of the alleged unfair trade practices and unconscionable conduct of a beauty salon.

 

During the reporting period, the solicitors instructed by the Fund issued a pre-action letter to the beauty salon which denied liability. Preparation for commencement of legal proceedings in the District Court was underway.

 

Newly Assisted Case

 

  1. Private Columbarium – Refusal to Allow Interment of Ashes

 

The assisted consumer purchased a niche from a private columbarium intending to inter the ashes of his mother after she passed away. Subsequently, the columbarium refused to allow the interment on the grounds that the deceased’s name stated on the receipt was different from that on her death certificate and ID card.

 

The Fund considered that the columbarium’s trade practice was unfair and the matter involved significant consumer interest.  Therefore, assistance was granted to the assisted consumer.  Shortly before the end of the reporting period, the Fund instructed solicitors to act for the assisted consumer to pursue legal action against the columbarium. 

 

Statistics

 

Annexure 1 to this report is a brief statistics of the Fund’s cases.