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High Court paves way for Erwiana to claim $809k in damages from ex-employer

02 November 2021

By The SUN 

Erwiana, shown here on her sickbed in 2015 (r) after repeated abuses by Law

A High Court judge has rejected attempts by Law Wan-tung and her estranged husband Barry Chui to block a bid to use the employer’s share in a Tseung Kwan O flat to pay $809,430 in damages awarded to abused helper Erwiana Sulistyaningsih.

The couple issued four summonses in relation to decisions made on Dec 5, 2019 and on Dec 4, 2020 by Recorder Stewart Wong, pertaining mainly to the lifting of  a charging  order on the property jointly owned by Law and Tsui to cover payment for Erwiana's damages.

After ordering the dismissal of the summonses, Wong directed that the charging order on the flat be removed by the Land Registry. He also ordered Tsui and Law to jointly pay the court costs.

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“Taking into account the items claimed and the response from those acting for Law, I summarily assess the costs at $220,000, for which Tsui and Law are jointly and severally liable,” the judge said.

He said Erwiana’s own costs would be taxed in accordance with Legal Aid regulations.

The order effectively allows Erwiana's damages as determined by the District Court in its ruling on Dec 20, 2017, to be paid from Law's half-share in the flat located in Beverly Garden in Tseung Kwan O, said to be worth $7 million.

Two years before this, Law, who was her contractual employer, was ordered jailed for six years but was allowed early release on Nov 22, 2018, after being imprisoned for more than three years. She had been detained since her arrest in February 2015.


Separately, Law was ordered by the District Court on Feb 27, 2018 to pay $170,000 in damages to another Indonesian helper, Tutik Lestari Ningsih, who was subjected to false imprisonment and assault while in Law’s employ from Apr 2010 to Mar 2011.

Erwiana with Mission for Migrant Workers' Cynthia Tellez, after being awarded damages in 2017

Law’s first summons on Dec 13, 2019 applied for leave to appeal the Dec 5 decision lifting the charging order. Then she filed another summons on Jan 13 last year to apply to vary the costs order out of time.

Tsui separately filed a summons on Jan 5 this year to apply for an extension of time to appeal against the decision.

The fourth summons was filed by Law on Jan 28, 2021 applying for an extension of time to appeal against parts of the decision.

In his decision dismissing the summonses, Wong also gave his reasons for dismissing Law's application to inhibit himself from the case. He also ruled that Erwiana did not have to be included as a party in the summonses before the charging order could be lifted.

Summarizing the cases, the judge said the summonses were set to be heard by him on Apr 21 this year but the hearing was reset for Sept 29.


During that hearing, Law’s then lawyer, Ching Ming-yu, said that the convicted employer had petitioned for bankruptcy at the District Court but no order was made on her application. Ching also said he no longer had instructions to appear for Law.

As for Tsui, Wong took him to task for being “unhelpful, uncooperative and even obstructive” that made service of documents to him by Erwiana’s solicitors difficult. The lawyers said that Tsui became unreachable, then later said he  he could receive the documents only a day before the hearing. 

The judge’s decision cited points where Tsui acted “inexcusably and in blatant disregard” of his order and that of Deputy High Court Judge MK Liu, such as when he failed to comply with deadlines for filing an affirmation of facts pertaining to service of documents to Erwiana. 


After failing to meet the 14-day deadline for filing the affirmation from the time of Wong's judgment on Apr 21, 2021, Liu asked for an extension of time. Liu allowed the application, but told the applicant to comply by June 14. However, he only complied with the order on Sept 28, a day before the adjourned hearing. 

“I disapprove of such conduct of Tsui in the strongest term,” he said.  

But most importantly, Wong said he was dismissing Law's application for leave to appeal the Dec. 5, 2019 decision releasing the charge order, as she failed to raise any new grounds to indicate that an appeal against the order had any reasonable prospects of success.

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