A City University student who failed in an attempt to unseat a pro-democracy lawmaker was ordered by the High Court on Thursday to pay her legal fees.
The court on July 27 ruled plaintiff Mok Ka-kit would not be in a position to unseat lawmaker Lau Siu-lai as he did not vote in her constituency in Kowloon West. Mok emerged from the court unaware of the payment order until he was tackled by reporters, but he said it shouldn’t be a huge amount of money.
Asked if he abused the judicial review system, Mok said he didn’t lose the lawsuit completely. He also stressed that what he did was to defend the rule of law and justice.
Mok last November asked the court to disqualify, seeking a judicial review of Legislative Council secretary general Kenneth Chen Wei-on validating her oath on October 12 and of Legco president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen giving her a second chance to swear on October 18. Although Lau was unseated by the government in a legal bid earlier, Mok did not withraw his judicial challenge.
During her swearing-in, Lau spent eight minutes delivering her oath, deliberately pausing five to seven seconds between every Chinese word. She later said in a Facebook post that she did that to “manifest the falsehood of the oath”. The High Court on July 15 unseated Lau and three other opposition lawmakers - Nathan Law Kwun-chung, Edward Yiu Chung-yim and “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung - in the legislature for improper oath-taking. Mr Justice Thomas Au Hing-cheung found she breached the requirement to believe in what she was saying, and also failed to take the oath in the exact form and content required. The four needed to return their offices in the legislature before 5pm on July 28.
On top of individual legal bills of HK$1 million each, the four lawmakers also need to pay legal costs of HK$3 million to the Department of Justice. Only Leung was granted legal aid for help with his expenses. If the four have to repay all their salaries plus advanced payments to set up their offices, Yiu said he would file a civil lawsuit to ask the Legco to repay his professional consultant fees, which is more than HK$3 million.
Their disqualification followed an earlier court ruling to unseat pro-independence pair Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching. Baggio Leung and Yau have one more chance to overturn their Legco disqualification before the Court of Final Appeal next month.