Tales from No.9 Ice House Street

Tales from No.9 Ice House Street

Patrick Yu Shuk-siu
Copyright Date: 2002
Pages: 184
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  • Book Info
    Tales from No.9 Ice House Street
    Book Description:

    In Tales from No. 9 Ice House Street, Patrick Yu takes up his story as he returns to Hong Kong to become the first Chinese Crown Counsel. Thereafter he tells of the years in which he established himself as a most successful advocate in private practice. His story is enriched with anecdotes of his legal life and reminiscences of the many people with whom he came into contact. In the second part of the book, he recounts in his lively and intriguing way a series of the court cases in which he was involved as an important member of the Hong Kong Bar. The cases have surprising twists that the defence counsel-cum-storyteller deploys to surprise the reader. There are also unusual topics such as 'The Case of the Young Man Who Impersonated a Police Officer', or 'The Case of the Solicitor Convicted of an Offence Not Known to the Law'. These read like classic detective stories, while also shedding light on life and the law in Hong Kong. Whether telling of his own life, recalling people with whom he came into contact, or telling the legal stories of the second part of this book, Patrick Yu again shows himself to be a notable raconteur and one whose life has provided him with many fascinating stories to tell.

    eISBN: 978-988-220-286-3
    Subjects: Law

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-x)
    Anthony C. Yu

    Connoisseurs of film and literature know that sequels are usually inferior products. Think of such Hollywood classics as Psycho and The Magnificent Seven or such pre-modern Chinese masterpieces as The Journey to the West (西游记) and Dream of the Red Chamber (红楼梦) and one realizes that those numerous subsequent attempts to best or equal them have tended to fail dismally.

    The present book, however, is a pleasing exception because it is a continuation by the same author, of a single, unified story only partially recounted in A Seventh Child and the Law. Whereas that first book’s autobiographical narrative concentrates on...

  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    • Introduction
      (pp. 3-6)

      I never planned to publish any autobiography or memoirs. When in 1993 I began writing up some of my prehistoric court cases, it was for fun and no other purpose than to keep myself more usefully occupied, after having idled away some ten years of my happy retirement. Nothing was further from my mind than to publish what I had written until my good friend Leslie Wright, a fellow member of the local Bar, literally coerced me into doing so. Underlining the fact that no one had hitherto written any book on lawsuits and legal proceedings in Hong Kong, he...

    • 1 Reminiscences of a Crown Counsel
      (pp. 7-22)

      I doubt if the appointment nowadays of any government counsel or lawyer other than the Secretary for Justice, the Solicitor-General, or the Director of Public Prosecutions would attract much attention, if any, from the general public. Not so fifty years ago when for a very long time under the British colonial government various appointments had, as a matter of policy, been denied altogether to the local Chinese, and a clear line of demarcation was drawn between so-called expatriate and non-expatriate government employees with overwhelming discriminatory terms favouring the former.

      Thus when in the latter part of November 1951 John Bowes...

    • 2 The Start of a New Life
      (pp. 23-28)

      If the year 1951–2 was memorable for me as first Chinese Crown Counsel, 1953 was no less unforgettable as the year in which I began my career proper as a private practitioner at the then tiny hitherto little known local Bar. I remember feeling almost like venturing into No-Man’s-Land.

      The seniority of a barrister dates from the day he is admitted to practise in the courts of the place and not from the day he actually commences practice. Upon my return to Hong Kong from England, I was called to the local Bar in the month of July 1950...

    • 3 Room 404, No. 9 Ice House Street
      (pp. 29-40)

      The title of this book, and of this chapter in particular, may be somewhat puzzling to the reader, because, search as he may, he will no longer be able nowadays to locate any building answering the description No. 9 Ice House Street anywhere in town. A multi-storey block by that name had existed, however, for some considerable time until 1987 when it was pulled down for redevelopment. Since then it has been replaced by a taller new building renamed as No. 9 Queen’s Road Central even though it stands on the same old site, namely, at the corner of Ice...

    • 4 More Selections from Album of Memories
      (pp. 41-54)

      In the 1930s and the early 1940s, I had aspired at different times to do a variety of things in later life. It was hardly surprising that none of those aspirations materialized.

      At Wah Yan College I idolized my Irish Jesuit mentors and longed to be one of them. I loved drama and the cinema, and sometimes wondered whether I would make a good stage actor or film star. Soccer was my favourite sport, and I could not help hoping to become a champion footballer like Lee Wai-tong (球李堂) who, before the war, was an outstanding centre forward playing for...

    • 5 Room 711B: The Last Episode
      (pp. 55-66)

      Room 711 on the seventh floor of No. 9 Ice House Street had an area of some 700 square feet and for a number of years used to be tenanted by a local firm of importers and exporters by the name of Much More (多多公司). By the second half of 1954, Much More’s business had become much less and its management decided to reduce drastically the size of the staff it employed as well as the premises it occupied. Accordingly, Hong Kong Land divided Room 711 into two halves by putting up a partition wall between them. While Much More...

    • [Illustrations]
      (pp. None)
    • 1 The Case of Law Or and the Misreported Abortion Trial
      (pp. 69-82)

      An abortion is the termination of the pregnancy in a woman. The law in Hong Kong permits a registered medical practitioner to procure any such termination if two registered practitioners are of the opinion that it is in the interest of the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman to do so. In recent times, public opinion is known to have veered very much in favour of abortions, especially when sought by the pregnant women themselves, so long as they are performed in recognized and properly equipped hospitals. As a result, prosecutions for abortions are rare nowadays. As late...

    • 2 The Case of the American Gangster Who Bribed the Jury to Convict Him
      (pp. 83-86)

      There was a time when gangster warfare was of daily occurrence in various parts of America. Cold-blooded shooting causing death would frequently be followed by infamous attempts to rig or influence juries upon those responsible for the killings being charged and tried for the offences committed.

      In one instance, a gangster shot one of his rivals dead after an argument in a bar in the presence of witnesses. He was duly arrested and charged with murder. While awaiting trial, he was advised by his lawyer and fully appreciated that in the circumstances and on the indisputable evidence available, the best...

    • 3 The Case of the Queen’s Counsel Who Was a Gentleman
      (pp. 87-88)

      There was a time in the 1950s when it was common knowledge that any ordinary citizen in Hong Kong seeking a driving licence would have to pay a bribe before he could qualify for one. Negotiating and paying these bribes would invariably be done through a third party who, more often than not, would be none other than the citizen’s professional driving instructor. For a while the epithet ‘大公司’, that is to say, the Big Company, was a household name used to describe a group of these professional driving instructors who were operating and monopolizing this corruption racket with underhand...

    • 4 The Case of the Murder Trial without the Corpus Delicti (Meaning Dead Body)
      (pp. 89-94)

      This was one of eight cases described in great detail in my first book, A Seventh Child and the Law. Since its publication, I have received a number of letters from lay readers expressing concern why under our law someone such as the accused in that case could be allowed to leave court altogether a free man, and asking tactfully and politely whether, as defence counsel who had secured the acquittal of the accused, I share their concern.

      On looking back, I should have set out my views and feelings on this aspect of the matter in my first book....

    • 5 The Case of the Eye-Blinking Barrister
      (pp. 95-98)

      Lawyers come up against all kinds of experiences in court. Some of those experiences are pleasantly memorable, others less so, while yet others positively distasteful. The following is an account of one of my past experiences which fell within the third category, although the ending was a happy one.

      On that occasion, I was defence counsel for a businessman who was charged with having knowingly made a false report to the police. He admitted to having made the report but denied knowing that any part of it was false, as he himself had been misled by a subordinate of his....

    • 6 The Case of the Young Man Who Impersonated a Police Officer
      (pp. 99-104)

      Strange happenings take place all the time in different places including public dancehalls and courts of law. The following is a true story which started in a dancehall and ended in an appeal court in Hong Kong.

      On one occasion, I was retained as defence counsel for a young man accused of impersonating a police officer in the Tonnochy Dancehall. Tonnochy is one of a large number of dancehalls in Wan Chai at which dance music is provided together with food and beverages for which customers would naturally have to pay at the end of the evening. In addition, female...

    • 7 The Case of the Twelve £1 Million Cheques
      (pp. 105-106)

      Some tales, however humorous and interesting, are quickly forgotten. Others are more meaningful and leave the listener with a pleasant, warm, lingering feeling.

      A touching real-life story came to light in the early part of 1950 after a practising member of the chambers where I was serving my pupillage in London had passed away. I very much regret I can no longer recall his name.

      This barrister lived in the north of London and from day to day travelled by the underground to go to work. Every morning on his way to the tube station, he would stop by a...

    • 8 The Case of the Ruptured Kidney
      (pp. 107-124)

      The following is a murder trial and another of the eight court cases described in my first book, A Seventh Child and the Law. Since its publication, I have received not a few letters from interested readers enquiring politely but with great concern whether to my knowledge as defence counsel for the first accused, my lay client, and/or the second and third accused in the case, had in fact been responsible for causing the death of the deceased. If not, whether the police officers and men at Wong Tai Sin Police Station should instead have been charged. It is in...

    • 9 The Case of the Defendant with High Cheekbones
      (pp. 125-126)

      Cross-examination is a very useful weapon in the armoury of every lawyer but even the best-planned cross-examination can be thwarted by unforeseen circumstances.

      On one occasion, I defended a young man charged with attempting to snatch the handbag of an elderly lady and causing her to fall and injure herself. The defendant was arrested running away from the scene of the offence where a crowd of bystanders had gathered. He denied the charge and maintained that he was not running away but instead giving chase to the offender when he was wrongly arrested. In other words, he maintained that the...

    • 10 The Case of the Foreign Litigant Who Wisely Refrained from Bribing the Trial Judge
      (pp. 127-128)

      This is no more than just another amusing story about lawyers, judges, and foreign litigants.

      A foreign litigant kept asking his solicitor in the middle of a somewhat long and difficult case how he weighed the chances of an ultimate victory. The solicitor time and again responded with the same answer, namely, that it was impossible to gauge the prospects because everything depended on whom the trial judge would more likely believe and, so far, he had given no indication whatever as to how he felt about the matter. Meanwhile, the trial continued on its normal course and there was...

    • 11 The Case of the Solicitor Who Was Convicted of an Offence Not Known to Law
      (pp. 129-144)

      There is nothing novel, unusual, or wrong about witnesses in a trial before a court of law getting paid. The law permits it, and judges have every so often expressly ordered it. But such payments are normally intended only to defray travelling expenses and sometimes to compensate for the loss of time or income incurred as a result of the witnesses having to attend court. They are not calculated to influence the nature of any evidence to be given.

      The nature of the evidence to be given by any witness is primarily governed by the oath he has to take...

    • 12 The Case of the Court Interpreter Who Loved to Show off His Knowledge of English
      (pp. 145-148)

      Court interpreters play an important role in legal proceedings in any country whenever more than one language is spoken. Inevitably, the administration of justice from time to time depends to a large extent on their expert knowledge of the different languages involved, and the accuracy of their interpretation of the evidence given in any particular language.

      As of today, the majority of our judges and barristers are no less proficient than our court interpreters in either Chinese or English so that occasional errors in interpretation of statements made by witnesses would more often than not be instantly detected and corrected....

  7. Index
    (pp. 149-154)