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A Seventh Child and The Law

A Seventh Child and The Law

Patrick Yu Shuk-siu
Copyright Date: 1998
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    A Seventh Child and The Law
    Book Description:

    The author comes from a distinguished family in Hong Kong. His father, Yu Wan, was an eminent figure in educational circles both before and after the Second World War. In Part I of this book, there is a detailed description of the unique circumstances under which the author, as a matriculation student, was awarded a government scholarship to enter the University of Hong Kong in 1938. Altogether unpredictably this started a chain of events which landed him in two wartime jobs in China: with British Naval Intelligence and the Chinese Nationalist Army respectively. After the war, he won a Victory Scholarship to further his education at Oxford and finally qualify as a barrister-at-law. He attributes his good fortune to being the seventh child of his father who was himself a seventh child. Hence the title of this book. Part II of this work consists of an accurate separate account of eight actual court cases handled by the author as Defence Counsel. These specially chosen and cleverly captioned cases all make fascinating reading, because each of them carries a distinct flavour of its own ranging from murder trials with an unexpected turn of events and a variety of fraud cases to an intriguing account of an attempt to set up an innocent traffic policeman which was only barely frustrated. The manner in which the defence in each case was conducted is of particular interest.

    eISBN: 978-988-220-272-6
    Subjects: Law

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-x)
    D.A.L. Wright and Patrick Yu Shuk-siu

    It is a unique occasion when one of Hong Kong’s most eminent and esteemed Counsel publishes his autobiography.

    Patrick Yu unfolds the story of a long life which, though not without its vicissitudes and setbacks, is full of interest, endeavour and achievement, and spans a momentous period of Hong Kong’s history.

    Of great interest is his account of school and university life in Hong Kong before the Pacific War, the early days of the Japanese Occupation of Hong Kong, and the hardships endured by himself and his family during wartime on the mainland of China. There is, additionally, an intriguing...

  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xi-xii)

    • Introduction
      (pp. 3-4)

      I stopped going to court in the early 1980s although I did not officially retire until some years later. I spent the next ten odd years idling and having very little, if anything, to do with law, but fully occupied with pleasurable pursuits of my own choice such as travelling, reading, racing, playing mah-jong, and more particularly, tinkling on my piano, no doubt to the utter chagrin of the fellow occupants of Bowen Mansions where I live.

      In the latter part of 1993, shortly before I departed for London to attend the wedding of my younger son Dominic, three members...

    • 1 Scholarship to England
      (pp. 5-6)

      In the early part of 1946, the Hong Kong government commemorated the capitulation of Japan by awarding five Victory Scholarships, advertised as such, to local students, with no strings attached, to further their studies at various universities in the United Kingdom. There were many applicants for the award, from whom seven were eventually chosen to share the five scholarships. I was one of the lucky seven. So was my younger brother Brian. In those days, air travel was far less common than now. Even travel by sea was severely restricted because of the large number of ships sunk during the...

    • 2 A Seventh Child
      (pp. 7-10)

      I was born on 22 August 1922. Not that I know anything about it, other than that my birth certificate says so. My parents had four sons and seven daughters. I was their third son and seventh child. My father was himself the seventh child of his parents. The Chinese believe that the seventh child of a seventh child is specially blessed. Over the years, I have certainly had a greater measure of good fortune than most of the people I know.

      My first clear recollections as a child came with Nos. 15–17 Upper Shelley Street (上些??). Until the...

    • 3 Wah Yan College and the Irish Jesuits
      (pp. 11-14)

      Walking every morning to Wah Yan and back again in the afternoon was not only good exercise. As I carried my books daily up Shelley Street across and beyond Mosque Street into Robinson Road, I felt sheer pride in being able to fend for myself at last, and no longer needing to be constantly watched over by my parents. Sharing a classroom with some forty other students was also a new and pleasurable experience. Hitherto attending classes at home with Ping Tsung alone had invariably given me an inferiority complex. The discovery that not a few of the other students...

    • 4 The Fairy Tale of My Matriculation
      (pp. 15-20)

      By June 1938, Ping Tsung and I had completed six and a half years of tuition from our Irish Jesuit mentors. Already the University of Hong Kong was beckoning to us as we prepared for our matriculation. The impending examinations did not pose much of a hurdle for either of us, and we had rather taken our eventual entry into the university for granted. One evening my father sent for Ping Tsung and myself. This was something he had never done before. In his private sitting room on the first floor of No. 17 Shelley Street, he disclosed that the...

    • 5 An Apology and Explanation
      (pp. 21-22)

      It was not without good reason that I went to such great length to describe my matriculation. Nor was the reason merely that it might make interesting reading. I was underlining the importance of two particular incidents each of which made a huge impact on my later life. The first was of course my unexpected scholarship, which had the immediate effect of altogether removing the financial obstacle to my joining the university. The second incident, consisting of my foolhardy refusal to defer my matriculation, had just as important a bearing on my life as the first, although its effect was...

    • 6 Mystery Unravelled
      (pp. 23-24)

      I had the most loving parents, who were, however, over protective to an incredible degree. They would readily not let any of their young children out of their sight, if that were possible, just to ensure from day to day that they did not come to any harm. While we were still at Wah Yan, my brothers and I had finally succeeded, after many futile attempts, in persuading our parents to let us play soccer with some of our classmates and friends on a large piece of open ground in Robinson Road during weekends and public holidays. Unbelievably, our parents...

    • 7 A Vintage Year
      (pp. 25-28)

      I met many outstanding people at the University of Hong Kong in 1938. In the Arts Faculty alone, there was already an imposing array of young talents from each of whom I soon discovered that I had much to learn. 1938 certainly seemed to be a vintage year for the students of Hong Kong.

      Oswald Cheung, now Sir Oswald Cheung, QC, better known to all his friends simply as Ossie, was a King Edward scholar of my year when he was only sixteen years of age. Immediately after the last war he became the headmaster of Diocesan Boys’ School for...

    • 8 The University of Hong Kong
      (pp. 29-34)

      For me, life at the Arts Faculty of the University of Hong Kong began with a somewhat unnerving experience. When I turned up for the first of my lectures, I was overwhelmed by the sight of nearly twenty pretty young ladies already seated in the lecture room, chatting, joking, laughing, and creating almost a minor disturbance. There were of course many male occupants in the room too, but in the company of the flamboyant members of the fair sex, their presence became barely noticeable. Hitherto my sisters and a couple of my cousins had made up the sole female company...

    • 9 The Fall of Hong Kong: Before and After
      (pp. 35-42)

      Time sped by almost unnoticed. By December 1941 Ping Tsung and I had expended three full academic years at the university, and had entered upon our fourth and final year. Those were very profitable years during which I could easily have acquired an excellent education. Instead, I merely had a wonderful time. In September 1940, younger brother Brian had joined us at Ricci Hall. He had in fact matriculated in 1939 at the precocious age of fourteen winning a scholarship in the process, but was denied admission into the University until the following year because he was too young. Meanwhile...

    • 10 The War Years (Part One)
      (pp. 43-52)

      While I was in Guilin, circumstances were totally unsuitable for employment of any kind to be undertaken. To begin with, I had my mother and two little sisters to look after. Besides, where we lived made it altogether difficult to go regularly to work. There was no road as such, but only a narrow winding footpath through the hills leading to our far-away humble residence. Whenever it rained, the sole means of access was nothing but mud and marshes, which rendered walking along it slippery and even dangerous, especially after dark. There were no street lamps of any kind. In...

    • 11 The War Years (Part Two)
      (pp. 53-60)

      For almost one week after my return to Qujiang, I lay sprawling face downwards on my bed in order not to aggravate the numerous cuts sustained around the seat of my anatomy. Several of them had turned septic, and for a couple of days I ran a fever from blood poisoning. Lying in bed during those few days did me a world of good. First and foremost, I badly needed to rest after the exhausting journey and to recuperate from my ugly wounds. What I appreciated most was the opportunity to do a little quiet thinking and planning for the...

    • 12 The War Years (Part Three): Drama in Huizhou
      (pp. 61-68)

      Within a week of the Japanese surrender, I was back in Qujiang. Qujiang was a sorry sight compared to what it had previously been. Everywhere partly burnt down or wholly destroyed buildings served as vivid reminders of the bloody battle which had taken place in the city less than a year before. Hardly any structure at the former site of the 7th War Zone H.Q. was left standing. At first opportunity I took a long walk to the northern outskirts where the British consulate had been situated. I was saddened to find the old consulate building and our family bungalow...

    • 13 A Very Merry Christmas
      (pp. 69-70)

      Christmas 1945 was a memorable occasion at Nos. 15–17 Upper Shelley Street. The occasion was, of course, also the 4th anniversary of the end of the Battle of Hong Kong. Our family had survived four years of war covering Hong Kong and the Chinese Mainland without having suffered any casualty; instead, we had been enabled to visit many interesting places, and to benefit from innumerable useful experiences. For these blessings we had truly to be thankful. Upon his return to Hong Kong, my father had resumed working in the Education Department where he was joined by SY Tong, the...

    • 14 Merton College Oxford
      (pp. 71-78)

      I wonder how many Chinese families have been represented for three consecutive generations at any college at Oxford. I feel singularly proud and fortunate that my father, I and my son Denis were all educated at Merton College, and cannot help hoping that our family tradition will, in the course of time, continue for yet more generations to come.

      The circumstances which led to my father pursuing his studies in England at all were unique, to say the least. In 1912, he had embarked on a sea voyage from Hong Kong to further his education in the United States of...

    • 15 Unique 1947 Friendship Ties
      (pp. 79-82)

      One summer morning in 1947, I returned to college to find the former Director of Education of Hong Kong, Mr Arthur Walton, who had awarded me my scholarship, waiting for me in my rooms. This was so unexpected that I was momentarily lost for words. With his customary charming smile he apologized for his intrusion, and explained that after arriving back in England the previous evening, he had on the spur of the moment taken the first train to Oxford in the morning to see how I was getting on at Merton. His manner was so overwhelmingly cordial and unassuming,...

    • 16 Changes in the Wind
      (pp. 83-86)

      In December 1945, before the Victory Scholarship Selection Board in Hong Kong, I had made it known that upon the conclusion of my studies in England, I intended to return to work on the Chinese mainland. I could not obliterate from my mind the ignorance and poverty I had seen in China during the war years, nor could I forget the sterling example of Lt.-General Lee Yen-wor of which I had personal knowledge. Hence I elected to do a second first degree in PPE at Oxford. I reckoned that an insight into the various systems of government in other parts...

    • 17 A Crucial Decision
      (pp. 87-92)

      Until the late 1960s there had been no law school in Hong Kong. Thus, for more than one and a quarter centuries after the cession of this island to Great Britain as a colony, anyone from Hong Kong aspiring to acquire a law degree at a university or to qualify for the Bar would have to travel all the way to the United Kingdom and stay there in order to attain his objective. Naturally not many people had the means, the knowledge, the opportunity, or the desire to do so. As a result, for a long time the local Bar...

    • 18 Wrangling with Officialdom
      (pp. 93-96)

      My scholarship had been awarded originally to do a full three-year course in PPE at Oxford. The approval of the proper authorities was naturally required before I could switch from that course.

      During my first term at Merton, a Mr Dussek wrote to inform me that the Colonial Office in London had taken over from the Education Department of the Hong Kong government the responsibility for all the Victory Scholars during their stay in the United Kingdom, and that he had been assigned specially to look after my general well-being and overall interest. A kindly gentleman in his sixties who...

    • 19 End of Oxford Sojourn
      (pp. 97-100)

      The summer break in 1947 and the month-long vacation following my second Michaelmas term at Merton had enabled me to catch up with all the necessary reading for the three Politics papers I did for Dr Gibbs as well as the two Economics papers for Mr McDougall. In the 1948 Hillary term, I tackled Philosophy for the first time. I also took on another paper, my third, in Economics. At the beginning of January 1948 a brilliant young scholar by the name of Matthews had been appointed Economics tutor at Merton. I found myself thoroughly enjoying working with him. As...

    • 20 Reading Law at Last
      (pp. 101-104)

      I saw Professor Lawson several times after the first occasion, and each time he rendered me useful assistance and advice. After getting me a Latin tutor, he specially acquired for me, at a fraction of the price which I would otherwise have to pay, a complete selection of secondhand law books which proved to be indispensable to my preparations for the Bar Examinations. Furthermore, since the Council of Legal Education lectures took too long to be of help, he suggested that I should attend instead a crammer’s course conducted by a firm of law tutors known as Gibson and Weldon...

    • 21 Discipline Rewarded
      (pp. 105-108)

      Until June 1948, I had known not a thing about Roman Law, Real Property, Trust, or Tort. To be ready by September 1948 for an examination in each of the four subjects was not in itself an easy assignment. Not having the benefit of any tuition in three of the four subjects naturally rendered it even more difficult. I had hoped to qualify for the Bar by May 1949 without fully appreciating the magnitude of what was involved. It was only after I began delving into my law books in the library of Lincoln’s Inn that I recognized for the...

    • 22 Leisurely Year of Pupillage
      (pp. 109-112)

      In Hong Kong, until our first law school was established in 1969 which enabled us to produce our own members of the Bar, pupillage had not been an institution commonly known, or a prerequisite to a barrister, whether qualifying in the United Kingdom or Ireland, being admitted to practise locally. Since then, however, serving pupillage has become a requirement to qualify any barrister for practice in our courts.

      In the early part of 1948, after I had been granted permission by the Colonial Office to read law, Professor Lawson asked me on one occasion whether I had thought of doing...

    • 23 Malayan Undertaking Contemplated
      (pp. 113-116)

      Until 1950, Malaya (now Malaysia) had meant little more to me than the name of a long peninsula in Southeast Asia known to have a wealth of coconut trees, rubber plantations and tin mines, an unending summer all the year round, and a mixed population consisting essentially of Malays and Chinese as well as some Indians and Tamils. From childhood I had been aware that living in Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaya, was an aunt of mine who was one of the two younger sisters of my father. Her husband, Yong Shook-lin, a Malayan Chinese and a native of...

    • 24 Year of Mixed Fortune in Malaya
      (pp. 117-122)

      After an absence from Hong Kong of nearly four years, I was naturally glad to be reunited with my parents in the early part of July 1950. My father was a proud and happy man sitting in court on the day I was called to the local Bar. The acting Chief Justice Bill Williams officiated. An Irishman who spoke Cantonese without a trace of accent, he went out of his way in his speech of welcome to me to recall how kind my father as his Chinese examiner had been to him in his younger days. My joyful reunion with...

    • 25 First Chinese Crown Counsel
      (pp. 123-128)

      Homecoming in 1951 was not nearly as jubilant for me as in the previous year. There was precious little to celebrate. My Malayan venture had ended in disappointment and failure; my father was badly upset; and one whole year had been wasted without any headway being made in my profession. Instead, the future was fully laden with anxiety and uncertainty. Back home I had once again to pin my hopes on practising at the Bar where the prospects remained altogether unknown and unpredictable. The irony was that when I told my close friends and relatives in Hong Kong that I...

    • 26 No. 9 Ice House Street Also Known as Holland House
      (pp. 129-134)

      Sir Oswald Cheung QC is one of my oldest friends. I first met him at a teenage party in 1937 when he was introduced to me simply as Ossie. I have since called him by no other name. In the following year we joined the University of Hong Kong both as freshmen in the Faculty of Arts where we attended various lectures together until the Japanese attacked Hong Kong in December 1941. During the war years, Ossie and I spent time separately in different parts of the Chinese mainland although for a short while we met up again in Guilin...

    • 27 My Family and the Bar
      (pp. 135-138)

      My family has had an intriguing history in the study and practice of law. In the days of the First World War, my father had enlisted as a law student at Gray’s Inn in London, but before he got any further with his legal education, unforeseen circumstances compelled him to return to Hong Kong thus effectively putting an end to any likelihood on his part of pursuing his career at the Bar. My eldest brother, Pak Chuen, on the other hand, took his Law Tripos at Pembroke College in Cambridge in the early 1930s, and was in due course called...

    • 28 The Institution of Silk
      (pp. 139-144)

      The institution of Silk is almost as old as the Bar itself. By creating a class of members with a higher ranking status called Queen’s Counsel, it has had the effect of dividing the profession into a Senior and a Junior Bar. The Senior Bar, sometimes described as the Inner Bar, comprises exclusively those former members of the Junior Bar who have been appointed Queen’s Counsel, while the Junior Bar is made up of the remaining ordinary members.

      By convention, members of the Junior Bar of not less than ten years’ standing can apply to be appointed Queen’s Counsel so...

    • 29 Looking Ahead
      (pp. 145-148)

      Now that 1 July 1997 has become a date in history, and Hong Kong has at law and in fact reverted to Chinese sovereignty, the world must be waiting to see whether, and if so, how far this novel idea of ‘one country, two systems’ is going to work out. To me, it seems that the very idea itself signifies nothing less than a healthy political as well as ideological acknowledgment of differences while allowing them to coexist in harmony. Such acknowledgment is the basis and beginning of democracy. Being an optimist, I cannot see how, given free rein and...

    • [Illustrations]
      (pp. None)

    • Introduction
      (pp. 151-152)

      The following is a collection of actual court cases in which I was involved as Counsel. To the best of my recollection and belief each account accurately reflects what took place in and out of court at the time. These eight cases are chosen primarily because each of them differs somewhat from the majority of run-of-the-mill criminal trials, and can be said to have a distinct flavour of its own. I have not included any civil case because civil procedure is a trifle technical and complicated, and makes tedious and laborious reading. Civil cases also take up too much space...

    • 1 The Case of the Suicide Pact
      (pp. 153-162)

      There are those who believe in the jury system, and there are those who do not. I have no reservations about belonging to the first camp.

      It is not without good reason that the jury system has survived the test of time in so many parts of the world. Its strength lies essentially in the fact that so long as humans cannot avoid misjudging or being biased from time to time, it is far less likely for all the members of a jury acting jointly to err than a single judge.

      However, this view is not always shared by judges,...

    • 2 The Case of the Midnight Court
      (pp. 163-174)

      Jimmy’s Kitchen is a restaurant in Hong Kong with an essentially Caucasian cuisine, situated on the ground floor of South China Building, No. 1 Wyndham Street. It may not be the favourite meeting place of gourmets and billionaires, but it is inexpensive, and commands a menu with a great variety of dishes including some with a Malaysian, Indian, as well as Chinese flavour, which entitles it to boast of a wide patronage and great popularity among the residents of Hong Kong.

      I am still a regular patron of Jimmy’s Kitchen at its current location, but I must say I remember...

    • 3 The Case of the Murder Trial without the Corpus Delicti
      (pp. 175-182)

      Just in case the reader knows as little Latin as I do, Corpus Delicti is the Latin for ‘dead body’.

      It must be difficult to imagine a murder trial without a dead body. The reason is simple. Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being with malice aforethought, and a dead body is the handiest evidence to prove death.

      Secondary evidence such as photographs of the dead body might be just as good, provided that they had not been doctored or tampered with, but there must still be a dead body in the first place.

      Jurists have often asked...

    • 4 The Case in Which the Crown Failed to Prove That Gold Was Gold
      (pp. 183-190)

      All that glitters is not gold. My son Denis, who is a fellow member of my chambers, tells me that the original saying was ‘All that glisters is not gold.’ Be that as it may, curiously that could be said to be the defence in a case of mine in or about 1960.

      In the years which followed the end of the Second World War, many parts of Southeast Asia were embroiled in either civil war, teething problems in self-rule, or other forms of political disturbances.

      During this period Hong Kong was one of the few places in this area...

    • 5 The Case of the Traffic Policeman and the Pak-pai Taxi Driver
      (pp. 191-202)

      Traffic cases are normally dull affairs. Wild car chases are of rare occurrence, and even if one does take place, it need not necessarily make the case any more interesting or exciting in the eyes of the law.

      The case I am going to write about, however, does have a number of unusual features which are of exceptional interest, and I do hope the reader will not be disappointed after reading my account of it.

      There was a time before the underground railway was constructed, when there was a distinct shortage of taxis and other forms of public transport in...

    • 6 The Case of the Ruptured Kidney
      (pp. 203-218)

      1967 was a truly traumatic year for Hong Kong.

      In the month of April, the Cultural Revolution in China, which had swept like wild fire through most parts of the mainland, reared its ugly head in this mainly Chinese populated colonial outpost of the British Commonwealth.

      Overnight, thousands of political agitators took to the streets. Wearing head and arm-bands, shaking their arms and fists, shouting anti-British slogans, and carrying pro-communist banners, they marched daily in thunderous but well-organized formation through the heart of town, taunting the authorities, and blatantly brushing law and order aside.

      At one stage those agitators even...

    • 7 The Case of the American Who Was in Two Places at the Same Time
      (pp. 219-234)

      No one, not even David Copperfield, the world famous illusionist, can be in two places at the same time. Thus, if an accused person who is charged with having committed an offence on a particular day, or at a particular time, can establish that he was on that particular day, or at that particular time, elsewhere than at the venue of the offence, he will be entitled, to say the least, to the benefit of the doubt, and be acquitted.

      The defence of alibi, however, is not free from drawbacks. For example, if the charge is murder, the defence of...

    • 8 The Case of the Hunter Who Became the Hunted
      (pp. 235-246)

      If I were asked which was the most extraordinary case I had ever handled, I would have no hesitation in naming the case of the Queen v. Augustine Chung. This was the summary trial of a solicitor in the Victoria District Court in Hong Kong in October 1975 for blackmailing for monetary gain, or, alternatively, attempting to obtain property by deception. At the time, I thought it deserved the epithet of being the case of the year. I see no reason to think otherwise today.

      Augustine Chung read Sociology at the University of Hong Kong in the 1960s with the...

  7. Index
    (pp. 247-250)