Tales from No.9 Ice House Street
Publication Year: 2002
Published by: Hong Kong University Press, HKU
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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...
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Acknowledgements are mere tokens of appreciation. More often than not they fall short of conveying the full extent of the gratitude felt. When my first book, A Seventh Child and the Law, was published in 1998, a superb contemporaneous Chinese translation by Victoria Woo made it available to a much wider readership than otherwise, for which I have yet to thank her.
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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...
1. Reminiscences of a Crown Counsel
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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...
2. The Start of a New Life
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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...
3. Room 404, No. 9 Ice House Street
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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...
4. More Selections from Album of Memories
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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,...
5. Room 711B: The Last Episode
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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...
1. The Case of Law Or and the Misreported Abortion Trial
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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...
2. The Case of the American Gangster Who Bribed the Jury to Convict Him
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(This is no more than an amusing story of no truth whatever, and not meant to be in any way a reflection or satire on American society, its legal profession, or its jury system.) 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...
3. The Case of the Queen’s Counsel Who Was a Gentleman
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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...
4. The Case of the Murder Trial without the Corpus Delicti (Meaning Dead Body)
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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...
5. The Case of the Eye-Blinking Barrister
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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...
6. The Case of the Young Man Who Impersonated a Police Officer
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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...
7. The Case of the Twelve £1 Million Cheques
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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.
8. The Case of the Ruptured Kidney
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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,...
9. The Case of the Defendant with High Cheekbones
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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...
10. The Case of the Foreign Litigant Who Wisely Refrained from Bribing the Trial Judge
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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...
11. The Case of the Solicitor Who Was Convicted of an Offence Not Known to Law
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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...
12. The Case of the Court Interpreter Who Loved to Show off His Knowledge of English
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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...
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Page Count: 184
Publication Year: 2002