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Macau Casinos


Mar 24, 2014
In a recent case involving Venetian Casino Macau and one of its gamblers, the Hong Kong Courts have held that they do have the power to adjudicate over disputes arising between such casinos and its patrons where this is contemplated by the agreement.


Venetian Macau Ltd v Chen Mei Huan [2014] HKEC 147

Venetian Casino Macau and a Ms. Chen Mei Huan entered into an agreement to grant her credit facilities of HK$90,000,000.00. The Venetian subsequently started the current action claiming unpaid debts.
The Writ was served on Chen at her last known address in Hong Kong. The Venetian applied for summary judgment in September 2012, which was disputed by Chen. She applied for a declaration that the writ be set aside and that all proceedings in Hong Kong be stayed or dismissed in favour of proceedings in Macau.

Chen’s application for stay was based on the following grounds:-
  1. The Hong Kong court had no jurisdiction over the Action as there was an exclusive jurisdiction clause in favour of Macau one of the Agreements;
  2. Macau was clearly and distinctly the natural and appropriate forum, considering the best interests and convenience of the parties and the witnesses; and
  3. In the event that the Hong Kong court reasserted its jurisdiction, she had a bona fide defence.

 

Jurisdiction

The relevant Jurisdiction Clause stated that (1) legal proceedings by any party regarding the Agreements were to be commenced in Macau but that (2) the Venetian could institute legal proceedings anywhere else in the world if deemed necessary.

The judge stated that the Hong Kong court could interpret the Macau Code of Civil Procedure and the jurisdiction clause in the Agreements because the jurisdiction clause was in compliance with relevant provisions of the Code. He therefore rejected Chen's argument that the Jurisdiction Clause did not comply with the Code as it had to be read as a whole in defining the scope of the exclusive jurisdiction of Macau Courts. It only gave the Venetian the discretion to institute legal proceedings in other jurisdictions if Macau was not the appropriate forum; and did not wholly remove the jurisdiction of the Macau Courts.


Natural and appropriate forum

The Court found Hong Kong to be the natural and appropriate forum because all of Chen’s registered addresses, companies and assets were in Hong Kong. She had bank accounts in Hong Kong from which payments were made to the Venetian, despite the Agreements being executed in Macau. Also the location and convenience of witnesses was not a real concern given the ease of movement between Macau and Hong Kong.

Publication Date: 24th March 2014
 

For more information on Litigation & Dispute Resolution matters, please contact:-

Barry Hoy | barryhoy@robertsonshk.com | +852 2861 8415 

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