Now what a lot of us were afraid of has really happened. Three small investors were forced to give up suing a tycoon because they did not have the money to continue.
In 2008 the big conglomerate CITIC Pacific lost a hugh amount of money because of bets on the Australian dollar. Its stock slumped 55% in one day. Many people who thought its was a well-run company lost big.
Three small investors sued the CITIC Pacific boss in the Small Claims Court, where the claims are for less than $50,000 and lawyers are not allowed. They claimed that the boss made false and misleading statements even when the losses were taking place, leading them to invest in the company while unaware of the company’s blood-letting.
The (former) boss asked for the case to be moved to the High Court, claiming that the case was too complex to be investigated by the Small Claims Court. The Small Claims Court has now agreed. The three small investors don’t have the money for the legal fees necessary to pursue the lawsuit in the High Court. They are forced to give up.
Everything sounds so logical. But the stark reality is: if you don’t have the money, rich people can step over you (perhaps they did not mean to, you just happen to be in the way), and you cannot even complain. That is justice, Hong Kong style.