Justin Ismail

BARRISTER

Call: 2016

Justin is developing a broad practice spanning all of Chambers’ main practice areas, with particular interests in land and building-related matters, landlord and tenant disputes, general company and commercial disputes, and cases involving civil fraud. He also has ample experience in other chancery work.

Justin is regularly instructed to appear as sole counsel across all levels of the High Court as well as the Lands Tribunal, and is frequently instructed to appear as part of a larger team in more substantial cases. His practice also involves a wide range of advisory work. 

Justin speaks Chinese and Mandarin and has a working knowledge of French and Spanish.

RECENT HIGHLIGHTS

Highlights of Justin’s recent or current work include:

  • Ng Yuk Pui Kelly v Ng Lai Ling Winnie (as the executor of the estate of Dung Wai Man, Deceased) and ors [2021] HKCFA 40 (reported in (2021) 24 HKCFAR 401). Instructed as junior counsel for the plaintiff in the Court of Final Appeal, in an important case examining the scope and application of the doctrine of contractual estoppel (with Anthony Ismail). Also instructed as junior counsel in the substantive appeal in the Court of Appeal [2021] HKCA 724 (reported in [2021] 5 HKC 1); sole counsel in the Court of Appeal resisting the application for stay pending appeal and for leave to amend the appeal notice [2021] HKCA 134 (reported in [2021] 1 HKLRD 1037); and junior counsel in the 21-day trial [2019] HKCFI 210.
  • Lam Kin Chung v Soka Gakkai International of Hong Kong Ltd [2022] HKCA 480 (reported in [2022] 4 HKC 202). Instructed as junior counsel for the company in the Court of Appeal, in the first appellate case to determine whether a member of a charitable company has standing to bring a derivative action under ss 732-734 of the Companies Ordinance (Cap. 622) in respect of wrongs done to it, and the first to hold that a member of a charitable company in Hong Kong must exercise his voting rights consistently with his fiduciary duty owed to the charitable objects of the company, following the UK Supreme Court’s decision of Lehtimaki and others v Cooper [2020] UKSC 33 (commonly known as “the Children’s Investment Foundation Fund (UK) (“CIFF”) case”) (led by Ambrose Ho S.C. and Michael Yin). Also instructed as junior counsel in the Court of First Instance [2018] HKCFI 747 (reported in [2018] 2 HKLRD 769 and [2018] 4 HKC 489).
  • Leung Wai Ling Isewesg v Success Base Engineering Limited [2021] HKCA 310 (reported in [2021] 4 HKC 80). Instructed as sole counsel for the plaintiff landlord in the Court of Appeal, in a case concerning a dispute over the scope of a landlord’s obligations under a tenancy agreement. Also instructed in the Court of First Instance [2020] HKCFI 163.
  • 黎偉雄 v信和物業管理有限公司 (Sino Estates Management Company Limited) & anor LDBM 61 of 2020 (heard through June to July 2022, pending judgment). Instructed as sole counsel for the respondent building manager in a 5-day billingual trial in the Lands Tribunal concerning the construction of a Deed of Mutual Covenant and alleged breach of manager’s duties.
  • Emperor UA Cinemas Limited v Lark China Cinemas Investments Limited [2022] HKCFI 2316. Instructed as sole counsel for the plaintiff company in the Court of First Instance, in a successful application for an injunction to restrain the defendant from presenting a winding-up petition based on a statutory demand.  
  • Leelan Rukesh Marasinghe v Director-General of Civil Aviation [2022] HKCFI 2843. Instructed as junior counsel for the applicant in the Court of First Instance, in an application for leave to apply for judicial review of the Director’s decision to suspend the applicant’s medical certificate thereby rendering him unable to perform his licensed functions as a commercial pilot (led by Robert Whitehead S.C. and Thomas Lee).
  • Re Lee Yang, Shiu Chuen Joyce [2021] HKCFI 2468 (reported in [2021] 4 HKLRD 252 and [2021] 6 HKC 515).Instructed as sole counsel for the applicant in the Court of First Instance, in a case concerning the grant of vesting orders for shares in a company previously held on trust by nominal companies that have been dissolved. The decision is of considerable interest and practical importance in light of its clarification of the law and procedure as regards joining the Secretary for Justice (or Attorney-General in a foreign jurisdiction) as a respondent before property can be properly vested in a beneficiary under s 52(1)(b)(iii) of the Trustee Ordinance (Cap. 29).

Justin read Law at the University of Oxford and went on to receive his postgraduate degrees from the University of Hong Kong. He took a Distinction in the Master of Laws and was awarded the Woo Po Shing Medal in Law for civil and criminal advocacy, as well as the Middle Temple Advocacy Scholarship. He was a part-time tutor on the PCLL civil advocacy course at HKU from 2021-2022.

Prior to joining the Bar, Justin worked for a top silk at a top-tier chambers in London. On his return to Hong Kong, he successfully completed his pupillage under the supervision of Ambrose Ho S.C., Abraham Chan (now Abraham Chan S.C.), Edwin Choy (now Edwin Choy S.C.) and Andrew Mak. He commenced practice in 2017 and joined Rede Chambers as one of its first tenants in 2022. 

OTHER NOTABLE CASES

Building

  • Advised on a question of interpretation arising out of ss B12.7 of the Code of Practice for Fire Safety in Buildings 2011 (led by Benjamin Yu S.C.).

Companies

  • Re Jetlag Limited HCMP 766/2018 (ongoing). Instructed as junior counsel for the applicant in the Companies Court seeking relief under an unfair prejudice petition (with Joyce Leung). Also instructed as junior counsel in the related actions of HCA 834/2020 and HCA 835/2020 (with Joyce Leung).

Civil fraud

  • Zief Incorporated v Tekchandani Ajai Mohan and ors [2021] HKCFI 38 (reported in [2021] 3 HKC 69). Instructed as junior counsel for the plaintiff in the Court of First Instance, in a case concerning restitution of funds mistakenly remitted to a third party recipient as a result of fraud (with Joyce Leung).

Commercial disputes

  • Goldteam Group Ltd v Qin Hui [2021] HKCFI 2422 (reported in [2021] HKC 708). Instructed as junior counsel for the plaintiff in the Court of First Instance, in a case concerning the recovery of a loan debt of over HK$150 million (led by CY Li S.C.). The decision clarifies a vitally important point of procedural law, namely whether service of a writ within jurisdiction is valid where a defendant, who is not within jurisdiction at the time a writ is delivered, nonetheless acquires knowledge of it at the time and subsequently returns to jurisdiction prior to its expiry.
  • Maxim’s Caterers Limited v Max Joy Asia Limited DCCJ 6137/2019 (ongoing). Instructed as sole counsel for the plaintiff in the District Court in an upcoming trial for breach of a services contract.
  • To Yuk Fung v Wu Pun Yan [2020] HKCFI 400. Instructed as junior counsel for the defendant in the Court of First Instance concerning an appeal against a master’s decision on costs (led by Paul Lam S.C.).

Insurance

  • Lo Siu Wa v Employees Compensation Assistance Fund Board and anor [2018] HKCFA 3 (reported in (2018) 21 HKCFAR 8 and [2018] 2 HKC 40). Instructed as junior counsel for a major insurance company in the Court of Final Appeal, in a case concerning the breadth of coverage of an insurance agreement understood in the context of the compulsory insurance scheme under Part IV of the Employees’ Compensation Ordinance (Cap. 282) (with Anthony Ismail).

Landlord and tenant

  • Re UA Cinemas Circuit Limited HCCW 99/2021. Instructed as sole counsel for the applicant landlord in the Companies Court seeking (1) leave to commence proceedings against the respondent tenant company (formerly a well-known company running a chain of cinemas in Hong Kong) upon its presentation of a winding-up petition and (2) an order for immediate possession of premises.
  • Jade Mate Limited v Chickeeduck Retail (Hong Kong) Limited HCA 1344/2020. Instructed as junior counsel for the plaintiff landlord in the Court of First Instance seeking an injunction to remove an unauthorised article from the defendant tenant’s shop premises (led by CY Li S.C.).

Personal Injuries

  • Advised on the quantum of damages to be awarded to a person falling within the “Disaster” category of personal injuries (assisting Alice Mok Q.C., S.C.).
  • Advised on the prospects of a claim for tort against the person arising out of an incident during the period of social unrest in 2019 (assisting Alice Mok Q.C., S.C.).

Probate and administration

  • In re the estate of Herman Hendrik Alberts[2019] HKCFI 2900. Instructed as sole counsel for the applicant in the Court of First Instance in a 2-day trial to resist the invalidation of a purported will and to obtain a grant of letters of administration.

Public law / judicial review

  • Chao Wei Ting Ronna v Appeal Tribunal (Buildings) (interested party: Building Authority) [2019] HKCFI 2950 (reported in [2020] 1 HKLRD 467). Instructed as junior counsel for the interested parties in the Court of First Instance in a judicial review of a decision of the Appeal Tribunal (Buildings) (with Anthony Ismail).
  • Building Authority v Appeal Tribunal (Buildings) (interested parties: Freedom Pacific Limited, Wave Treasure Investment Limited) [2018] HKCFI 2761 (reported in [2019] 1 HKLRD 513). Instructed as junior counsel for the interested parties in the Court of First Instance to resist a judicial review of a decision of the Appeal Tribunal (Buildings) (with Anthony Ismail). Also instructed as sole counsel to vary a costs order nisi [2020] HKCFI 1245.

Town planning

  • Town Planning Board v Town Planning Appeal BoardFACV 8/2016 (unrep., 16.02.2017) (reported in (2017)20 HKCFAR 196 and [2017] 2 HKC 372). Instructed as junior counsel for the interested parties in the Court of Final Appeal, in a case concerning whether the Town Planning Board has jurisdiction under s 17 of the Town Planning Ordinance (Cap. 131) to review its own decisions on the fulfilment of conditions imposed when granting planning permission (led by Anthony Neoh S.C. and Anthony Ismail).

Other

  • Advised a major U.S. corporation on the consumer protection regime in Hong Kong as well as the interrelationship between representative proceedings brought under RHC O.15, r.12 and the class action regime brought under U.S. law (assisting Ambrose Ho S.C.).
MORE CASES

EDUCATION

  • PCLL, University of Hong Kong (2014-2015)
  • LLM, University of Hong Kong (Distinction) (2013-2014)
  • BA in Jurisprudence (now MA), Corpus Christi College, Oxford (2010-2013) 

SCHOLARSHIPS AND PRIZES

  • The Middle Temple Advocacy Scholarship (2019)
  • The Woo Po-shing Medal in Law (for best performance in criminal and civil advocacy) (2015) 
  • Runner-up, Oxford Hong Kong Mooting Competition (2011 & 2012)

LANGUAGES

  • Mandarin, French and Spanish (working knowlege)

APPOINTMENTS AND MEMBERSHIPS

  • Tutor (part-time) in Civil Advocacy (PCLL), University of Hong Kong (2021-)

SEMINARS

  • Recent SFC Enforcement Actions in Ramp and Dump Cases”, CPD lecture (given at Messrs. Haldanes) (with Norman Nip S.C., Adrian C.K. Wong and Roger Phang)
  • Judicial review against decisions of the Building Authority”, Law Lectures for Practitioners 2019 (held by the Faculty of Law, University of Hong Kong) (with Anthony Ismail)
  • Plugging the Expectation Gap: The Future of Charities Regulation in Hong Kong”, CPD lecture (given at the Legislative Council) (with Ambrose Ho S.C.)