Deng Suet Yan v Hong Kong Housing Authority
Court of Appeal
Civil Appeal No. 4 of 2017
Lam V-P, Cheung and Kwan JJA
7 July 2017

Appeal Panel (Housing) – decision upholding decision of Housing Authority to issue notice to quit – whether breach of Tameside duty to investigate by Appeal Panel (Housing)

X was a tenant of a public housing unit. The Housing Authority served a notice to quit on X for failure to retain regular and continuous residence in the unit. X’s appeal to the Appeal Panel (Housing) (the “Panel”) was dismissed. The Panel rejected laboratory test reports adduced by X showing that a volatile organic compound in the air and the water in the unit exceeded certain standards as adequate to prove the unit was uninhabitable; and noted that X had decided to live in mainland China. X’s application for judicial review of the Panel’s decision was dismissed for lack of merit. X appealed, on the ground of inter alia a failure to investigate X’s case, in breach of the Tameside duty.

Held, dismissing the appeal, that:

  • The Panel had asked the right questions and considered the relevant evidence. On a proper analysis, it was more a matter of the Wednesbury rationality of the Panel’s assessment of the evidence than its discharge of the Tameside duty. The Panel had no duty under the Housing Ordinance (Cap. 283) to conduct its own inquiry. Its function was simply to hear and decide an appeal under s. 20 thereof. It had no duty to advise a party of his failure to adduce sufficient evidence to support his appeal or to direct him to obtain further evidence; and probably no power to direct investigations by third parties.
  • It was reasonably open to the Panel, on the available evidence, to conclude that X’s case on the habitability of the unit was not established. Accordingly, there was no breach of the Tameside duty by the Panel.

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