Perfecting transfer of land to a tong

Conveying land into the name of a tong, including the name of a sze lei (trustee or manager) in the conveyance, registering the conveyance and a list of members of the tong are effective steps to transfer land to a tong. The effect is to subject the property to a trust the beneficiaries of which are living male descendants of the relevant ancestor from time to time.

In Chu Tak-Hing v Chu Chan Cheung-Ki ([1968] HKLR 542) Chu Tak-Hing had various parcels of  land transferred to various aliases of his. In each case he specified the name of somebody as a sze lei (trustee or manager). These conveyances were registered. Chu Tak-Hing also registered lists of members of the relevant Tongs. It was held that the effect was to perfect the transfer of land to the Tongs. The land was no longer the private property of Chu Tak-Hing and did not form part of his estate. Conveying land into the name of a tong, including the name of a sze lei (trustee or manager) in the conveyance, registering the conveyance and a list of members of the tong are effective steps to transfer land to a tong. The effect is to subject the property to a trust the beneficiaries of which are living male descendants of the relevant ancestor from time to time. This judgment is interesting for its explicit attention to the relationship between Chinese customary law and section 15 of the New Territories Ordinance. It also considers the way of perfecting a transfer of land to a Tong and the effect of doing so.

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