Proper representatives of an estate consisting of a share in the assets of a wui

In Man Leung v Man Yuet Kwai ([2013] 2 HKLRD 1122, CFI) a share in a wui had been left by H to ‘Fuk Ma’. The main question was whether, as a matter of fact, this referred to just one of H’s wives (Madam To) or to all three. It was in essence a dispute between those descended from  Madam To and the descendants of another wife. All of the wives died some time ago. The contest was between the descendants in the male line of Madam To (who alleged that only they were entitled) and those of a concubine or third wife who argued that they too were entitled to a share along with the descendants of the second wife. The descendants of Madam To succeeded. On the facts, ‘Fuk Ma’ referred only to their mother.

Devolution of the interest was governed by Chinese customary law ([143]). It was common ground between the parties that the share would pass to the descendants in the male line of Fuk Ma once the identity of the person or persons so referred to had been established.

Even though the assets of Madam To’s estate comprised a share in a wui, the estate had to be administered in accordance with ordinary Hong Kong law.  No probate or letters of administration had been granted in respect of Madam To’s estate([150] – [151]). The share in the proceeds of sale of the wui land belonging to Madam To’s estate could not be paid out until lawful personal representatives of Madam To had been appointed.

Michael Lower

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