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Looking for advice - being threatened by construction company

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  1. #1

    Join Date
    Jul 2018
    Posts
    8

    Looking for advice - being threatened by construction company

    Hi - I own a restaurant here in HK, being new the F&B business I am looking for some advice.

    I hired a construction company (by recommendation) a year ago with proper written contract. Everything was okay until the restaurant was ready to be launched.

    The construction company claimed that I owe certain amount of money, on top of what I've paid initially as agreed in the contract. So we sat down and went through all the expenses and receipts. However, in fact, the total amount of all the receipts was far less than what I've paid. This was last time I've seen them in person (last year winter). They refuse to provide any type of receipt or records of spending. Also, the food license expert was referred by this company but immediately dropped the food licence application, which caused a huge damage to my business.

    Since then, they have claimed additional amount of money (500K more) and have threaten myself and my family. They have sent "friends" and debt collectors to my private space as well as the restaurant. I've been making a multiple police reports throughout the year with voice recordings, CCTV footage, whatsapp, and emails. On top of that, even though I have all the records of bank transfers, the workers came to my shop to complain and threaten me that they were not paid.

    Recently, the shop has been vandalized. The police is now taking it more seriously and it is now considered a crime case. The police suggests I contact a lawyer in parallel to their investigation. Can someone please give advice for legal actions? Have any of you experienced something similar before with your business / shops? I feel that it's not the construction company's first time to scam someone like this.

    So far, I've tried to go to governments free legal advice but still need to wait 8 weeks or so.
    I feel unsafe and terrible for my family and staff. Can someone please give me advice...


  2. #2

    Join Date
    Aug 2013
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    1) Do you have records of the payments you actually made - bank statements etc?
    2) Consider engaging lawyers to sue them for tortious intimidation, harassment and property damage.

    moonmist and Coolboy like this.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Jul 2018
    Posts
    8

    Thank you for your advice.

    1) Yes - all proper bank statements with names
    2) Any recommendations for lawyers specializing in this kind of matter? (F&B) I am not sure where to even start..


  4. #4

    Join Date
    Jul 2018
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    .


  5. #5

    Join Date
    Jun 2019
    Posts
    3,675
    Quote Originally Posted by moonmist:
    .
    As other have said, follow-up with the police so that the construction company will face prosecution. But to do so, you would need to have all the evidence on hand, conviction is based on proving beyond a reasonable doubt after all. So you must ensure you get all the evidence, the written contract, all the payment records, etc, plus any record of the criminal intimidation you claimed.

    And as other suggested, also lawyered up yourself and ask advice on a civil suit. Since the other party does not appear willing to resolve this through legal means, you might as well pony up the cash for legal services. It will be worth it in your case. As to which firm, there are many to choose from. Some may not necessarily cost as much as befor given the depressed economy at the moment and competition for clients between firms. The big local ones like Woo Kwan Lee and Lo or Li & Partners or P.C Woo and Co should have lawyers with the expertise you want.
    Last edited by Coolboy; 15-06-2020 at 08:14 PM.
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  6. #6

    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Posts
    922

    When you meet a lawyer discuss installing cctv outside your restaurant for evidence of any future damage.

    traineeinvestor likes this.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Jul 2019
    Location
    Kwai Chung
    Posts
    26

    Hi moonmist,

    Agree with Coolboy that you when you come to the lawyer, you should be ready for starting a civil action.Below is the link on how you start a civil action, which should a good place to start with
    https://www.clic.org.hk/en/topics/ci...f=geoexpat.com

    To save your time and cost, in my experience, you may start with

    • Records and proofs as evidence resulting damages in monetary terms; damages = potential claim amount when you approach to the court, and you want to maximize the success rate;


    • Conduct necessary company search of the construction company, try your best in digging out all the people involved; two reasons, first - you don't want the company to go for bankruptcy as an escape route upon you win the case, second - when you can serve legal correspondences to all individuals of the company, the impact is definitely better than only sending to the company address;


    • Work closely with the police; although the police side is following up on the criminal side of affairs, the civil action taken by your side is closely related to each other; for example, the evidence you found, the company search records you obtained is beneficial to police investigation; on the other hand, police's investigation might also benefit your civil action, believe me, the police and your law firm will not exchange information automatically;


    • Protect yourself, your staff and your family; CCTV at your restaurant and your home are mandatory; buy everyone a sound guard (SOS Buzzer) as a personal security measure should be considered, mainly to achieve three points, first - you want everyone to be alerted, second - just in case, if anything happened, you want to avoid and prevent things go bad, third - you take this chance to debrief them all about what is going on, in return, take this chance to listen from them as well;


    This is tough, but you are not alone.
    Any assistance you need, don't hesitate to pm me or leave your message here, I will try my best to provide relevant resources to help you get through, so don't be a stranger, all the best!!
    shri, hullexile, Coolboy and 3 others like this.

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Nov 2016
    Posts
    188

    If you are a foreigner, then the first thing is that this doesn’t surprise me too much. Having lived overseas (mainly in different parts of Asia) I have learned that it’s not the best thing in the world, or the easiest, to open up a business in a foreign country. All the red tape plus all those bribes etc! This sounds to me, like a typical shakedown. To try and extort or threaten you so they can get MORE money out of you. You see, if you are from the US or Europe or Australia, they think of us as walking ATM machines! You need to get a good solid lawyer. You will have to pay for one. Sorry. But remember, “You get what you pay for”. If you want to still pursue opening up your restaurant then good luck. Think about it. Is it worth putting your family through this too? Besides yourself? Try something else. Really think about it though. Best.

    moonmist likes this.