Final Appeal Allowed in Lo Siu Wa v. Employees Compensation Assistance Fund Board & Anor [2018] HKCFA 3

February 2018

Our Litigation and Dispute Resolution team, led by Ms Brenda Lee, Managing Partner, represented a Hong Kong statutory body and succeeded in the recent landmark Court of Final Appeal case of Lo Siu Wa v Employees Compensation Assistance Fund Board & Anor [2018] HKCFA 3 (FACV 12/2017). The case has wide impact on the coverage and interpretation of employees’ compensation insurance policies and other statutory compulsory insurance schemes.

The Plaintiff was a carpenter employed by an interior design firm, and was injured in the course of his employment while carrying out carpentry work. An employees’ compensation insurance policy was taken out by the employer, who subsequently went into liquidation.

The structure and drafting of the policy in question are commonly found amongst employees' compensation policies in Hong Kong. Whilst the scope of cover clause includes all employees in the insured’s immediate employ in the business, the occupation of the Plaintiff was not within the policy schedule, for the employer regarded him as self-employed.

Issues of general and public importance arise due to the different interpretations of the policy, in particular, whether the injured Plaintiff was an employee covered by the policy in the context of the statutory compulsory insurance scheme under the Employees’ Compensation Ordinance Cap 282 (“ECO”).

The Court of Final Appeal unanimously held that the policy did cover the Plaintiff. The word “business” in the policy included carpentry works. Construction work such as carpentry, which executed the designs produced by the employer, was ancillary to the principal business stated in the policy. Given the potential criminal liability of an employer under ECO for failing to insure, generous interpretation should be given to the meaning of “business”.

It was also found that the policy covered not just those employees stated in the policy schedule. In particular, the reason why the insurer needed to know the full particulars of all employees and to be informed of material change in the number of employees, was that all these employees were covered by the policy.

For copy of the Judgment, please visit