banner news

BC&C acts for Erwiana in her successful lawsuit

Hong Kong, 19 January 2018: Boase Cohen & Collins, in acting for former domestic helper Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, has welcomed a pair of landmark court rulings that have brought victory in her civil claim against her abusive ex-employer.

First, the District Court awarded Erwiana HK$809,430 in damages from her former boss, Law Wan-tung, who is serving a six-year prison term for subjecting the Indonesian helper to seven months of abuse in 2013 and 2014.

Then, in a separate hearing, the High Court ruled that Law had tried to offload assets in an attempt to place herself in debt and so avoid paying her former employee. A transaction in which Law transferred half her share of a HK$7 million flat to her husband was declared invalid by the court.

Boase Cohen & Collins represented Erwiana in her civil claim and Consultant Melville Boase, a long-time advocate of overseas workers’ rights, welcomed the rulings. “The District Court judge described the former employer’s mistreatment of Erwiana as ‘inhumane, degrading and abhorrent’ and the court awarded her the full amount of damages she was seeking,” he said.

“The High Court then ruled that the former employer’s attempt to transfer her share of the flat to her husband constituted an act ‘with intent to defraud creditors and to obstruct or delay the execution of any judgment’. It means the damages can be claimed against the value of the share in the flat.”

Mr Boase, co-founder of BC&C in 1985 and Treasurer of the Mission for Migrant Workers since 1981, hopes Erwiana’s successful legal fight will increase public awareness of the plight of many of Hong Kong’s 330,000 domestic helpers, the majority of whom come from Indonesia and the Philippines.

“The criminal trial three years ago heard graphic details of the physical and mental abuse to which Erwiana was repeatedly subjected. While an extreme case, sadly this sort of ill-treatment is not isolated. It is well documented that many helpers are overworked, are forced to sleep in cramped conditions in their employer’s home and face a legal system which is stacked against them,” said Mr Boase.

“There remain fundamental issues at the heart of domestic helpers’ rights which the Government has failed to address despite years of criticism. Erwiana’s courageous actions in pursuing her civil claim will hopefully bring these long-standing issues to wider attention and increase pressure on the Government to act.”

Erwiana PHOTO

Erwiana’s case and her campaign for justice generated considerable media coverage.