Peter Lam denies favourite son status, asserts father’s mental soundness in Lai Sun Group inheritance case

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Insert picture: Peter Lam (left) and Pearl Lam (right). Background picture: Lim Por-yen

18th April 2024 – (Hong Kong) Deceased Lai Sun Group Chairman Lim Por-yen, was a prominent Hong Kong industrialist who played a significant role in the establishment of the Lai Sun Group and whose family held the largest stake in Asia Television. The ongoing inheritance dispute involving his estate took another turn as his second son, Peter Lam Kin-ngok, testified in court today (17th) asserting that he had been actively involved in his father’s company and was considered the second-in-command. However, when questioned about whether he was his father’s favourite son, Lam declined to describe himself as such. He stated that he participated in all aspects of the company’s affairs but stopped short of claiming to be his father’s most beloved child. Lam also revealed that he was unaware of a will drafted by his father in 1973, but he knew that his mother and company executives had discussed succession matters in the year preceding his father’s death.

The plaintiffs in the case, Vincent T.K. Cheung, Chow Pui-wa, and Fung Wan-yiu, initially served as the estate executors but were later replaced by Chow and Fung following Cheung’s demise. The defendants in the case are Lim Por-yen’s wife, Gu Shui-ying, and Pearl Lam. The plaintiffs allege that Lim Por-yen’s 2004 will, which stipulated that his second son, Peter Lam, would receive over HK$1.9 billion of the estimated HK$2.9 billion estate, should be validated by the court. The defendants, however, intend to challenge the validity of the will, leading the plaintiffs to seek court certification for the document.

Peter Lam, in his testimony, clarified that he would not describe himself as his father’s favorite son, despite his significant involvement in the company’s activities. When asked about his knowledge of a will drafted by his father in 1973 and a supplemental document from 1993, Lam claimed to have never been aware of the 1973 will and considered the 1993 document merely a declaration. The defense then questioned Lam about his father’s condition in June 2004, mentioning that Lim Por-yen had undergone a cardiac stent implantation surgery and subsequently suffered a broken arm from a fall at home, requiring hospitalization. Lam confirmed the events but insisted that his father’s mental state was normal, as he would occasionally inquire about the company’s affairs.

The defence countered by highlighting an assessment conducted by a doctor in August of the same year. According to the defence, Lim Por-yen scored only 8 out of a maximum of 30 points in the assessment, indicating a moderate to severe degree of dementia. Lam responded by stating that he was unaware of the evaluation at the time and only learned about it later.

The defence further claimed that Lim Por-yen had been prescribed medication for dementia and presented multiple medical records suggesting symptoms such as lethargy and slow reactions. Lam, however, stated that he did not know what medication his father was taking and emphasised that his conversations with his father indicated normal behaviour.

The defence accused Lam of making false statements, alleging that he was aware of his father’s severe mental condition but chose to attest to his father’s sound mental state during the will-making process for the sake of completing the document. Lam vehemently denied these accusations in court.