On 26 June 2009, a solicitor and a recovery agent were found guilty by the District Court for offering a "no win, no fee" deal to a mother seeking compensation for her son, who was severely injured in a road traffic accident. The recovery agent was also found guilty of champerty, that is, negotiating to receive a share of the proceeds of litigation in which he had no interest.
The case concerned a 51-year-old unemployed mother who agreed to the recovery agent’s deal to have the solicitor, Ms. Lo, represent her in her son’s personal injury case and in return, Ms. Lo would receive 25% of the compensation as legal fees if she won the case. The claim was settled out of court and compensation of HK$3.5 million was paid to the mother and her son. The recovery agent later requested the mother to pay HK$861,652 "as required by the deal". This was revealed when the mother made an application to be appointed as the head of the committee administering her son's estate.
Although there was no evidence that the solicitor had received any of the money, the Court held that without her involvement the agent would not have so easily obtained the payment. After considering whether the acts of the defendants may have encouraged the perversion of justice and endangered the integrity of the judicial process, and whether they posed a genuine risk to the integrity of the court, the judge found both Ms. Lo and the recovery agent guilty of conspiracy to commit maintenance (i.e. the support of litigation in which a party has no interest without just cause).
Ms. Lo was sentenced to 15 months of imprisonment and the recovery agent Ms. Cheung to 16 months on 9 July 2009.
This "no win, no fee" conviction is the first of its kind in Hong Kong.