4. Can I obtain what I want if I win the case?
Remember, even if you win your case and obtain a court judgment in your favour which awards you all sums which you have claimed, there is no guarantee that you will be able to recover all the sums that have been awarded by the court.
Before you start a legal action, it is important to consider at the outset whether or not the person, firm or company you are going to sue is likely to be able to pay you if you win the civil action. If they
- are unemployed, bankrupt or wound up;
- have no money of their own; no personal property and nothing else of value belonging to them (such as a car) which is not hired or subject to a hire purchase or lease agreement;
- have ceased to trade;
- have already been taken to court by others and have not paid; or
- have other substantial debts to pay,
you may have little chance of getting your money even if you win a civil action.
The Official Receiver's Office at 10 th Floor, Queensway Government Offices, 66 Queensway, Hong Kong (Telephone no: 28672448) will be able to tell you whether a person is bankrupt, or whether a limited company is in compulsory liquidation/winding-up (meaning that the company has stopped trading and probably has neither money nor other assets). Limited companies can also be wound-up voluntarily. To check whether a company has been wound up voluntarily, you can contact the Companies Registry.
On the other hand, you may be able to get some money if you are prepared to accept small instalments over a period of time. You should therefore try to negotiate with your debtor (or the defaulting party) for payments by instalments first, before considering going to court.