Village house owners given suspended jail sentence and fined for failing to comply with removal orders
Two co-owners were sentenced to two months' imprisonment suspended for two years and fined $149,400 at Fanling Magistrates' Courts on November 23 for failing to comply with removal orders, requiring the demolition of two adjoining unauthorised 4-storey village houses, issued under the Buildings Ordinance (Cap 123).
Earlier inspections conducted by staff of the Buildings Department (BD) revealed that a 4-storey building was under construction at Pan Chung Village, Tai Po. The Lands Department has not granted any approval to the building, which is not a New Territories Exempted House under the Buildings Ordinance (Application to the New Territories) Ordinance (Cap 121). The building was constructed without prior approval from the Building Authority, contravening section 14(1) of the Buildings Ordinance, and is therefore an unauthorised building. A removal order was then issued to the two co-owners of the building under section 24(1) of the Buildings Ordinance.
Later, the two owners built another 4-storey building adjacent to the earlier unauthorised building, again without having first obtained prior approval from the Building Authority in contravention of the Buildings Ordinance. Another removal order was therefore issued to the two owners under section 24(1) of the Buildings Ordinance.
As the owners failed to demolish the unauthorised buildings upon the expiry of the removal orders, the BD instigated prosecution against them. The owners pleaded guilty at the Fanling Magistrates' Courts and the court imposed a sentence of two months' imprisonment suspended for two years on both owners, plus a total fine of $149,400 on November 23. The Magistrate also cautioned the two defendants to comply with the removal orders without further delay, otherwise the BD will instigate prosecution against them again.
Failure to comply with a removal order without reasonable excuse is a serious offence under the Buildings Ordinance. The maximum penalty upon conviction is one year's imprisonment and a fine of $200,000, and a further fine of $20,000 for each day that the offence continues. Land owners must not defy the law and hold full responsibility to ensure the safety of their buildings.
Ends/Tuesday, November 29, 2016