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On the application of section 58(2) in general, the judge had the following observations:

I accordingly find that where a person is in breach of a Court order and another person, being

entitled to the benefit of that order, wishes to enforce the order, then, by virtue of the

provisions of s.58(2) of the Data Privacy Ordinance, a data user is exempt from the provisions of

data protection principle 3 and may supply the information upon appropriate request.


Likewise in AAB No.20/2010, a plaintiff obtained judgment in a District Court action

against the complainant for payment of a certain sum with interest and costs. The

plaintiff’s solicitors sent letters to the complainant’s work address found on the website of

the Securities and Futures Commission for demanding payment of the judgment debt.

The AAB took the view that the failure to pay a judgment debt in accordance with a

judgment of the Court was a civil wrong and a “seriously improper conduct” within the

meaning of section 58(1)(d). The rationale in M v. M applied with equal force in the case,

as similar provisions leading to the committal of a judgment debtor could also be found

in the Rules of the District Court. The AAB finally concluded that such use of the address

to locate the complainant and to enforce the judgment debt against her was for the

purpose of the prevention, preclusion or remedying of a seriously improper conduct

within the meaning of section 58(1)(d) and was thus exempted from DPP3 under section



In contrast, the failure to honour a cheque by a person, without evidence of fraud or

dishonesty, might not per se amount to “seriously improper conduct” justifying invoking the

exemption under section 58(1)(d), as ruled by the AAB in AAB No. 14/2004. The appeal

concerned the disclosure by a licence issuing authority to a government department,

which was the applicant’s employer, that a cheque for payment of the licence fee had

not been honoured upon presentation. The AAB took the view that the licence issuing

authority could not avail itself of the exemption under section 58(1)(d).


In Lily Tse Lai Yin & Others v. The Incorporated Owners of Albert House & Others [HCPI

828/1997] (decision on 10 December 1998), the plaintiffs claimed damages in respect of

an accident involving a collapsed canopy. In an application in chambers, they applied

for non-party discovery against the Director of Buildings, the Director of the Urban

Services Department and the Commissioner of Police, for the inspection of certain files

held by them. It was contended on behalf of the respondents that the disclosure of

those files to the plaintiffs would give rise to a contravention of DPP3 in relation to

personal data contained therein.


In his judgment, Suffiad J. ruled that the use of personal data in a civil action for

damages resulting from the collapse of the canopy would fall within the meaning of

“the remedying of unlawful conduct” under section 58(1)(d). The learned judge said,

Firstly, I note that (sic) in section 58(1), the use of the word “crime” in paragraph (a) and the

word ‘“offender” in paragraph (b). This to my mind suggest (sic), therefore, that the use of the

words “unlawful or seriously improper conduct” in paragraph (d) extend (sic) beyond criminal

conduct to include civil wrongs. Secondly, the use of the word “remedying” in paragraph (d) is

again suggestive of the same thing. The most natural meaning that can be given to the word

“unlawful” is that it normally describes something which is contrary to some law or enactment

or is done without lawful justification or excuse. (See R. v. R. [1991] 4 All ER 481 per Lord Keith of

Kinkel at page 484.)