A Singaporean woman who took a Hong Kong beauty chain to court over a HK$1.3 million treatment has been counter-sued for more than HK$10 million and an apology for defamation.
Perfect Medical Beauty Group on Thursday responded to Tan Lay Hong’s lawsuit in a writ filed to the High Court, accusing the customer of threatening staff and causing the publication of “seriously false” statements in newspapers widely read in Hong Kong and other parts of the world.
Tan had sued the group and its related companies, BK Medical Group and I-Media Asia, in the lower District Court last month, in which she demanded the defendants refund HK$1.3 million she paid in May 2014, and repeal the contracts she had signed with the company.
The latest legal action revealed the parties attempted to negotiate a settlement in September last year.
But lawyers for Perfect Medical Beauty Group said that during the negotiations, Tan told staff she had already made certain claims to her friends, which defamed the company.
They also claimed she had further threatened to speak of, or even publish those allegations, to news outlets if they did not agree to her requests.
Those claims were later published in local and Singaporean newspapers widely read by people who included the firm’s existing and potential customers.
The lawyers argued that Tan knew she was making false statements, but had done so with the intention to harass, embarrass or force the company into agreeing to her “unjustified fund request”, and to discredit its goodwill, integrity and ethics as a reputable establishment.
“Prior to the defendant’s malicious publication and/or procurement of publication of false words defamatory of and referring to the plaintiff, the plaintiff had an impeccable reputation in Hong Kong,” the writ said.
The writ also said Perfect Medical Beauty Group is a well-known company which has “successfully obtained a great achievement” by leading the beauty and slimming field with the highest market value in Hong Kong, since its inception in 2003.
It boasts a network of more than 50 service centres in Hong Kong, Macau and mainland China, with a rapidly growing customer base.
“As a result of the defendant’s malicious defamation, the plaintiff’s reputation had been seriously damaged. It suffered considerable distress and embarrassment.”
The company is now seeking more than HK$10 million in damages, an injunction barring further publications, and an order forcing Tan to apologise.