Electrifying deal

Freshfields has been appointed as the legal adviser to the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand for phase one of the privatisation of its thermal power plants. Shares in the privatised power companies are expected to be floated initially on the Thai stock market in 1997. Freshfields will be coordinating the work from its office in Bangkok.

Hong Kong silk bankrupted by damages granted leave to appeal to Privy Council

Former Hong Kong barrister Michael Ford has been granted leave to appeal to the Queen's Privy Council over a £30,000 damages award that was obtained against him by former clients.

Ford, who is receiving pro-bono advice from Irwin Mitchell senior partner Michael Napier, commercial litigation partner Ellen Yee-Man Windsor and barrister Lord Thomas of Gresford QC, was bankrupted by the events following a 1992 explosion at a Hong Kong power station.

Ford represented the China Light and Power Corporation and Exxon Corporation after their jointly-owned hydrogen plant exploded killing two engineers and injuring 19 staff.

He was seeking advice from the local and the English Bar Council over the instructions that China Light and Power were giving him when he was sacked by them.

CLP then went on to sue Ford in the Hong Kong High Court for the cost of a publicity campaign to counter allegations of a cover-up of the explosion, details of which had allegedly been contained in confidential evidence retained by the barrister.

Both parties appealed the decision in the Hong Kong Appeal Court, with CLP arguing that the damages awarded were too low. Both appeals were dismissed.

Now the Privy Council has allowed an appeal, although there is a race against time because the council will cease to have jurisdiction over Hong Kong after the Chinese take over on 1 July 1997. However, Ford's team is hopeful the case will come to court in the next two or three months.

Ford, who is back in England, is also suing CLP parent company Exxon and its attorney, in a US court, for damages to his reputation arising from the affair.