Clifford Chance Asia managing partner Peter Charlton was arrested last Thursday following a road accident in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong Chinese-language newspaper Ming Pao was first to report the collision, which occurred around midnight on Thursday 9 March. According to Ming Pao, Charlton was driving a Jaguar sports car after having consumed more than three times the legal limit of alcohol. His car crossed into the oncoming traffic lane of a road in Hong Kong’s Mid-Levels district and caused a head-on collision with a taxi. Ming Pao reported that no one was seriously injured in the accident.
Clifford Chance declined to comment on the incident, saying it was a personal matter for Charlton. The firm confirmed that Charlton is in the office and said that so far he had not been charged.
A statement issued by the Hong Kong Police Force said that Charltonwas arrested for drink driving as the concentration of alcohol in his breath was found to have exceeded the prescribed limit, but he was released on bail pending further enquiries and will report back to the police in mid-April 2012.
The breath test results by the police showed that Charlton’s breath contained 70mg of alcohol per 100ml of breath, three times the legal limit of 22mg per 100ml of breath. Hong Kong has strict laws against drink driving. Under Hong Kong’s Road Traffic Ordinance, the general maximum penalties for convicted drink driving include a fine of up to HK$25,000, imprisonment for up to three years and disqualification from driving for up to two years.
According to Hong Kong Law Society president Junius Ho, criminal convictions would affect lawyers’ ability to practise in Hong Kong. He explained to Ming Pao that if a member is involved in a criminal prosecution, the society’s disciplinary commission will start assessing whether the criminal record will affect the lawyer’s qualification.
Charlton was elected to the managing partner of Asia role in 2008 (8 September 2008) and relocated to Hong Kong from London, where he served as the firm’s global corporate head. Charlton currently holds a Hong Kong practising license and is dual-qualified in Hong Kong and England.