The High Court has dismissed an appeal by former China tour guide Yang Yin to set aside a wealthy widow’s new will and have the application reheard.
Yang had argued that there was a procedural failure in the proceedings as the judge had denied his lawyers the chance to cross-examine witnesses that gave evidence supporting the statutory will application.
In April last year, the Family Justice Courts had recognised a new will made by 89-year-old widow Madam Chung Khin Chun, where most of her assets worth an estimated $40 million would go to charity. The new will replaced an earlier one made in 2010 where Yang stood to inherit everything.
Among other factors, the court had decided to recognise the new will based on evidence by several witnesses that Madam Chung had made the 2010 will under the undue influence of Yang.
In a judgment released on Monday (April 18), High Court judge Judith Prakash said Yang had the opportunity to call upon witnesses for cross-examination but did not do so.
Yang also wanted to call upon two key witnesses – the lawyer who had prepared the 2010 will and a prior one in 2009, as well as the doctor who had examined Madam Chung before she executed either will.
He asked for a “retrial” so that these witnesses could cross-examined before the court decides whether undue influence had been be exercised in the making of the 2010 will.
Justice Prakash pointed out that Yang was also given ample time to consider if he wanted to call on witnesses for cross-examination, but elected to leave that decision to the courts.
She also noted that Yang had failed to rebut “serious” allegations that the earlier will was made under undue influence and fraud.
“Nowhere in his affidavit did the appellant(Yang) actually assert, for instance, that he had allowed P (Madam Chung) free choice in her decisions…,” said Justice Prakash.
“This was a surprising position to adopt, at any stage in the proceedings, in response to allegations which were both serious and specific.”
Yang, 42, is currently in remand after being denied bail in October 2014. His criminal trial is scheduled to start later next month.