Rita Ku

Partner

Rita is a partner in the divorce and family team, and she is also the Regional Divisional Leader of the Dispute Resolution Team in Hong Kong.

Having practiced family law for over 18 years, Rita has extensive experience and knowledge in dealing with a wide range of family dispute cases, concerning jurisdiction, divorce, children, ancillary relief etc.

She regularly advises on various ancillary relief cases involving complex asset holdings structures, as in the Court of Appeal case of WYSL v FHCBA and Ors [2019] HKEC 2379 which involved trust structures and in which the client was successful at the Court of Appeal on quantum. She has been involved in cases involving trusts for many years, including the landmark case in the Court of Appeal of W v H and Anor [2009] HKFLR 230 in which an HSBC trust was set aside and taken into account to provide for her client, the wife. This case is also one of the leading Hong Kong cases on the consideration of whether a husband could be said to have made a special contribution financially to the marriage.

In her work for wealthy families, Rita has dealt with a number of cases involving third parties including an application for Maintenance Pending Suit which involved third party financial assistance: CWCC v YKOP (Maintenance Pending Suit and third parties) [2018] HKFLR 320, and HJFG v KCY [2012] 1 HKLRD 95 which is the leading case on Maintenance Pending Suit in Hong Kong and which remains the highest interim maintenance award to date.

Many of Rita’s cases involve a requirement to seek extensive discovery and she has led a number of mega financial cases often involving multiple parties, some of which include BVI and Cayman litigation and many involving the PRC. For example in AWK v MLTH [2016] she successfully defended the Husband’s position on Wife’s unreasonable request of financial disclosure.

Many of Rita’s cases involve cross border issues, particularly with the PRC, such as the leading jurisdiction case of ML v YJ [2010] HKEC 1924, which went to the Court of Final Appeal. This case changed the law in Hong Kong in respect of a party’s ability to apply for financial provision following a foreign decree. In CL v ZRC (Jurisdiction; forum non conveniens) [2015] HKFLR 125, the husband was found to have a substantial connection with Hong Kong but the PRC was the more appropriate forum. She also acted for the husband’s father, the patriarch from a well-known Hong Kong family, in respect of assets held in the PRC, successfully protecting those assets for the client: DX v LN & Ors (Anti suit injunction) [2015] HKFLR 525.

Recently Rita was in the Court of Appeal representing a husband who had moved to Singapore for work and who was at the receiving end of a Prohibition Order from the lower court. She succeeded in lifting the order on the basis that it violated his right to work and his right to movement and travel which was protected under Article 31 of the Basic law: CWYJ v LTYE (Prohibition Orders) [2020] HKCA 913.

Rita was also the pioneer for Hong Kong’s first, and currently the only, private family adjudication case, since the pilot scheme was introduced in 2015. In this landmark case, she represented the wife in a private adjudication, conducted before retired Judge Hartmann, in a timely manner.

In addition to contentious work, Rita also has particular expertise in wealth preservation for ultra-high-net-worth individuals, with experience in preparing pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements, advising on trusts set up in the context of matrimonial perspectives for asset planning and to minimize the risk to family wealth posed by divorce proceedings. She is the go-to person when it comes to advising individuals and their families, who are planning to get married, considering succession issues or planning to pass their wealth on to the next generation, on trust structures from a litigation perspective before it is set up.

Rita has had experience in high profile children cases, particularly those involving cross border issues and the removal of children such as MJB v CWC (Hague Convention) [2018] HKFLR 331 which involved the wrongful removal of an infant to Hong Kong from the UK; a case in which a child of unmarried parents was abducted to Taiwan by the mother which involved consideration of the position of the father in the context of the Hague Convention and Wardship proceedings, successfully ensuring access for the father in future: YJH v LKHM [2019] HKEC 2954; and VK v SAFG (removal) [2018] HKFLR 485 in which she represented a father in a removal application in which the child went to live with him in Switzerland despite the primary carer remaining in Hong Kong. She was also involved in a controversial removal case before the Court of Appeal involving the conflict of laws between Hong Kong and Singapore LN v SCCM [2013] HKFLR 358, which essentially prompted the judiciary to instigate the system of direct judicial communications which can now be found in Practice Direction SL7. Rita also recently advised on a landmark case involving the Hague Convention which went to the Court of Appeal involving the parties’ intentions and habitual residence: BMC v BGC [2020] HKCA 317.

Rita is ranked in Chambers Asia-Pacific from 2019 to 2021 and is named as a Preeminent Lawyer in Doyle’s Hong Kong Family & Divorce Law Rankings 2021. In 2020 and 2021, she has also been recognised by Benchmark Litigation as one of the Top 100 Women in Litigation in Asia-Pacific.

Secretary Maggie Yip

‘‘

I want to say thank you…because I am very pleased with how this [mediation] has been running, the way in which you manage a matter, and the way in which both the legal strategy and dynamics are playing directly into the mediation process. That was always my primary priority.

Senior international lawyer
‘‘

Her level of care and professionalism went way beyond my expectations. A few people made all the difference and she was one of them.

Head of Wealth Planning Global
‘‘

Thanks for your expert guidance through this whole process. We are both pleased with the result which I am sure is going to work as an excellent framework for the management of our finances and assets.

‘‘

I have no doubt as to Rita’s abilities and I hold her in ultimate regard. She performs to the highest professional standards and her commitment to this area of practice is plain and clear.

Leading Family & Divorce Law Barrister
‘‘

It’s difficult to find lawyers for high-end clients as you need to able to deal with multi-jurisdictional cases, and she really deserves a reputation for that. She is one of the most feared family lawyers in Hong Kong for very good reasons.

Chambers and Partners
‘‘

I am very pleased with the way how Rita and her team handled my case. The professionalism and positivity the team has brought in to close the case in such an efficient way definitely served me very well.

Head of a private bank

Track record

Admissions

Publications

Memberships

Talks

Acted for the husband in a big money case involving a conflict in jurisdiction between Hong Kong and the PRC, successfully staying the wife’s Hong Kong petition. This Court of Final Appeal case led to a change in the law in HK and an introduction of new legislation to allow a party who had a divorce in another jurisdiction to seek a financial remedy in Hong Kong where applicable. This measure was to protect those who would be unfairly prejudiced by an overseas divorce. ML v YJ (Forum) [2011] HKFLR 179.

Assisted in cross-border issues, particularly in cases involving the PRC, leading the team in cases involving complicated legal argument and third parties’ interests in assets both in HK, PRC and overseas [CL v ZRC [2015] HKEC 1646 and LS v AD [2012] HKEC 1395]. Acting for interveners to protect their interests in divorce proceedings. These cases often involve parents to one of the parties who have the beneficial ownership in property in the name of their child [DX v LN FCMC 7870 of 2014].

Advises on complicated financial disputes, acted for a client in one of the most complicated cases which involved multiple third parties in the proceedings, offshore trusts and millions of assets worldwide [H v W [2014] HKEC 955]. This case involved co-ordinating leading counsel from Hong Kong and London as well as a team of accountants in Hong Kong. Rita obtained the highest award ever for interim maintenance. This case is an ultra-high net worth case involving complicated company structures and assets worldwide. As part of these proceedings she had to fly to the Cayman Islands for the client to successfully seek an order for discovery against third parties [HJFG v KCY [2012] 1 HKLRD 95].

Hong Kong, 2002

‘Enforcement and recognition of orders between Hong Kong and the Mainland’”:“https://www.withersworldwide.com/en-gb/insight/Enforcement-and-recognition-of-orders-between-Hong-Kong-and-the-Mainland- Withers, 14 May 2021, co-author”“:https://www.withersworldwide.com/en-gb/insight/court-in-the-middle-a-comparison-of-child-removal-applications-in-england-and-wales-hong-kong-and-singapore

Hong Kong Family Law Association

Member of Hong Kong Collaborative Practice Group

International Academy of Family Lawyers, IAFL (formerly known as IAML)

‘How to Talk About Money’, Withers’ modern relationships podcast, co-presenter, March 2020

‘Learn How to Handle Cross-Border Family Law Issues’, International Academy of Family Lawyer - 2 November 2018

‘Succession Planning for Family Businesses and High Net Worth Clients’, Courses and Seminars - 21 May 2015

Education


Languages


  • Cantonese
  • English
  • Mandarin

Dates


Joined

2010
Partner

2012

Regularly works with...