slaughter yeung accident

Yeung (inset) and the scene of the accident.


The head of Slaughter and May's competition practice in China has been fined £375 for careless driving which resulted in the death of a pedestrian.

Natalie Yeung was driving on Shek O Road in south-east Hong Kong on 31 October 2021 when her BMW hit a woman crossing the road. Local media reported at the time that the victim was a 51-year-old hiker who was running to catch a bus when she was knocked down.

Yeung managed to stop her car 40 metres after colliding with the woman, who was taken to hospital but died as a result of her injuries.

A police investigation concluded that the Slaughter and May partner had not been drinking and that her view of the road, which has many narrow bends and is a notorious accident blackspot, was impaired by trees. Although she was allegedly found to have been speeding, she was charged with careless driving rather than the more serious offence of dangerous driving or manslaughter.

Yeung pleaded guilty and was sentenced last week in the South Eastern District Magistrates Court to a fine of HK$3500, equivalent to just under £375, and ordered to take a driving safety course within three months.

The lawyer, who is understood to earn around £3 million a year at the Magic Circle firm, is said to have been in the running to take over the Hong Kong office as managing partner. She has overseen giant deals at Slaughters since becoming a partner in 2014, including advising Google on its $1.1 billion acquisition of HTC smartphone assets, and assisting Shell with its £47 billion purchase of BG Group.

Yeung will remain a Slaughter and May partner, RollOnFriday understands.

The firm declined to comment.

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Comments

Ian 22 July 22 09:36

I’d say she was very fortunate.  The fine does not seem to be much more than a speeding fine - but here the speeding appears to be a causal factor in both the accident (slower speeds allow for braking and avoiding action) and one would assume the death of the victim (the speed limit on that road is 30 miles per hour - at 30 the hiker is more likely to survive).  
 

As someone who lives in HK, regularly hikes and crosses these twisty narrow roads I will be taking extra care - given the lack of effective criminal sanctions on careless drivers. 
 

I will also look into this case.  It doesn’t appear to have delivered justice. A partner such as Natalie Yeung might spend HKD3000 on a not especially expensive dinner for two in HK. 

DJcornflake 22 July 22 09:59

If an associate did this, S&M would turf them on the street.  If an associate put a comma in the wrong place, it’d be life. 

Anonymous Anonymous 22 July 22 10:39

National and international studies show that lowering the speed limit from 30mph to 20mph reduces the number of casualties. This is recognised by bodies such as the World Health Organisation and the UN General Assembly recently mandated 20mph as the right speed limit where people and motor vehicles mix.

Anonymous 22 July 22 11:08

We as road users all owe a duty of care to other road users including ourselves.

However, that duty is hardly disputed, but the breach of that duty and causation that turns on facts in each case.

So, if she was given a small fine, it can only be due to contributory negligence, eg the pedestrian ran into the pathway of the car unexpected. The court cannot counsel a standard of perfection on drivers, but a reasonable standard of a competent driver. Therefore, if the pedestrian was negligent, and the driver breaked and swerved the car and killed them, the compensation will be apportioned to the degree of negligence on each side.

Therefore, children normally without any insurance protection are the most vulnerable type of claimants in RTA cases. 

Anonymous 22 July 22 11:10

I would also add that Ian at 09:36 sounds more like an activist lawyer, MI5, or anti-Chinese politician, than a real lawyer. Justice is justice is justice.

Roger 22 July 22 11:44

This is a terrible outcome and no justice has been delivered. I would expect Yeung to receive at least 1 month of imprisonment yet she probably got away by hiring a top criminal silk. I would also expect S&M management committee to dismiss Yeung immediately for her actions. Surely at a bare minimum the law society of HK or SRA should investigate and strike her off the roll? 

Lydia 22 July 22 12:24

It sounds like a notorious stretch of road. My sibling's school class mate killed someone when only aged 18 in a driving accident - person came out of nowhere in front of the car in the UK - no penalty as not the driver's fault in any way.

Scep Tick 22 July 22 12:25

Is the SRA prosecuting her?

If not, why not?

Because she's a Hong Kong qualified lawyer working in Hong Kong?

Anonymously Anonymous 22 July 22 12:32

Dear Anonymous Anonymous @10:39

Thank you for your contribution. Do the studies you refer to, and the multilateral organization WHO (not to mention as well the talking shop that is the UNGA) also acknowledge that the most appropriate speed for vehicles to stop hitting pedestrians is 0mph? So we should all just stop driving our cars for maximum pedestrian safety? 

What about the higher emissions from vehicles taking longer to complete their 'necessary journeys' (thanks, TfL/National Rail, for introducing the bifurcation)? 

Thanks,

Anonymously Anonymous

Anonymous 22 July 22 12:44

Back to the UK, and btw I don't drive so please enlighten me, the new law on automatic speed limit to be built in new cars, namely that drivers can no longer control their cars as soon as they enter a lower speed limit zone (because cars have its own brains in-built basically), is said to be an absolute death trap. Discuss.

Come off it 22 July 22 12:59

Sounds like her only crime was breaking the speed limit (therefore driving carelessly, but to a fairly minor degree - depending on her speed over).

Woe betide all of us if breaking the speed limit leads to imprisonment and striking off as demanded by commenters above. Those who drive - have you really never broken the speed limit? Come off it. You've just managed to get away with it each time you're slightly on the wrong side of the law (which most people are at times).

Sounds like it was mainly the pedestrian's fault.

Anon 22 July 22 13:02

Probably worth putting "Hong Kong partner" in the headline, because she's not a normal SM partner. Most of the firm probably hasn't heard of her. 

Anonymous 22 July 22 13:28

..."equivalent to just under £375, and ordered to take a driving safety course within three months"...

There are no words.  

Anonymous 22 July 22 13:51

I actually thought at first that that photo showed a British street scene, such are the similarities in police uniforms, cones, car number plates and cars driving on the left. The colonial legacy clearly lingers long.

Anon. 22 July 22 14:46

Anon 13:03 she’s been there since her training contract in London. She’s utterly lovely. I’m sure she’s heartbroken. It’s tragic for everyone involved.

Anonymous 22 July 22 14:53

"The colonial legacy clearly lingers long."

Yes. It's an absolute outrage that they didn't all go back to wearing qipaos immediately in 1997, isn't it?

Those wicked British, using their stealthy mind control rays to oblige the residents of Hong Kong to keep wearing efficient modern policing attire till this very day. Is there no depth that their evil does not know?

We can but pray that they will soon escape their bondage and finally find true freedom under the benign auspices of the CCP. Only then will the yoke be broken.

@Anon. 22 July 22 14:46 22 July 22 14:57

There is undoubtedly something wrong and I hope she has compensated the victim’s family adequately. I feel that her action, deliberate or not, warrants immediate dismissal, particularly given her criminal record. 

Question Man 22 July 22 14:58

Can we really be sure that this incident happened?

What evidence is there that Shek O Road even exists?

Sounds pretty fake to me...

Elephant 22 July 22 15:19

This is a tragedy and why the editors consider it a suitable news item is beyond me. 

@Elephant 22 July 22 15:26

This isn’t a communist country and the legal fraternity is entitled to learn about any pertinent news, tragic or not. Kudos to RoF for bringing this to our attention. 

Anonymous 22 July 22 15:53

True, quite a few tragedies on here. Usually the tragedy of a drunken desperarado at work drinks. 

Anon 22 July 22 16:34

I was a trainee with Natalie and remember her as being extremely bright and highly conscientious and professional at all times.  I hope that she's ok and of course, condolences to the family for their awful loss.

Question Man 22 July 22 16:51

"True, quite a few tragedies on here. Usually the tragedy of a drunken desperarado at work drinks."

Excuse me... can you be sure that he was a 'desperado'?

What evidence do you have that he was not a duly appointed Sheriff or similarly empowered officer of the law?

Insider 22 July 22 19:13

Keyboard warriors up there to defend Ms Yeung - like those “fellow trainees” Codswallop. Nothing but self-serving statements.

We must ask ourselves: How about the victim and their family? Do the life of a Partner at a MC firm in HK above everyone else’s? Did her action result in the pain and suffering of others? What if any has Ms Yeung done to help the poor victim’s family who may suffer immensely for the loss of someone - like financially support and whatnot? Has she issued a public apology for her action? It would be great to see a further update on this. 

Mind you she pleaded guilty in an open court and therefore there is a real issue that must be addressed by way of disciplinary action by the SRA and the Law Society of Hong Kong. 

HK’er 23 July 22 06:43

Transitjam.com published an article on this in October 2021 after the accident happened. According to Transitjam: “Police have now arrested the driver for dangerous driving causing death.” I do not know how accurate Transitjam’s report was - Ms Yeung was eventually prosecuted for a far lesser offence.

The article refers to the driver’s view of view of the road, which is stated to have many narrow bends and be a notorious accident blackspot, being impaired by trees. A driver should proceed at an appropriate and safe speed in such challenging circumstances - which potentially may be less than the stated speed limit. Would be enlightening to know what speed Ms Yeung’s car was going at when it hit the hiker and what the applicable speed limit is there. At the end of the day, if someone runs out in front of a car, it may just be impossible for the driver to be able to stop in time to avoid hitting the pedestrian. However, as The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states, “Vehicle speed at the time of impact is directly correlated to whether a person will live or die.” 

In any event, a tragedy. 
 

Lord Lester 23 July 22 08:57

"... therefore there is a real issue that must be addressed by way of disciplinary action by the SRA and the Law Society of Hong Kong"

 

Don't forget the BSB's important role in all of this.

Come off it 23 July 22 09:54

@Insider 19:13

Do you drive? Have you ever broken the speed limit? What if someone unexpectedly ran out in front of your car whilst you were spending and died as a result - should you have your career and quality of life ended for that? "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone."

The questions in your comment aren't relevant because it wasn't Ms Yeung's fault. She happened to be behind the wheel when someone ran in front of a car. Just because someone dies, doesn't mean someone else has to swing.

Not sure why you say my (and others') statements are "self-serving" when they don't benefit me at all. I've no relation to Ms Yeung, have never met her and she has no idea who I am. Just saying things how I see them.

Hels 23 July 22 10:02

I know that road, it's a death trap because it's narrow and twisty and there are no sidewalks. So many accidents happen here. And hikers do have a habit of suddenly leaping out into it to catch buses, you can see from the photo that it is at the start of the Dragon's Back trail which is popular with weekenders. I can completely imagine how this might have happened, and it is definitely conceivable that it wasn't the entirely driver's fault.

Bob 23 July 22 10:13

The fact that she was speeding and killed someone should warrant an immediate dismissal and jail term. It is a "tragedy", and so the courts had decided as such. But that doesn't mean the firm should just do nothing.

But no she's the rainmaker, clients love her, so they must keep her.

So far I don't think I've seen a single announcement from SM about this. Just move along, nothing to see here. 

So there's another perk of being an SM partner (aside from the highest PEP amongst Magic Circle firms - though not sure if she'd be making £3 million a year because that's like a US firm top equity level): you literally get away with killing someone as long as your billings and collections are high. 

And yes indeed I have no idea why the HK Law Society appears to be totally silent.

And before anyone asks, the SRA has jurisdiction because she is admitted in England and Wales: https://solicitors.lawsociety.org.uk/person/30332/natalie-yeung

 

Je Suis Monty Don l'Autobus 23 July 22 10:22

Nothing to do with her suitability to practise. No professional disciplinary action merited. Doubtless the impudent little men in horsehair of the UK SRA would have spent a fortune of our money trying to strip her of her right to her livelihood before finally getting told to f.uck off by the Court of Appeal.

No, she would not have been fired if she'd been an associate. Law firm associates get done for driving offences all the damn time.

Je Suis Monty Don l'Autobus 23 July 22 10:25

BTW Slaughters partners in HK are full equity partners just as London partners are.

@Come off it 23 July 22 15:37

One query: How was it not Ms Yeung’s fault for running over (and killing) a pedestrian? 

The reasonable man. 23 July 22 20:39

I bet most if not all of the comments were written by the same people who have a personal connection with the perpetuator. A reasonable bystander wouldn’t have said the perpetuator has done no wrong in killing a pedestrian - I found the comments deeply offensive and devoid of any sympathy for the victim’s family. Imagine that you’re the family of the victim and the perpetuator suffers no consequence of her conduct. I’m not a Mandarin lawyer to understand the sentencing practice over there but the sentence does appear to be awfully light. 

As a firm of high standing I would expect it to report this incident to the legal regulatory body for review and then provide a full explanation to RoF. This is a serious matter requiring to be ascertained and reported in depth. The firm’s decision as to whether to report the criminal incident should have nothing to do with the size of one’s practice. For instance, can a senior partner with £5m+ practice sexually harass someone with no repercussions? That can’t be right can it..

Jardine Housekeeper 23 July 22 21:52

According to Mingpao (a HK newspaper) Miss Natalie didn’t break the car until one second after striking the pedestrian. Her defence was that the tree branches blocked her view. The Court found Miss Natalie to have speeded. No mention of her being remorseful or offering financial compensation to the pedestrian’s family. Only she would know what had in fact happened but good on her regardless. 

Come off it 23 July 22 23:58

I see we have a mountain of comprehension for you to climb so I'll break it down with some basic examples.

If someone drives onto a pavement deliberately to run over pedestrians, that would be their fault.

If someone is driving down the motorway and a suicidal pedestrian runs directly in front of their car, that would not be their fault. (Do you understand and accept this? Or is it always the driver's fault for "running over (and killing) a pedestrian" in all circumstances?)

Ms Yeung's driving is somewhere between these two extremes. It is arguable where.

Do you comprehend? Genuinely interested in your reply.

Local 24 July 22 01:20

This case has been widely criticised by the Hong Kong public for over a week now. HKD3000 is less than fine for general speeding down here, which doesn’t make sense. 

Anon 24 July 22 05:16

@Come off it 23 July 22 15:37: quite. A conviction for causing death by careless driving requires the jury or judge to be satisfied to the criminal standard that the Defendant was responsible for the victim's death.

Anonymous 25 July 22 09:32

Numbers are important here.

Another news report referred to case law that said drivers should be given 0.9 second to react. Here, the deceased was hit by Yeung's car within 0.84 second after stepping on the road (according to the car camera). As Yeung wasn't given enough time to react, even if she braked immediately, the incident would have occurred, therefore the charge was lowered to careless driving. 

Some lawyers in Hong Kong commented that Yeung probably shouldn't be charged because the incident occurred within 0.9 second, but she probably agreed to that and admitted guilty because she was driving at 53km/h when the speed limit was 50km/h. 

The analysis by "Anonymous 22 July 22 11:08" was probably what the judge was thinking.

Not above the law 25 July 22 10:29

She was only able to stop her car 40 meters from where she struck the victim. Utterly reckless driving. No excuses. Why would you be speeding when driving on a road notorious for its blind spots. Someone died. Where is the statement expressing deep regret and sorrow for her victim?

Lord Lester 25 July 22 11:46

"One query: How was it not Ms Yeung’s fault for running over (and killing) a pedestrian?"

... and you're a lawyer, are you?

 

 

One can only assume that you are a Harrow man.

Anon 25 July 22 12:30

Come off it - are you related to Ms Yeung, noting the rather elaborate “defences” made for a stranger apparently unrelated to you? Good on you. 

@Come off it 25 July 22 16:05

A driver running over and killing someone is almost always at fault, except for very limited circumstances. If there were branches that are blocking a driver’s view, she could have slowed down to avoid the tragedy from happening. Her inability to drive properly has costed an innocent person’s life. Imagine if the victim if your family. 

Your logic is devoid of common sense. There can be no law and order if anyone could run over another person and then make up excuses to get away from it. 

Anonymous 26 July 22 08:57

Crashes and deaths on the Shek O Road (like Route Twisk) are all too common. It’s usually the fools with cars and motorcycles they can’t handle being driven too fast hurting themselves, cyclists or each other rather than pedestrians. There is generally no pavement on either side of the road for most of that road. If the crash occurred at the entrance to the Dragons Back hiking trail where one of the photos is, there is only a sliver of pavement either side of the road for the bus stops either side. Hikers often cross the road at that point at the end of a hike to catch the bus to Shek O or back to town. Either way the road is straight in both directions approaching that point with no low hanging trees so speeding would certainly have played a factor as to why she couldn’t stop in time. They still haven’t installed fixed speed cameras on the road for some reason (unlike Route Twisk). That being said, the number of iphone zombies that just walk out into the road in front of you in this town is not insignificant.

Anonymous 26 July 22 21:42

@Anonymous 22 July 22 15:25

>This will be a shock to you elephant, but a lot of the news is about tragedies.

I am not the elephant, but if one wants to wallow in tragic death rather than, say, latest pay scales, you could do a Google news search for "killed by lawyer" or even "shot by lawyer". There are even plenty of "lawyer shot by lawyer" cases, seems people prefer to duke it out in various jurisdictions. I am sure you can guess which one takes the high noon appraoch.

Question Man 27 July 22 12:10

"There are even plenty of "lawyer shot by lawyer" cases"

Did that lawyer really get shot though? 

What evidence do you have that this is not all a fabrication by a jealous bystander who wishes that they were the one on the end of a shooting?

Is it not equally plausible that the jealous onlooker orchestrated the whole thing by secreting packets of ketchup under the "victim's" clothing and then caused them to explode outwards using a remote detonator at a moment in time at which the accused just so happened to be pointing a firearm in the so-called "victim's" general direction?

Riddle me that.

Come off it 27 July 22 14:44

@12:30- I'm no relation of Ms Yeung, just astonished (as Lord Lester seems to be too) that probable fellow lawyers are coming out with ridiculous statements that a driver is always at fault if their car hits a pedestrian. That's just not true.

@16:05- No-one is "making up excuses" - apparently the pedestrian ran in front of the car, which is a factual circumstance reducing the driver's fault in any case. Indeed could it not conceivably be one of the "very narrow circumstances" which you acknowledged? 

The extent to which the driver is at fault is debatable, sure, and maybe the outcome in this case is indeed unjust. I know nothing more about it than the RoF article above. 

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