By Adeline Mak and Samuel Lai

A man has won his lawsuit against a karaoke bar and disco company for holding discriminatory “ladies’ nights.”

A legal representative of the Equal Opportunities Commission filed the case on behalf of Yiu Shui-kwong under the Sex Discrimination Ordinance over ladies’ nights – where male customers have to pay significantly more than female customers for the same services.

The District Court ordered the Legend World Asia Group, which runs a disco and karoke business and a bar, to compensate Yiu for his emotional distress, with the amount yet to be assessed.

The firm and Yiu were not in court yesterday.

Judge Ko King-sau handed down the “interlocutory judgment” – which means it can be appealed – for the claimant in the absence of Legend World.

The writ said Yiu was at Club Legend in Mong Kok on July 28, 2014, and was charged an entrance fee of HK$300 – higher than the HK$120 charged for women – with the same goods, facilities and services provided to customers of both genders. Yiu was disappointed at the treatment he thought was unfair, and enraged with the explanation given by Legend World that “the difference in charges is a common marketing strategy in the industry.”

Legend World was not willing to settle through mediation arranged by the commission, therefore the claimant resorted to proceedings.

It is known that some nightclubs will not charge women an entrance fee while men need to pay. The ladies’ night in bars and clubs in Wan Chai is usually Wednesday, while it is usually held on Thursdays in Lan Kwai Fong.

The entrance fee for men ranges from HK$100 to HK$500. Women sometimes receive a free drink such as vodka mixed with orange juice.

The commission said it welcomes the decision but has no comment on follow-up action.

Solicitor Jonathan Man Ho-ching said the reference value of this case is limited since the respondent was absent.

Hong Kong Bar and Club Association vice chairman Chin Chun-wing said he believed ladies’ nights will continue despite the court ruling, which he said was unfair. “Before customers enter bars and clubs, we already make the promotions clear. It is unfair if a customer, well aware of – and maybe attracted by – the promotions, sues the bar afterward,” Chin said.

It is just a tactic to balance the number of male and female customers and it depends on the proportion of men and women, Chin said, adding that in some bars where women outnumber men, men’s nights are held.

Amanda Folcarelli, marketing manager of Rude in Central, said the bar will continue offering ladies’ night promotions.

And Ravi Beryar, general manager of Rula Bula in Lan Kwai Fong, said whether ladies” nights will be held in the future depends on market reaction to the court decision.

Article originally appeared in The Standard on 14 April 2016.