Workload requires more new judges

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 12 January, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 12 January, 1993, 12:00am

THE Chief Justice, Sir Ti Liang Yang, warned the Government yesterday that he would need more judges in the High Court to cope with an increase in cases.

Although he gained two new posts and a third temporary post last year, Sir Ti Liang said the growing workload was too much even with 23 High Court judges and he would be applying for more posts.

Speaking at the opening of the Legal Year, he said that in 1987, 234 indictments were filed, and the figure rose to more than 400 in 1992. The waiting time had been reduced since the middle of last year from 12 months to 81/2 months.

''I think it unlikely that any organisation making whatever improvements in efficiency possible, would expect to be able to absorb an increase of that sort without delays being occasioned or without additional resources,'' he said.

In order for the High Court to run 19 criminal lists and 10 civil lists, deputy judges are appointed, but Sir Ti Liang said it was wrong to rely on them to dispose of the normal workload.

He said the Bill of Rights had increased the work of the judiciary at all levels.

Several measures had been, or would be, implemented to make more efficient use of court time, including the appointment fo recorders. This will mean that some private lawyers would commit themselves to sitting for several weeks each year, hearing cases as deputy judges.

On localisation, Sir Ti Liang said that in the past five years, the number of locals in the judiciary has risen from 45 to 61.

He said that by local he meant those who regarded Hongkong as their home, therefore including both Chinese and non-Chinese, with the ability to read, write and speak Chinese being a major advantage.

Although locals of ability and integrity were given priority when recruited, once inside the judiciary, locals and expatriates should be treated equally, particularly in terms of career advancement, with favourable consideration given to those knowing Chinese, he said.

He regarded as vital, competence in the law, judicial temperament and propriety of conduct, rather than whether a person was local.

He hoped magistrates would in future be recruited locally, rather than from England. He also said he was encouraged by the interest Queen's Counsel had shown in joining the Supreme Court bench.

On the District Court, the Chief Justice announced that he expected substantial changes to be made to increase the number of civil cases it could hear.

He said it would be premature to describe the proposals in detail, but hoped when submitted to the administration they would be dealt with as a priority.