Legal Aid watchdog outlines policies

PUBLISHED : Friday, 16 August, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 16 August, 1996, 12:00am

The first chairman of the committee to oversee the Legal Aid Department said yesterday he wanted to ensure the department's services were fully utilised by people entitled to them.

Lee Jark-pui, a banker and former executive director of the Tobacco Institute, is to be announced as the first chairman of the Legal Aid Services Council on August 30.

'if you believe that Hong Kong will remain under the rule of law then you have to make sure everyone has the opportunity to seek legal recourse,' Mr Lee said.

Legislators and pressure groups have attacked the Government for refusing to publicise the services offered by the Legal Aid Department in an attempt to cap demand.

The department's workload increased 17 per cent in the first six months of this year, largely because of changes to the divorce law and a 20 per cent rise in the upper financial limit for assistance.

Some pressure groups had been hoping for a grassroots figure to take the job, but assistant director of administration Stephen Fisher said: 'We have considered all the possibilities and the person we have chosen is most suitable.' One of the council's tasks is to consider the controversial topic of whether the Legal Aid Department should be legally independent from government.

Mr Lee, a director of the Hongkong Chinese Bank, was secretary-general of the Chinese Manufacturers Association for 15 years until he was dismissed after expressing an interest in running in the first Legislative Council elections in 1985.