Rising use of Chinese presents challenges

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 08 October, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 08 October, 1998, 12:00am

Coping with the challenges of an increasingly bilingual legal system is among aims identified by the Department of Justice.

The Government intends to use its own lawyers in most cases where the Chinese language is used, rather than hiring private barristers.

Special training has been given to counsel who will be in the front line of cases held in Cantonese.

The prosecutions division intends to use its own lawyers to handle all criminal appeals conducted in Chinese.

It also aims to use in-house counsel for half of the District Court trials in Chinese and most of those held at the Court of First Instance.

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Grenville Cross, said: 'The use of Chinese is going to increase all the time. We are preparing ourselves for the challenge which lies ahead.' However, he said there were other areas where it was likely that cases would be briefed out to private lawyers, particularly cases involving commercial crime.

The department's other targets include publishing a Chinese-English glossary of legal terms and ensuring bilingual preparation of government legal documents where necessary.

A permanent Information, Technology and Resources Unit is expected to be created next year. Educational films and the Internet will be used to increase public awareness and knowledge of the legal system.

Another new development will be the creation of an electoral reference library for government lawyers.

'We are proud of our legal framework,' Mr Tung said.

'We are keen to promote further public recognition and understanding of the system both here and overseas, and to enhance the quality of the system.' A priority would be to press home the message that the system was still autonomous and functioning smoothly, he added.