Crown counsel say job scheme a failure

PUBLISHED : Monday, 14 June, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 14 June, 1993, 12:00am

LOCAL Crown counsel claim a scheme aimed at speeding up localisation at directorate level is a failure, and have urged the Legal Department to amend it.

Their criticism follows an internal review concluded that it should continue.

The Development Post Scheme (DPS) was introduced in May 1991 to increase promotion chances for local senior Crown counsel to the directorate level after two years of training.

An internal working group recommended that 20 people join the scheme at any one time as opposed to the present limit of 18.

The Local Crown Counsel Association said the DPS, designed to localise 30 per cent of the directorates by 1992, had proved to be a failure because only 10 out of 53 posts - less than 20 per cent - were filled by locals.

In a submission to the working group, the association proposed that there be no ceiling for the number of participants.

It said locals should be given the preference to ''act'' in senior posts, to make them more eligible for promotion.

It also wanted the department to create a new assistant principal Crown counsel post under the DPS to allow local officers to gain managerial skills.

The working group also reviewed the Double Ladder Scheme implemented in 1988 to groom local Crown counsel for senior posts.

It found that the scheme was successful in attaining the target of localising 50 per cent of senior Crown counsel last year.

But it indicated that the present level was still too low.

The association proposed that a target to localise 80 per cent of jobs at all levels by 1995 should be set.

Meanwhile, the future of 53 expatriate lawyers hangs in the balance as the Department decides whether to renew their contracts.

Those whose contracts are due to expire between October next year and September 1995 have to be given 12 months' notice as to whether their contracts will be renewed.

In last year's grade review 65 overseas contracts were considered. It was decided that 19 should either not be renewed at all or extended only one year. The standard length of contract is two years.

The Association of Expatriate Civil Servants (AECS) has delivered two fierce attacks on localisation.

The latest, dated June 8, and addressed to the Departmental Secretary of the Legal Department, is a response to a consultative paper on localisation of the Attorney-General's Chambers which was issued in May.

Civil servants were given until last Friday to comment.

The latest AECS reply follows a seven-page rebuttal to Legco sent on June 2.

Both submissions maintain that the association supports localisation in so far as it favours recruiting locals, but strongly objects to the policy of non-renewal of contracts.

In the Legco submission, it said that by seeking to make up for past discrimination, localisation policy unfairly discriminates against expatriate counsel.

Pointing to the non-renewal of contracts of high-ranking officers in impending contract reviews, the AECS states: ''Most affirmative action programmes apply a bias at the recruitment level, some at promotion level, but we know of none which go so far as to remove people from their jobs in order to redress the balance.''