Bar working hard at reducing costs
The article by Jane Moir headlined 'Sour milk for fat-cat lawyers' (South China Morning Post Business 2, June 14) gives readers the false impression that the legal profession, including the Bar, is resisting any proposal for change out of greed and self-interest. Nothing could be further from the truth.
As long ago as May 1999, the legal profession had made various proposals to lessen the cost of litigation, which more often than not, is caused by outdated procedures and inappropriate management by lawyers at the pre-trial stage. The unreasonably high cost of copying charges or document management by law firms is another major issue. I, on behalf of the Bar, made a number of sweeping proposals for reform aimed at reducing time and costs. These proposals are conveniently collected in a book called Reform of the Civil Process in Hong Kong by Wilkinson & Burton. The Bar's proposals were forwarded to the Chief Justice even before the establishment of the present committee chaired by Mr Justice Patrick Chan. Up to date, we have not received any concrete replies from the Judiciary.
Although some of the reforms taking place at present in the personal-injuries courts are well intentioned, these reforms have been seen by many as forsaking justice for expedience. Both the Bar and the Law Society have set up working committees to look into this particular issue and are in constant touch with the Judiciary with a view to striking the right balance in the best interests of the litigant.
The Bar, of course, is also running an extremely successful Free Legal Service Scheme. Audrey Eu, SC, is also running a parallel free legal workshop which is complementary to the Bar's Free Legal Service Scheme.
Far from being 'fat cats', at least as far as the Bar is concerned, we are all working very hard at reducing the cost of litigation for the needy.
RONNY K. W. TONG, SC