Barristers seek China fast track

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 24 October, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 24 October, 2001, 12:00am

Beijing authorities will be urged to introduce legislation to allow Hong Kong barristers to practise on the mainland before the legal profession is opened to foreign law firms.

Bar Association chairman Alan Leong Kah-kit, SC, will make the request when he leads a delegation to Beijing on Tuesday. He said he hoped to meet Minister for Justice Zhang Fusen and a national lawyers' group to discuss the legislation.

To enter the World Trade Organisation (WTO), China must open legal practice to overseas law firms. Mr Leong said it was important for Hong Kong barristers to establish a base on the mainland before restrictions on foreign firms were lifted.

'After China joins the World Trade Organisation, there will be a large increase of commercial contracts involving foreign companies,' he said. 'The experience of Hong Kong lawyers in this area can be tapped. Legislation to bring in Hong Kong barristers can help enhance interaction between the mainland and Hong Kong lawyers so that the former will be better equipped to face competition from foreign lawyers.'

He said SAR lawyers enjoyed an ethnic edge over foreign lawyers in working with mainland counterparts. It would be easier for them to travel to the mainland and they would be able to sit exams for mainland qualifications in Chinese.

The delegation would suggest a conference to discuss the provision of legal services by Hong Kong lawyers after China's WTO entry, he said.