Expert witnesses will get a code of conduct, says chief prosecutor

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 08 April, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 08 April, 2004, 12:00am

Expert witnesses should follow a code of conduct to ensure standards in Hong Kong's legal system do not slip behind other jurisdictions, the director of public prosecutions said yesterday.

Grenville Cross made the comments as he released a review of the Prosecutions Division's work for last year, which he described as 'a period of reform'.

Mr Cross said that under the reformist agenda adopted by the division, the question of issuing guidelines for expert witnesses was raised by two separate committees - one examining steps to avoid miscarriages of justice and another looking at a code of conduct for expert witnesses. 'The recommendations ... are being considered, and consultation is under way,' he said.

Mr Cross said the idea of a code was to emphasise to expert witnesses that they should arrive at the correct conclusion and not act as an agent for one of the parties.

He said similar codes existed in Australia, while England was also examining the need for them.

'It is certainly not an area we want to fall behind in,' he said.

'We are satisfied with the standard of the evidence given but we do not want to be complacent. We want to strive for higher standards which will lead to higher standards of criminal justice.'

He said the Prosecutions Division secured convictions in 85 per cent of the corruption cases handled last year.

Mr Cross said 164 people were prosecuted for serious fraud offences, which had reported losses of $2.2 billion.

He said prosecutors pursued 210,055 prosecutions and gave 16,820 people legal advice during the year.

Mr Cross sidestepped the media storm that arose after the government decided not to prosecute former financial secretary Antony Leung Kam-chung over his purchase of a new family car before he implemented a new tax regime.

He said all comments concerning the incident were made at the time and he had nothing new to add.