Lawyer wins bid for judicial review of process that suspended him

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 November, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 04 November, 2009, 12:00am

High-profile lawyer and legislator Paul Tse Wai-chun has been granted permission to go ahead with a judicial review of procedures followed by a disciplinary tribunal that banned him from practising law for a year.

Leave was granted by Mr Justice Andrew Cheung Kui-nung in the Court of First Instance yesterday.

Tse applied in June this year - more than a year after he had lost an appeal in the Court of Final Appeal in March last year - arguing fresh grounds over the role of a clerk. The top court upheld the finding against him by the Solicitors' Disciplinary Tribunal for posing nude in two magazines.

Acting for Tse yesterday, barrister Philip Dykes SC said the disciplinary proceedings involved a clerk who had unlawfully acted outside his power to participate in the decision-making process. The clerk's involvement allegedly included the drafting of the decision. The barrister also said the clerk had been told to conduct legal research on existing authorities to assist the tribunal.

For the Law Society, barrister Russell Coleman SC said the assumption about the clerk's involvement was 'misplaced'. He said evidence showed the decision was finalised after amendments were made by a solicitors' committee of the tribunal.

But Cheung said matters raised in the application required a fuller hearing and he found the legal research argument was favourable to Tse. He found it arguable whether the clerk participated in the decision-making process to an unlawful extent.

In 1999, the Law Society brought eight charges against Tse in relation to him posing nude for features that appeared in two Chinese-language magazines and for allowing his practice to be publicised and promoted in the face of a ban on such behaviour.

After a disciplinary hearing in 2003, the tribunal found all charges proved, fined Tse and suspended him for 21 months. This was shortened to a year by the Court of Appeal. Last year, the Court of Final Appeal upheld the decision and suspension.

By the present judicial review application, Tse is seeking to quash the tribunal's decision finding him guilty of the eight disciplinary charges.