Barristers set to get first ethnic Indian as association chairman

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 January, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 17 January, 2011, 12:00am

The Bar Association will announce a new chairman this week when Russell Coleman SC steps down after two consecutive terms.

Vice-chairman Kumar Ramanathan SC is expected to be named as his successor at the Bar annual general meeting on Thursday. He is the only nominee for the post.

'He will be an excellent chairman. He is extremely experienced. He understands both civil and criminal practices,' Coleman said, adding that Ramanathan was good at building consensus.

He was admitted to practise in 1978 and took silk in 2009.

Clive Grossman SC described him as 'popular, able and a good bridge player'.

Welcoming the appointment, Grossman said Ramanathan would be the first chairman of Indian origin, which reflected the Bar's diversity.

Former chairman of the Bar and lawmaker Ronny Tong Ka-wah said: 'It's hard to find a chairman for the Bar. I am pleased that he is willing to put in the time.

'Each chairman has his personal style. I hope that he will continue the tradition of the Bar in upholding human rights and the rule of law.'

Ramanathan could not be reached for comment.

Apart from the offices of the chairman, the two vice-chairmen, honorary secretary and treasurer, and deputy honorary secretary, there are six places for elected members, said Stewart Wong, honorary secretary of the Bar. There was one nominee for each post.

Coleman said that one of his priorities over the past two years was to ensure that the Bar and Hong Kong's legal system achieved a high degree of visibility internationally.

'It is important that the rest of the world remembers that Hong Kong enjoys a high-quality, independent professional Bar and an independent judiciary, with the administration of justice in accordance with the rule of law,' he said.

He was also keen to improve disciplinary procedures of barristers and the training of pupils.

At the opening of the Legal Year, Coleman announced that a scheme, with the assistance of the Department of Justice, would be put in place this month for the training and concentrated instruction of lawyers in private practice to prosecute cases in magistrates' courts.

The Bar should provide proper training to young barristers, he said at the opening. 'They will not come to the Bar if we fail to provide them with training and a real expectation of a sensible living.'

Under the new scheme, barristers and solicitors with less than five years' experience, who have a 'real interest in advocacy', take part in a full-day training.

Those meeting a suitable standard would be entitled to an amount of time as an instructed prosecutor in the Magistrates' Courts.

Jolie Chao, chairwoman of the Bar Association's young barristers committee, welcomed the scheme saying it would leave young barristers more experienced and 'better equipped'.