Fung shui master-turned-Christian Peter Chan Chun-chuen was refused permission yesterday to have British Queen's Counsel John McDonnell represent him at his forgery trial next month.
Chief Judge Andrew Cheung Kui-nung will give his full reasons later for rejecting the application in the Court of First Instance.
Chan is due to stand trial in the same court on April 22 on one count of forgery and one count of using a false document, both of which he denies.
Originally called Tony, he recently changed his name to Peter after being baptised at the Crossroad Community Baptist Church in Tsing Yi.
The judge said that while there was no doubt about the expertise and eminence of McDonnell, there was a question as to his expertise in a long criminal trial concerning forgery.
He added that Chan could still apply to engage other overseas counsel.
Edward Chan King-sang SC, who made the application, had told the judge that McDonnell was a "very versatile barrister" and had sat as an assistant recorder at the Crown Court.
The complexity of the case lay in its factual aspect rather than the legal one, Edward Chan said.
It was complicated factually because of the number of witnesses and experts, particularly in the areas of handwriting and DNA. He said Chan Chun-chuen initially had other plans about who would represent him, but "found he could no longer afford the team he originally wanted".
The Bar Association objected to the application.
McDonnell is head of chambers at 13 Old Square, London.
According to the chamber's website, his main areas of practice are chancery, company, insolvency and litigation.
Peter Chan's case is due for a pre-trial hearing today. His trial is scheduled to last 60 days.
David Perry QC will lead the prosecution.