The Bar Association is fighting a bid by the government to hire a top British lawyer to represent it in a legal battle over the estate of late tycoon Nina Wang Kung Yu-sum.
It did not say why it would contest the Department of Justice's application to hire David Perry, a Queen's Counsel, but top lawyers say it may be because the association thinks there is enough talent in Hong Kong to prosecute the case against fung shui master Tony Chan Chun-chuen.
Chan lost a long-running battle for Wang's estate - estimated to be worth HK$50 billion - but, in the latest twist to the saga, he is seeking to halt a criminal case against him for forging the former Chinachem chairwoman's will.
Chan, 52, is charged with one count each of forgery and of using a false instrument in relation to a will purportedly made by Wang, who died of cancer in April 2007, aged 69. Her estate went to the Chinachem Charitable Foundation.
A preliminary hearing in the case is due to take place on May 14.
Chan's legal team claims the document has been materially altered by chemicals used in forensic tests by authorities, making it impossible for his experts to conduct their own tests.
A Department of Justice spokeswoman said yesterday it had applied to the High Court for the admission of Perry. Perry acted as prosecutor in the high-profile retrial of American Nancy Kissel on charges of murdering her banker husband, which ended in her conviction.
'An application has been made to the High Court for approval, admission and enrolment of [Perry] as a barrister of the court for the purposes of appearing for the [government] at the preliminary inquiry, the trial and the ancillary hearings ... in relation to the criminal proceedings against Chan,' the spokeswoman said. She did not say why Perry was chosen.
The Bar Association said it would contest Perry's admission at a hearing on Thursday before Chief Judge of the High Court Mr Justice Andrew Cheung Kui-nung. It said it could give no further details on its reasons for fighting the application as the matter was sub judice.
Senior barrister and legislator Audrey Eu Yuet-mee believes the association objected because it thinks there is no shortage of local lawyers capable of handling the case.
Alan Leong Kah-kit, also a senior counsel and legislator, said the association would normally take a view on an application to admit overseas counsel for a case that does not require particular expertise. Leong said grounds for an overseas lawyer could include involvement of a well-known character in a case which could embarrass top local counsel.