THE Chief Justice, Sir Ti Liang Yang, and High Court judge, Mr Justice Mayo, have withheld support for Hongkong's first advocacy institute, with the planned centre for the training of barristers and solicitors being seen as part of the Law Society's battlefor equal status with the Bar. Sir Ti Liang agreed to be the institute's first patron, and Mr Justice Mayo the chairman of its board of directors, when plans for its establishment were announced last month. But in a move seen as distancing the head of the Judiciary from the row between solicitors and barristers, Sir Ti Liang has informed the Law Society that he is now withholding his support. It is thought he is unhappy that the Law Society did not explain the implications of the centre's development until announcing last week its plan for merging the roles of barristers and solicitors and a wholesale overhaul of the legal profession. The Law Society plan envisages an end to restrictions on the roles of barristers and solicitors so that each body could do the work of the other. The shake-up would also cut legal fees in half, it is claimed. But the society sees the advocacy institute as a vital part of its plan, with the centre providing training for all legal practitioners if the merger goes ahead. Confirming the move by Sir Ti Liang and Mr Justice Mayo, a judiciary spokesman stressed they were not against the idea of an institute of advocacy. ''They are both withholding their support pending being satisfied that the institute will also be supported by the Hongkong Bar Association,'' the spokesman explained. Tension between barristers and solicitors is growing with some Bar Association council members angry about the society's handling of the two issues. Council member Miss Gladys Li, QC, said it was ''common courtesy and common sense'' to inform affected parties if the Law Society was seeking such a wide-ranging move. The Bar should also have been given more advanced notice. The Law Society's unilateral announcement of plans for an advocacy institute also annoyed Bar members since it would also train barristers. The Bar will call an emergency general meeting after its scheduled annual meeting on Thursday to gauge members' opinions.