A leading judge has delivered a damning indictment on the territory's lawyers, branding many of them expensive incompetents who waste court time. Appeal court judge Mr Justice Gerald Godfrey dismissed worries about post-1997 independence of the Judiciary in his comments. The real problem, he said, was that legal action had become so expensive that people would soon look elsewhere. 'The simple way is to hire the triads, and that is a serious risk,' he said, stressing that his remark was not a joke. 'If we want to maintain the rule of law we have to make law affordable. 'The cost of litigation in Hong Kong is disgraceful . . . it greatly exceeds the cost of litigation in London. 'We cannot rest on these ancient laurels of which we have been so proud, when the result has been so disastrous.' He told a conference organised by Inside Asia that lawyers: wasted time by 'whingeing' over minor procedural errors made by the other side, such as late filing of documents; might give judges 12 lever files, each of 500 pages, when only six or seven pages were used in a trial; and wasted court time and clients' money by speaking at great length about nothing, adding: 'There are some lawyers who won't take 'yes' for an answer, never mind 'no'.' His comments, which he stressed were personal, came as the Judiciary, like those of other common law jurisdictions worldwide, moves towards a system of 'case management', in which judges take a more active role in cases to cut costs and time. But he said judges were not selected for their managerial ability and their efforts could only go so far. He said lawyers should take the few excellent ones among them as role models. He also called for action against judges not 'doing a fair day's work for a fair day's pay'. Mr Justice Godfrey was appointed to the High Court in 1986. He has been a vigorous critic of legal jargon and outmoded court procedures, and has called for the decriminalisation of cannabis. Neither the Bar Association nor Law Society was available for comment.