THE Attorney-General is expected to gazette new rules within weeks that will force solicitors to itemise bills, keep proper records and deal directly with barristers. The Law Society has drafted the new rules as part of its self-policing drive in the face of findings by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) of triad activity, bribery and unethical practices that inflate legal bills by as much as five times and pervert the course of justice. The Attorney-General is also considering changes to the disciplinary process, which would include lay representation on panels. The Law Society's Secretary-General, Mr John Croxen, said the profession had acknowledged the existence of ''areas of malpractice within the profession which we are determined to stamp out''. ''We hope these rules will help members of the public who might otherwise find themselves paying too much for legal services and not getting decent legal service,'' he said. The new rules are expected to force unethical operators out of business, and ensure that the legal profession follows prescribed procedures and keeps proper records. The Law Society will also ask the Legislative Council in the spring for powers to inspect solicitors' books. Billing irregularities could highlight bribery or unethical commissions. The rules will force solicitors to confirm to clients the services requested, and indicate costs. Solicitors will also be forced to deal directly with barristers to determine fees. ''Fees should be agreed between solicitors and barristers rather than clerks. That is how things get out of control,'' Mr Croxen said. The solicitor will have to advise the client about the name of the barrister to be used, give an initial idea of fees, and keep the client updated on cost changes. The bill will have to be itemised, and the solicitor will have to keep copies of documentation. Payment to barristers will have to be made by cheque. ''There have been incidents where barristers have been paid in cash. This leaves the way open to all sorts of things that may not be above board,'' Mr Croxen said. Solicitors failing to follow the rules could face prosecution for malpractice or disciplinary action including suspension, a fine or censure. Proposals for changes to the disciplinary process include appointment of a convenor to oversee two disciplinary panels, which the Chief Justice would appoint from pools of approved people for each case. The Chief Justice would choose solicitors with more than 10 years' experience in Hongkong law for one panel, and laymen for another panel. The laymen's panel could ensure the legal panel was not ''too soft'' and help to determine penalties, Mr Croxen said. He said the Bar Association had helped the Law Society to draft the rules. Meanwhile, the Bar Association chairman, Ms Jacqueline Leong QC, said the association would discuss the issues of touting and commissions at its annual general meeting today. It would remind barristers that paying commissions and touting were offences under the association's Code of Conduct, Sections 100 and 126. She said the Bar Association might consider making payment by cheque compulsory.