Attorney-General Jeremy Mathews' push to allow solicitors to represent clients in the higher courts is supported by the public, according to a survey. Seventy-eight per cent said barristers' monopoly of audience in the High Court and Court of Appeal should be removed, and 75 per cent said this would make legal cases more affordable. The poll of 1,000 households by City University was released yesterday. It is believed the Executive Council will today discuss Mr Mathews' proposals to give solicitors full rights of audience after he failed to win its support earlier this year. The Bar Council has already said only 'airheads' would agree with some of Mr Mathews' arguments. However, nearly 50 per cent of respondents believed some sort of qualifications should be obtained by solicitors before they acted as high-level advocates. This could mean a certain number of years of practice experience or having worked as an advocate in the district or magistrates court. The 'cab-rank' rule, which ensures a litigant can always get a barrister, was supported by 78 per cent of those polled, and 71 per cent said if solicitors were given the right of audience in higher courts they should have a similar rule to ensure fairness. Contrary to the Bar Council's claims that their monopoly is needed to preserve the quality of law, almost half of those polled believed opening up higher courts to solicitors would improve the standard of advocacy, due to increased choice and 'healthy competition'. Raymond Tang Yee-bong, a member of the Law Society Council, said he was not surprised the public was behind the solicitors' campaign to get rights of audience in higher courts. 'For those who are knowledgeable about professional matters, they know that solicitors and barristers come from the same bakery. 'For those who do not have an in-depth understanding, they can see when two people are doing one person's job.' The Bar Council was not available for comment.