The appointment of a new chief justice is likely to be delayed, even if Sir Ti Liang Yang resigns to stand for chief executive, legal experts said yesterday. A new judge will not be installed until the chief executive-designate has been consulted, say lawyers. This could even lead to a judicial merry-go-round with judges taking it in turns to be acting chief justice, it was suggested. The delay could also result in Sir Ti Liang helping to nominate his own successor. The Judiciary says Sir Ti Liang's position as Chief Justice will be considered when the nominations for chief executive are formally put forward. His resignation, in order to pursue his political career, is thought to be the most likely outcome. But this would not necessarily mean the immediate appointment of a new chief justice. Legislator Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee said she thought it likely the decision would wait until the chief executive-designate was consulted. She said she did not think there was anything wrong with Sir Ti Liang, if successful, giving advice on who should be appointed as his successor. Ms Ng said the easiest way to fill the power vacuum would be the appointment of an acting chief justice to head the Judiciary until a final decision was made. Mr Justice Noel Power is holding this position while Sir Ti Liang is on holiday. Another option would be to have a series of acting top judges, with each serving for a few months at a time. This would provide an opportunity to give a test run to candidates for the permanent post. Senior law lecturer Nihal Jayawickrama called for a new chief justice to be appointed immediately. He said he thought it was wrong to delay the decision, because the Judiciary urgently needed strong leadership. Sir Ti Liang admitted as long ago as 1989 that he was 'obsessed' with the absence of a firm candidate to succeed him. The three hottest favourites to succeed him are all Appeal Court judges: Mr Justice Henry Litton; Mr Justice Benjamin Liu Tsz-ming and Mr Justice Charles Ching. Some lawyers think an appointment should be made from outside the Judiciary. Mr Justice Benjamin Liu Tsz-ming Regarded as option most favourable to Beijing. Chairman of Local Judicial Officers' Association. Came under fire from the Bar for attending Preparatory Committee's first consultation exercise in Hong Kong in May. Was reported to have backed proposals by China to water down the Bill of Rights in November last year. Said the bill had an adverse impact on territory's legal and judicial systems. Provoked calls for his resignation in September 1993 when he said expatriate civil servants, who were considering suing the Government over its localisation policy, had no chance of winning. Now 64, was called to the Bar in England in 1957 and to the Hong Kong Bar in 1959. Was made a Queen's Counsel in 1973 and later served as a District Court Judge. Appointed Justice of Appeal in December 1994. Mr Justice Henry Litton Went from top QC to Justice of Appeal in September 1992. Many believe he has been groomed to be the next chief justice. Noted for his liberal views and nicknamed 'the green judge' because of his links with Friends of the Earth. Has publicly spoken out against the Bill of Rights, which he once described as 'this monster crawling out of the caverns of Legco'. Survived being buried in the rubble of the 1972 Kotewall Court disaster, in which the building was brought crashing down by a landslide. Rescuers found him singing the Beatles song When I'm 64. Now 64, he was born in Hong Kong. His mother was Chinese, his father half-Chinese. Studied history at Oxford before switching to law. Called to the Bar in Hong Kong in 1960. Made territory's youngest QC in 1970. Mr Justice Charles Ching Regarded as the Bar's most popular choice. Appointed straight to the Court of Appeal from the Bar in July last year. Had been regarded as one of the most successful QCs in Hong Kong. Appointment as a judge was seen as a move which gave the Judiciary a much-needed boost of confidence. Mr Justice Ching, 60, is the son of former South China Morning Post editor Henry Ching. Educated at Oxford and called to the Hong Kong bar in 1959. Became a QC in 1974 and was chairman of the Bar Association in 1975 and 1976. Said to combine toughness with charm.