LEGISLATIVE Councillors yesterday suggested the Legal Department charge other departments for court costs from failed lawsuits to ensure they were cost conscious. The suggestion was made by Mr Marvin Cheung Kin-tung during a meeting between legislators and the Legal Department. The meeting was initiated by the Attorney-General, Mr Jeremy Mathews, after a Legco sitting in which Mr Cheung asked whether there were external checks to ensure his department gave value for money. Mr Gilbert Leung Kam-ho, another of the seven legislators who attended yesterday's meeting, said there was no reason the Legal Department should be grilled about requests to pay court costs while client departments were protected from criticism. Last December, the department asked the Legco Finance Committee for an extra $30 million to pay for failed lawsuits. Tax and construction claims were said to be the two main areas in which the Legal Department represented client departments in court. In response to legislators' concerns that taxpayers' money could have been lost through human error, Mr Mathews said: ''Undoubtedly there are occasions when there have been human errors.'' Speaking after yesterday's meeting, he stressed that the Legal Department had internal systems designed to ensure such errors could be eliminated. The department was constantly looking at ways to eliminate errors, to ensure it was more efficient and cost-effective. On legislator Miss Emily Lau Wai-hing's suggestion that a panel be set up to monitor the Legal Department, Mr Mathews said he had no objection to the idea. Although there were difficulties such as the need for confidentially, the panel could still study policy and general matters such as localisation. The Legco legal unit is preparing a paper on the panel, which will be submitted to the House Committee for a decision.