Concern about falling standards of English among young lawyers has triggered a proposal for a tightening of entry criteria for law degrees. As many as half the current law students would not meet the upgraded criteria on use of English being considered by the Law Society. Simon Ip Sik-on, chairman of the Law Society's Legal Education Committee and a former legislator, said the standard of English has been 'perceptibly deteriorating' over the last few years. He said unless standards were maintained the territory's status as an international business centre would be put at risk. The Law Society might as a last resort start setting its own English exams. It has presented suggestions to the Advisory Council on Legal Education chaired by Mr Justice Henry Litton. Mr Justice Litton confirmed the committee had been looking at 'the standard of English proficiency on the part of fresh undergraduates, particularly those at City University'. At present, entry to City University's law degree requires only a D in Use of English. Mr Ip said this was not a high enough standard. He said stabilising English skills would mean setting the threshold at the C grade. 'And if you're looking to try to improve the standards then it should not be lower than a B,' Mr Ip said. If that was the standard, up to half the students at both City University and the University of Hong Kong - the only two institutions offering law degrees in the territory - would not be eligible unless they took remedial courses. Dr Anton Cooray, head of City University's Law Department, said his staff were committed to improving English skills but there was no proof today's law students were worse than before. 'There is no evidence. People are just saying it,' he said. Professor Albert Chen Hung-yee, dean of the Law Faculty at the University of Hong Kong, said his students' English marks were the best in the territory.