Judges have for the first time pledged to release two internal reports on open justice. The reports, one of which was commissioned as a result of a South China Morning Post campaign, would be released to the Legal Department, Legal Aid Department and 'anyone who requests a copy', a spokesman said. A report examining whether civil cases could be more open, written by a committee chaired by Mr Justice Gerald Nazareth, has already been received by acting Chief Justice Noel Power. The report on criminal cases, written by a committee chaired by Mr Justice Michael Stuart-Moore, would be available in the next few days, the spokesman said. Mr Justice Power has already pledged to take action on the reports in his speech at the opening of the Legal Year. He said: 'We will, without hesitation, no matter how long-standing a practice may be, change it should it be shown that change is called for.' It is understood that one issue under consideration is holding so-called 'call-over' hearings, in which trial dates are set, in public instead of in a judges' chambers. These cases are among the typically 200 cases heard every week in the Supreme and the District courts to which no public access is allowed. But lawyers and judges complain that if call-over and other hearings were held in open court this would mean barristers would have to be briefed. This could mean big extra costs for the Legal Aid Department, which represents the bulk of criminal defendants. It would also mean a certain amount of inconvenience to judges, who would have to don their robes. There is also the fact that the cases are technical, with no public interest. Mr Justice P. N. Bhagwati, the vice-chairman of the United Nations Human Rights Commission, in Hong Kong for a seminar at the weekend, said the principles of open justice should not be bent to accommodate convenience. He said issues such as donning robes were 'a matter of formality', and that such matters 'do not in any way affect the dispatch of the case'. 'Justice must not only be done but must appear to be done - otherwise people will lose confidence,' he said. He said matrimonial cases and cases involving children were among the few areas were it was reasonable to exclude the public.