The Democrats' legal challenge to the provisional legislature was halted yesterday when a High Court judge said it was 'doomed to failure'. Mr Justice Raymond Sears said the interim body was not breaking the law and described the court action as an attempt to draw the Judiciary into a highly charged political battle. 'Judges must stand back in this time of political conflict. A judge's duty is only to be concerned with those who break the law,' he said. However, he warned of post-handover difficulties concerning the validity of laws passed by the body. Anyone prosecuted under a law they believed to be invalid would be able to challenge it, he said. Ng King-luen, 74, a founder member of the Democratic Party, was seeking an injunction to stop the provisional legislature meeting and a declaration that any laws it passes before the handover were invalid. The judge refused to allow him to take the case any further, saying it would be a waste of time and money. Mr Justice Sears said he had no power to interfere with the body's meetings in Shenzhen, adding: 'I don't think they would be doing anything unlawful if they were to sit in Hong Kong.' The Judiciary's independence would be under threat if judges began taking sides in political disputes, he warned. Dr Yeung Sum, vice-chairman of the Democratic Party, said it would consider an appeal. But he was encouraged by the judge's comments about possible future challenges. Another Democrat, Albert Ho Chun-yan, said: 'Time is running short. It's not realistic to think we can file an appeal and have it heard before July 1. 'We will pursue it after July 1. That will also include the question of legal status of laws passed by the provisional legislature.' The Democrats' chairman, barrister Martin Lee Chu-ming, told the judge the Government was 'perfectly competent' to pass laws which would come into effect after the handover. 'Can it be right to have two legislatures, one operating in Hong Kong and the other in Shenzhen, both passing bills covering exactly the same matters?' he asked. But Mr Justice Sears said the court process was for individuals adversely affected by government departments or officials. He said Mr Ng did not have a sufficient interest in the case, suggesting he had been picked because he qualified for legal aid. 'The Attorney-General is the legal spokesman for the Hong Kong Government,' he said. 'If he thought the provisional legislature was acting contrary to the law I am sure he would have brought proceedings.' Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai, president of the provisional legislature, had been the symbolic target of the legal action. She said the ruling showed that what it was doing was lawful and demonstrated it would win in any future legal challenges. Chief Executive-designate Tung Chee-hwa applauded the ruling and the speed with which the courts had acted. A Government House spokesman was not surprised by the outcome. 'As the Governor has made clear many times, legal challenges are likely to come after July as the provisional legislature is not mentioned in the Joint Declaration or the Basic Law and because it has been purporting to legislate before the handover,' he said. But a senior government official added: 'Those who support the provisional legislature would be foolish to think the game is over . . . it is just the first stage.'