A CANADIAN-trained solicitor must be employed as a solicitor in the territory for two years before he can apply for an unrestricted licence to practise in Hongkong, the High Court held yesterday. The Chief Justice, Sir Ti Liang Yang ruled that although Mr Shane Weir had been in Hongkong for eight years, there was no evidence that he had gained experience in Hongkong law. Mr Weir was appealing against a decision by the Law Society not to grant him an unconditional practising certificate or alternatively to reduce the two-year conditional period. He argued he had gained substantial experience of the law in Hongkong or the UK. By law, a solicitor is not allowed to practise as a sole practitioner or as a partner until the Council is satisfied he has been employed as a solicitor for two years in Hongkong. However, that period may be reduced by a year if the Council considers he has acquired substantial experience in the law in Hongkong or the UK. The Chief Justice said the intention of the legislature was to ensure that before a practitioner was allowed to practise without supervision, and have responsibility for his clients' funds, he should have knowledge of both the substantive law and of legal practice in either the UK or Hongkong. He said it was reasonable to assume the two-year period should only be waived or reduced when the applicant had acquired such knowledge as he may be likely to acquire during two years' limited practice. The court heard Mr Weir had been admitted as a barrister and solicitor in Saskatchewan in 1978 where he practised as a partner or sole proprietor until 1985 when he moved to Hongkong. He was a law lecturer at City Polytechnic from early 1985 to mid-1986 and then joined the local office of an international law firm as associate solicitor. From early 1989 to March 1992, he became a director of the L & D Property Group, working as a legal adviser and last year was admitted as a solicitor in England and Wales and then as a solicitor in Hongkong. However, Sir Ti Liang said neither his experience as a law lecturer, his other work experience in the territory or his legal experience in Canada was relevant.