THOUGHTLESS law clerks are said to be turning the High Court registry into a social club. Solicitors are being urged to reprimand their staff after the Judiciary complained that filing clerks crowd the registry to lodge documents just before it closes at 4.15 pm, forcing staff to work up to an extra 45 minutes each day. A Law Society letter to senior partners says: 'Anecdotal evidence suggests the clerks' attendance at peak times coincides with their tea breaks and that attendance at the registry is regarded as an opportunity to socialise.' Encouraging members to take action, it added: 'The society hopes the flexible approach by the registry will not be jeopardised to the detriment of the profession by some thoughtless clerks.' There have also been complaints that clerks jump the queue to file documents by arranging for friends to keep a place for them. The Civil Court Users' Committee, which has representatives from the Law Society and the Judiciary, has considered alternatives to the procedures but decided the rule should be that the registry closes at 4.15 pm. However, a Judiciary spokesman said documents were still processed after closing time and the situation was being monitored for any improvement. Joyce Wong, the Law Society's director of practitioners' affairs, said the letter was sent out to encourage clerks to avoid the peak times of 11 am and after 3 pm. She said the society was sympathetic to the Judiciary's complaints but added solicitors often worked on urgent documents during the day and were ready only in the late afternoon. 'The Law Society would not welcome a change in the existing procedure,' she said. Solicitor John Budge said clerks at his firm have been given directions to attend the registry in the morning whenever possible. He said legal firms could be sued if clerks did not meet deadlines. But another solicitor, who did not wish to be named, said the Judiciary should extend the opening hours of the registry. 'It makes my blood boil. Why can't they open the registry later? They make the court registry appear to be some kind of a Stalinist form-issuing office.' A filing clerk interviewed while queuing in the registry said: 'It's not our problem. It's one for the Judiciary. They only open for 2.5 hours in the afternoon so there must be a rush.'