Government backing for creation of judiciary post

THE Government has thrown its weight behind the creation of a senior administrator post in the judiciary to ensure its efficient management, according to the Chief Secretary, Sir David Ford.

Sir David said during the resumed Budget debate yesterday that the idea also had support in principle from the Chief Justice, Sir Ti Liang Yang.

The call for the creation of the post was made by the Legislative Council's legal representative Mr Simon Ip Sik-on during the Budget debate last week.

Sir David said the operating environment of the judiciary in the 1990s was proving to be very different and difficult because of the increasing volume and complexity of court cases, increasing legal awareness of the community and rising public expectations about the standards of service provided by the judiciary.

''A new management culture is needed and greater expertise in resource and functional management is essential,'' he said.

''The appointment of a professional administrator to take charge of management in the judiciary under the direction of the Chief Justice is the first step to achieve improvements.'' Sir David was confident that definitive plans would be announced soon.

Meanwhile, the Attorney-General, Mr Jeremy Mathews, said the Legal Department would look into the feasibility of inviting bidders for cases to be briefed out to the private sector to see if it could make savings.

Responding to calls for financial control and monitoring, Mr Mathews said the level of fees charged by solicitor firms was scrutinised by the director of public prosecutions or the Crown solicitor and there were scale fees laid down for barristers outside the department.

Addressing concerns about the pace of localisation, Mr Mathews said the progress had been encouraging.

He said there had been notable success in retaining local lawyers and minimising the wastage of local counsel with the introduction of the double ladder scheme in 1988, which offered attractive terms and conditions for people of comparable experience.