AN inspector is to be empowered to examine solicitors' files as part of efforts to clean up the legal profession. The move, intended to prevent illegal touting for business and commission-taking, was welcomed by the acting secretary-general of the Law Society, Mr Patrick Moss. The clean-up move follows the release earlier this year of a nine-year Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) study which revealed triad activity and widespread unethical practices such as touting and commission-paying in the legal profession. Under the Legal Practitioners (Amendment) Bill 1993 gazetted today, the inspector will be appointed by the Law Society and will have the power to conduct checks on solicitors and employees to see whether there has been any unauthorised payment of fees. He will have the power to inspect all documents in the possession of solicitors' firms to ensure the rules of practice are not broken. The bill will be introduced into the Legislative Council on May 5. Legislator and lawyer Mr Moses Cheng Mo-chi said the amendment would reduce unnecessary competition for clients so lawyers could concentrate on improving the standard of their service. He said the inspector should be a practising solicitor so that he would have an insight into where and how malpractices could take place. The post should not be a full-time one; the inspector should be appointed whenever an investigation was needed, he said. ''I doubt whether there are many cases that would require a full-time inspector. In addition, if the inspector stops practising he will lose touch with the profession and will not be so equipped to detect malpractice,'' Mr Cheng said. He added that the amendment would protect clients from unscrupulous lawyers. Mr Moss agreed that the amendment would give the authorities greater power to stop malpractice. Although malpractice was not widespread in the profession, the authorities preferred to take precautions before the situation got out of hand. The Law Society and Bar Association approached the ICAC last month for details of offenders so they could be disciplined under the solicitors' or barristers' codes of conduct. To complement the legislation, amendments to the Solicitors' Practice Rules will be gazetted next Friday to make it easier to detect commission-taking. Amendments will require solicitors to itemise bills, keep proper records and deal directly with barristers to determine fees. The Legal Practitioners (Amendment) Bill 1993 will also introduce a legal framework to regulate the operation and practice of foreign law firms and lawyers in Hongkong. Foreign lawyers and law firms will be required to register with the Law Society. They will only be able to practise the law of their home jurisdiction or that of a third country and cannot employ or join a partnership with a Hongkong solicitor to practise Hongkong law.