Lawmen back return of court users' committees

THE judiciary and legal profession are considering the return of court users' committees to make the territory's courts more efficient.

Law Society vice-president, Mr Roderick Wu Bun said regular meetings would help solve problems and could cut waiting time for cases.

The proposal comes amid an outcry from legislators and the legal profession about the judiciary's efficiency.

A call by legislators and the legal profession to appoint a senior administrator to ensure efficient management has already been backed by the Government and the Chief Justice Sir Ti Liang Yang.

Although a users committee had proved a failure in the past, Mr Wu said the judiciary in 1993 was no longer the same.

''Courts are also a type of service and the setting up of a committee can help to improve the service, making it more efficient and more user friendly,'' he said.

A spokesman for the judiciary said the previous court users' committee, set up in April 1986 and relating to the High Court, was dropped in August 1990 because of the absence of suitable items for discussion.

The previous committee, chaired by the Registrar of the Supreme Court, Mr Julian Betts, comprised representatives from the Law Society, the Bar Association, the Attorney-General's Chamber, the Legal Aid Department and the Registrar-General's Department.

But Mr Wu said he believed the committee had fallen into disuse because its terms of reference were too narrow.

As far as he understood, the committee was then only responsible for looking after the physical use of courts, and people therefore lost interest in it.

Mr Wu said it would be good for committees to be set up at all levels because magistrates were probably more aware of what was going on in courts than other judges.

Mr Wu said it would be best for the public to participate but it would be difficult to find people who had the legal knowledge and were in regular contact with courts.

He said the idea had been around for some time and hoped a decision would be made in one or two months.

Vice-president of the Bar Association, Mr Ronny Wong Fook-hum QC welcomed the move and said the judiciary required a central think tank to advise it on all matters of practice and procedure, both civil and criminal, and on its administration.