A PROPOSAL to allow SAR barristers to advise clients on the mainland about Hong Kong law is being considered by the Shanghai Government. Bar Association chairman Ronny Tong Ka-wah, SC said the measure, if adopted, would help SAR citizens detained on the mainland. Mr Tong held talks with Shanghai Municipal Justice Bureau officials on liberalisation of the legal services market over the border during a visit last week. He said Hong Kong people detained on the mainland, many over commercial disputes, should be allowed to seek advice from Hong Kong barristers. 'The disputes may be covered by Hong Kong law and we should be allowed to see if the disputes could be settled in Hong Kong,' he said. 'A Hong Kong resident also enjoys political rights. We can study how his rights could be protected by the Bill of Rights Ordinance.' He also proposed that Hong Kong barristers be engaged directly by clients on the mainland and professional bodies such as accounting and law firms. At present, detainees can only hire local lawyers. Mr Tong said Shanghai officials felt the issue should be dealt with by the Ministry of Justice in Beijing. He suggested a list of Hong Kong barristers, with details of their experience, be compiled for the ministry so it could be given to people seeking advice. According to provisional regulations on the setting up of offices by foreign law firms on the mainland, such firms cannot advise on the law of their own jurisdictions unless they receive approval from the Chinese authorities. A delegation from the association led by Mr Tong also met the city's Municipal People's Procuratorate, which handles prosecutions. The Government has said 25 Hong Kong residents are currently being detained, with 20 in custody for more than six months without trial. Mainland authorities can detain anyone for a maximum of 7.5 months for investigation. If new evidence is found, detention can be extended for another 7.5 months.