The Judiciary welcomed its largest intake of silks since the handover yesterday. Six new senior counsel were welcomed into the upper echelon of the profession during the formal induction ceremony attended by Secretary for Justice Elsie Leung Oi-sei, Hong Kong Bar Association chairman Alan Leong SC and Law Society president Herbert Tsoi. Ruy Octavio Barretto, 48, Simon Nicholas Westbrook, 50, Clifford Lonsdale Smith, 53, Wong Man-kit, 39, Anselmo Francisco Trinidad Reyes, 41 and Michael Coleman Blanchflower, 48, dressed in the traditional wigs and stockings for their induction yesterday morning. Chief Justice Andrew Li Kwok-nang said the title of senior counsel was an important part of the Bar's structure and the Hong Kong legal profession. He also said the appointment process had been working satisfactorily under statute after the system changed in 1997. Mr Justice Li said previously the governor had made the appointments on the recommendation of the Chief Justice. Under the statute, the Chief Justice allows the appointments only after consultation with the chairman of the Bar Council and president of the Law Society. He said the new counsel had a duty to help shape and develop the vision of the Hong Kong Bar in the 21st century. 'In the coming years, the Bar will face many challenging issues which will impact on its future,' he said. 'These range from issues such as changes to the code of conduct and improving the standards of entrants and practitioners, to issues such as civil justice reform and reforms in legal education.' Ms Leung also referred to the new silks as leaders of the Bar. She said senior counsel appointments were not regarded as a title bestowed on barristers after an appropriate length of time. Ms Leung said the appointments were a formal recognition of 'professional eminence' to those the profession regarded as worthy of distinction. She also said taking silk carried important responsibilities and the barristers' conduct was held as an example by juniors, solicitors and members of the public. 'The particular reliance placed by courts upon the skill and ability of counsel, and especially senior counsel, is something that has existed in the administration of common law since early times,' she said. Ms Leung also made a special mention of Mr Blanchflower, whom she described as a formidable advocate and perfectionist during his 15 years of service in the Justice Department.