Political parties may have to review longstanding funding practices for poll candidates after being challenged by a District Court judge yesterday. But the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong said Judge Li Zong-er did not know enough of how parties operated. The issue arose with Judge Li's ruling that the Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood (ADPL) is not entitled to force two former party members to repay campaign funds because it had illegally distributed the cash. He said the ADPL was not entitled to the $220,000 allegedly owed by Leung Kwong-cheong, 46, and $104,845 said to have been due from Ting Yin-wah, 47. The ADPL launched civil action this year to try to recover the money after the pair left the party. The judge said the funds were in breach of the Elections (Corrupt and Illegal Practice) Ordinance's Chapter 288, which had been replaced last year with Chapter 554. Mr Ting told the court the sums were an 'advantage' and in contravention of the ordinance as they were a bribe for him to stand as a candidate. Judge Li said the way the ADPL paid the funds did not constitute a legal donation. He said that when the party sought to recover the money it breached the ordinance as the move indicated the money was intended as a loan, not a donation. Mr Leung, a district board member and regional councillor from February 1994 to March 1996, unsuccessfully ran for Legco in 1995. Mr Ting was a board and council member from October 1995 to March 1996. Judge Li also said that before the trial he had raised with the parties concerned the issue of the legality of voluntary repayments if a candidate won office. 'If the parties believe the issue can be taken out of the purview of the court by silence in the pleadings and submissions, they are wrong,' he said. Democrat vice-chairman Law Chi-kwong said it had been an understanding that the party would lend money to candidates 'in the form of donations'. Those elected were required to contribute part of their remuneration from elected office to the party. But he said he was not aware the practice could be illegal. He said he would study the judge's ruling. DAB vice-chairman Ip Kwok-him said: 'I think the judge doesn't know much about political parties. I don't see the need to review our practices in light of his remarks'. He said the party paid all election costs for Legco candidates. The contribution after elections was a way of raising funds for the next election. ADPL members were unavailable for comment.