The SAR Government has put its weight behind Hong Kong lawyers' drive to be allowed to sit qualifying exams to practise on the mainland as part of its push to benefit from China's WTO entry. Secretary for Justice Elsie Leung Oi-sie said yesterday preferential treatment to help Hong Kong lawyers was being negotiated under the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (Cepa). Miss Leung, who has been involved in the negotiations with mainland authorities, said that despite the mainland's accession to the World Trade Organisation, China had not committed itself to opening up the legal field. Hong Kong lawyers faced the same restrictions as overseas lawyers, although the mainland is expected to announce new measures this month to lift some constraints on Hong Kong lawyers, Miss Leung told a General Chamber of Commerce seminar. 'We are seeking better treatment under the Cepa. But there are still questions to be sorted out, say, how can Hong Kong lawyers become qualified in China? And how can they get employed by law firms in China?'' she said. Miss Leung also urged local businessmen to promote the use of Hong Kong courts and arbitration facilities for the resolution of commercial contractual disputes involving mainland companies. Amendments to mainland laws passed last year allow Chinese firms to have disputes over foreign-related contracts heard under overseas laws or Hong Kong laws. 'If foreign investors could use Hong Kong courts, they would be more willing to invest in China,'' she said.