HONG KONG will be setting a precedent by prohibiting solicitors from refusing cases on political grounds - if Law Society members give their backing for a new code of conduct. The Guidance Committee, which advises members on ethics and conduct, has endorsed a recommendation that solicitors should take cases, regardless of clients' race, sex, ethnic origins, colour, religious or political beliefs. Law Society president Roderick Woo Bun said those refusing cases on political grounds would be subject to disciplinary action under the new rules. Mr Woo put forward the proposal to the committee on Monday after leading liberal Martin Lee Chu-ming claimed 18 law firms rejected his libel case against former Appeal Court judge Simon Li Fook-sean. ''Our new code of conduct will be unprecedented in the common law jurisdiction and, thus, we should take a very cautious approach,'' Mr Woo said. ''But, with Hong Kong having confidence problems as we approach 1997, we have reason to introduce special measures to maintain the public's faith in the legal system. We should have provisions so that people of different political persuasions are not discriminated against.'' Mr Woo said the Guidance Committee would put its recommendations into a report to be tabled at the next council meeting of the Law Society. The council will hold consultations with its members, if it endorses the report. Mr Woo hoped the changes would be in place by the year's end. Head of the Law Department of the Hong Kong University Albert Chen Hung-yee said it would be in the public's interest to have such a rule governing solicitors' behaviour. ''If there is a rule, clients can lodge complaints to the Law Society [if they are ill-treated] and the body can investigate the case,'' Mr Chen said. ''The Law Society will become a monitoring body over behaviour of solicitors.'' However, Mr Chen said that merely including rules on ''political beliefs'' in the code of practice might not be sufficient to protect public interest. ''For example, law firms may not have refused Martin Lee's case on political beliefs, but rather for other political reasons,'' Mr Chen said.