Solicitors would be turned into 'agents for state investigation' if they were forced to surrender confidential communications about clients, a court heard yesterday. The comments came as the Law Society backed a judicial review into the arrest of barrister Robert Pang Yiu-hung on March 14. On Tuesday, Pang and the Bar Council told the Court of First Instance the issue of whether the Organised and Serious Crimes Ordinance over-rode legal professional privilege needed to be clarified. The ICAC arrested Pang and two solicitors, claiming they had breached the ordinance when they helped launder money for their clients, a husband and wife accused of stealing US$75 million (HK$560 million) from the Bank of China. But Pang has maintained that when he met his clients for the first time in the Magistrate's Court cells on October 23 last year, he was asked to liquidate securities from two accounts and transfer the proceeds to an account with a solicitor's firm in order to pay legal fees. Pang also has said he was not under an obligation to tell authorities of the instructions because they were not suspicious and were covered by legal privilege. The barrister, who has been practising in Hong Kong since 1988, wants the court to declare that legal professional privilege is protected and not made redundant under Section 25(a) of the ordinance. That section specifies a lawyer must report to authorities any suspicions that his client is dealing with properties believed to be the proceeds of an indictable offence. Pang also wants the court to find his arrest was arbitrary and unlawful. Yesterday, counsel for the Law Society John Scott, SC, said that during training, all solicitors were taught not to make moral judgments about clients. 'The Law Society is concerned that [the ordinance] reverses that notion and . . . is in danger of turning the solicitor into an agent of state investigation,' he said. 'We ask the court to consider how the competing interests of the client and the state are resolved in this case.' Counsel for the Independent Commission Against Corruption commissioner, Michael Blanchflower, SC, said the ordinance did not threaten legal professional privilege. He said the government had enacted the ordinance to tackle serious crime, organised crime and international crime as well as 'the spectre of terrorism'. 'Hong Kong has chosen, in order to deal with this, the reporting of dealing of property, and it is that measure that [Pang is seeking a declaration of],' he said. The judicial review continues today before Mr Justice Michael Hartmann.