Accountants muscle in on solicitors' monopoly

SOLICITORS will lose their monopoly of acting as middlemen between clients and barristers if a proposal to give other professionals the same right is adopted.

The Hong Kong Society of Accountants (HKSA) may become the first professional body to have direct access to barristers. It has been exploring the proposal with the Bar Association for some time.

HKSA executive director Louis Wong Lok-wah said members instructing barristers directly would be more efficient and would save money for clients.

''We know our clients' business best since we have been handling their accounts all along. Under the existing system, we have to brief the solicitors who will then brief the barristers based on what we tell them,'' Mr Wong said.

He said direct access to barristers should be given to professional bodies able to regulate members.

The idea of direct access for professionals other than solicitors was first raised in a Bar Council working paper on fusion.


President of the Law Society Roderick Woo Bun did not dispute the proposal.

''I won't be upset at losing the monopoly,'' he said. ''That's fine by me if you have the confidence and expertise to handle the job.

''There is a need to review the present system if the client has to go through several layers of middleman to get their legal service.'' ''In addition, if barristers want to take up simple cases such as bail without a solicitor, by all means take it up as it will save clients' money and make the service more accessible.'' However, not all professional bodies wanted direct access.

The President of the Hong Kong Institute of Surveyors, Albert Cheung Ho-sang, said surveyors should not be middlemen. Their role should be restricted to giving expert advice in court cases.


''We have little training in law and we don't know what procedures to go through in courts. If we have to instruct barristers, everything has to start from scratch. The proposal has practical difficulties,'' Mr Cheung said.