Most Hong Kong citizens are barred from jury service because of a century-old rule that requires a juror to have a level of English proficiency, despite the extensive use of Chinese in courts since the handover. The government is now reviewing the rule. Legal experts and a lawmaker are urging that it should be changed to comply with the common-law principle that the accused should be tried by fellow members of the community. The Jury Ordinance requires a juror to have education to Form 7 or above. A juror must also be aged between 21 and 65. It means that only 316,812 or 4.4 per cent of Hong Kong's 6.8-million population are eligible. This compares to the United States, Britain and Canada where more than three quarters of citizens are potential jurors. 'Obviously, there is a problem,' said legislator and barrister Audrey Eu Yuet-mee. 'The rationale behind trial by jury is that an accused should be tried by his or her fellow peers. The composition of a jury should mirror that of society where every social class is represented. 'As a certain level of education is required, it means that not everyone can attend and people of some social classes are missing out.' She also said the educational level of accused people often varied from the jurors who decided their guilt or innocence. But she said: 'The trust of Hong Kong people towards the present jury system is very high. No one has ever complained that it is unfair.' Last year, up to 78 per cent of 17,449 trials - except in the Court of Final Appeal and specialised courts - were conducted in Chinese. But there is no breakdown on the number of these trials which involved a jury. Of the 10 judges at the Court of Final Appeal, five are bilingual. In the Court of First Instance, five of the 11 judges have that capability, the Judiciary said. Albert Chen Hung-yee, dean of the University of Hong Kong's law faculty, said a new jury system should be introduced. 'There should be two jury lists, one for English trials and another for Chinese,' Professor Chen said. 'Anyone who has the voting right should have the right and responsibility to be a juror, and they should be put on the jury list for Chinese trials.' Alan Leong Kah-kit, former chairman of the Bar Association, also said updating the rules should be considered. He agreed with the rationale of overseas countries that jurors should be people in the street, to include those from different classes. But Eric Cheung Tat-ming, an associate professor of Law at the University of Hong Kong, said: 'Our system is a so-called elite class jury system. 'In the past, we could only use English during trials, so only people with F.7 education or above would sit on a jury.' He said the legal sector was conservative and there were few incentives to challenge a system that had been used for more than 100 years. The government said the review was expected to be completed later this year. Under the Hong Kong legal system, a jury is called in the most serious crimes, including murder, manslaughter, rape, armed robbery, certain drug offences and commercial frauds. The jury panel usually sits with seven people or, where a judge so orders, nine. Some civil cases, such as defamation, and inquest trials, may also require juries. Graphic: JURY24GET HOW WE COMPARE Hong Kong: Only 316,812 or 4.4pc of 6.8 million population eligible for jury service Britain: All registered voters eligible - 74.5pc of 59.4 million population on jury list US and Canada: Anyone aged 18 and above put on list - 74.3pc of 281 million people in the US and 76.3pc of 31.4 million in Canada.