CHINA will be asked to assure Hong Kong people that the rule of law will be above politics in the post-1997 administration in the wake of the refusal by some local law firms to take on a recent libel case. The Hong Kong Democratic Foundation (HKDF) will write to the Director of the State Council's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, Lu Ping, to ask him to issue the assurance. A foundation member, legislator Jimmy McGregor, said solicitors needed the assurance to take politically sensitive cases, such as leading liberal Martin Lee Chu-ming's libel action against Simon Li Fook-sean, a prominent figure in the Beijing-appointed group preparing for the first post-1997 administration. Mr McGregor said the episode had highlighted a serious weakness in the legal system that defended the rights of Hong Kong people. ''The rule of law should be paramount. This requires an independent and fearless judiciary, backed up by an independent and fearless legal profession,'' Mr McGregor said. ''Lawyers who refuse instructions because of possible offence to authority, or other vested interests, are failing their duty to their profession and to the community. ''We think that it would be very helpful to the maintenance of law in Hong Kong if Mr Lu Ping was to confirm that China not only has no objection to cases being taken which are politically sensitive, but it would also fully support the maintenance of therule of law to that extent. ''With that kind of assurance, solicitors won't be so worried to take up cases of that nature.'' Mr McGregor said Mr Lu was the best person to give the assurance since he knew Hong Kong well and was deeply involved in the drafting of the Basic Law. Bar Association chairman Jacqueline Leong QC said Mr Lee's case had highlighted potential difficulties the public could face in securing legal representation. In addition to a Law Society proposal to prohibit solicitors from refusing cases because of clients' political beliefs, Ms Leong said a solicitor should be required to explain to the client reasons for refusing a case. ''No such requirement exists at present - but unless it is in place, prohibitions imposed on solicitors will be meaningless,'' she said. ''I believe that the public cannot discover and complain if a solicitor breaches those prohibitions unless he is to give the basis to do so.'' Ms Leong said the vital principle to be remembered from the recent events concerning Mr Lee was that every citizen was entitled to assert his rights before the law - and that he should have access to professional services. Eighteen solicitors' firms were said to have refused to take on Mr Lee's case, amid accusations some refusals were politically motivated. Mr Lee and fellow legislator Szeto Wah have taken action against Mr Li's alleged remarks about their actions in June 1989.