LAWYERS arguing a Bill of Rights test case which could affect hundreds of people awaiting trial were yesterday warned to ''keep their feet on the ground'' by Mr Justice Bokhary. The Appeal Court case could mean anyone whose trial is delayed might get some sort of compensation, or even be let off entirely. But before the court delayed its judgment until Tuesday, Mr Justice Bokhary warned barristers to steer clear of constitutional theories and stick to the facts of the case. ''This case is about 4.7 kilograms of ''ice'', rather than a lot of high-minded constitutional ideas,'' he said. William Hung was sentenced in April to nine years' jail for trying to send 4.7 kg of the drug ''ice'' to the Philippines from a Causeway Bay post office. Before his trial, Hung had tried to get the case dropped, claiming that the 18 months he had spent in custody was a breach of his right to a trial without undue delay, as laid down in Article 11(2)C the Bill of Rights. The trial proceeded, but trial judge Mr Justice Duffy said instead of the minimum 12 years in prison Hung could expect, he gave a reduced sentence because Hung's rights had been infringed. Hung appealed against both conviction and sentence. The appeal was heard before the Chief Justice, Sir Ti Liang Yang, Mr Justice Penlington and Mr Justice Bokhary. Representing Hung, Mr Andrew Macrae of the Department of Legal Aid argued that the Bill of Rights provisions applied even if Hung's trial had not been prejudiced by any delay, since the bill overrode Common Law. He said this clause of the bill protected not only the defendant but also the prosecution and ultimately the system of justice itself, since people would not respect a system that allowed oppressive trials. Mr Macrae said: ''The hallmark of any authoritarian government is detention without trial. ''That does not necessarily involve detention in custody. It can also mean detention on bail, house arrest, for very long periods of time.'' Mr Macrae said his client had waited 526 days in custody for a trial which took only three days. ''It is a truism that justice delayed is justice denied, and it was well said that justice is sweetest when it is fastest,'' he said. Mr Justice Bokhary queried the exact time in custody, saying that Hung was responsible for part of the delay since he had initially wanted an oral, rather than the usual written, committal hearing. ''He contributed, but not in any way that invalidates any claim,'' he said. ''It would appear he was not treated any differently from anybody else, though we would like it to have been quicker.'' But he said that did not necessarily mean the prosecution's conduct had been ''as pure as driven snow''. In his submission, Crown Counsel Stephen Wong said trial judge Mr Justice Duffy had already taken into account the delay when he handed down a reduced sentence. ''We do not live in Utopia. We live in the real world where resources are not unlimited,'' Mr Wong said.