A leading barrister will become Bar Association chairman next month when current chairman Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung steps down after two consecutive terms. Russell Coleman SC, a barrister specialising in civil cases and the president of the Hong Kong Institute of Arbitrators, will be confirmed as Bar chairman at the association's annual general meeting on January 15. He was the only nominee for the post. Mr Coleman, who is out of town, was unavailable for comment. Bar Association secretary Keith Yeung said Mr Coleman, as the only nominee, had been 'duly elected' although a vote would still take place at the meeting as a formality. Elections would also take place for the seven Bar Council positions, for which there are eight candidates. Mr Coleman was appointed senior counsel in 2006, although his experience in arbitration, as well as his work on the alternative dispute resolution committee of the Bar Association, is expected to become valuable in coming years as the government and the judiciary accelerate reforms to encourage use of these mediation and arbitration services. Reforms to Hong Kong arbitration regulations have been scheduled for legislation in the middle of this year, while civil justice reform is expected to take effect in April. Mr Yuen made headlines last year over his acceptance of a post on the Guangdong government's top advisory body just before beginning his second term as chairman. Critics of this move pointed out relative inactivity on civil rights and rule of law issues in Mr Yuen's first term, although the Bar stressed its commitment to defending human rights on several occasions last year. One of the critics, former Bar Association chairman Ronny Tong Ka-wah, said he was confident that Mr Coleman would be proactive on civil rights and rule of law issues. Lawyers had said they wanted to see a chairman with the ability to communicate with mainland officials, a factor in the 2006 election when Mr Yuen defeated Clive Grossman SC for the post. However, Mr Tong said the chairmanship was not always an attractive position for barristers. 'It requires quite a substantial sacrifice for two years of your career,' he said.