Courts should not be burdened by scholars who want to express their academic views in cases involving the public interest, a judge ruled yesterday. The finding was a setback for the University of Hong Kong's Centre for Comparative and Public Law, which applied yesterday to become an amicus curiae - 'friend of the court' - to give impartial assistance to the court in a judicial review appeal challenging the government's failure to implement a system determining refugee status for asylum seekers. Mr Justice Anthony Rogers, sitting in the Court of Appeal, said it would become unmanageable if law experts took part in litigations to express views out of academic interest. It was the first application of its kind in Hong Kong in which a non-public organisation sought to be an amicus in public-interest litigation. Barrister Simon Young, the centre's director, asked to be appointed an amicus counsel for the centre in the impending case to assist the court with research done by Kelly Loper - the research assistant professor at the centre doing research on refugees. Mr Justice Rogers said he found the appointment unnecessary as both the government and the asylum seeker in the appeal would be 'well and adequately represented' by legal teams headed by senior counsel. Expressing 'considerable reservation' about the application, the judge said the centre could find other ways to assist - such as by publishing an article on the research or approaching lawyers involved to inform them about the research. Eric Cheung Tat-ming, a law professor at the university, said outside the court that he found Hong Kong courts relatively conservative. 'This is a constitutional case where there is a very strong public interest involved, and it is my view that it should not be a party-control litigation,' he said. Professor Cheung said an academic article would be published regardless of yesterday's ruling, but the law centre would not approach lawyers involved in the case. The judicial review appeal will be heard on October 20.