THE sudden postponement of a Law Society council meeting has prompted suspicion among solicitors that the president wants to avoid calling an extraordinary general meeting to finalise the position on the Court of Final Appeal draft bill. President Roderick Woo Bun postponed the council meeting until Tuesday. The news came after revelations that some solicitors wanted a wider consultation on the controversial issue, including a full meeting and a referendum. A Law Society spokesman said the deferral was to allow more time for members to return questionnaires on the subject. By last Thursday only 88 of the 3,000 questionnaires issued had been returned. Daniel Wong Kwok-tung, a solicitor from the Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood, who earlier vowed to launch a campaign if the council turned down the call for a meeting, said the situation was now uncertain. He said he had no choice but to seek the support of 50 members to enable a meeting to be held. Mr Wong, however, said that even if the council allowed a meeting, it would have to take place after the December 15 deadline set by the Government for submissions from the legal profession on the draft bill. An extraordinary general meeting requires 21 days notice. He urged the president to be flexible as he had earlier promised. Mr Woo could not be reached for comment. Mr Wong said he feared that if the 20-member council were left to decide the issue by itself, there was a chance that a change in its previously stated opposition to the 1991 Joint Liaison Group agreement, which limits the number of overseas judges to one, could be forced on it. Mr Woo, who says he does not oppose the composition of the court stipulated in the draft bill, has hinted that an extraordinary general meeting was unnecessary. He said the council was able to assess members' views through questionnaires and a members' forum held earlier. Director of administration Richard Hoare said the deadline for a response on the bill could be deferred a day or two but it would be difficult to extend it further because late submissions would delay the Executive Council's consideration. Core member of the Democratic Party Albert Ho Chun-yan, who had written a letter to Mr Woo expressing discontent about the consultation, said he and his party colleagues would support the call for a meeting although their first priority was a referendum. Mr Ho rejected the spokesman's explanation, saying that the return rate of questionnaires would not be boosted drastically over a few days and such a reason could hardly justify the abrupt cancellation of the meeting. 'I have no idea whether it is the president's motive to employ stalling tactics, but the objective consequence of the move was that the decision on how to go on with the bill is delayed.' He said some of the Law Society council members were informed of the adjournment in the morning without being given any reasons and they were dissatisfied about that. Solicitor Bruce Liu Shing-lee said many solicitors refused to return the questionnaires because they provided only two options which could not truly represent their views.