A LANDMARK lawsuit by expatriate civil servants against the Government's localisation policy will be handled by an expat judge after local civil servants said they would not object. Mr Justice Keith will now formally take charge of the application lodged by the Association for Expatriate Civil Servants (AECS) for judicial review of the policy, despite his AECS membership. The Senior Non-Expatriate Officers' Association (SNEOA) said: 'We note that the judge's membership of the AECS is only a passive one.' It said it trusted the judge would not allow himself to be influenced by any interest that might arise from his membership of AECS. The SNEOA was invited by Mr Justice Keith, in a special hearing on November 25, to give views on his appointment. The association was regarded by the judiciary as a concerned party. The appointment of a judge for the case became a sensitive issue since the revelation that another High Court judge, Mr Justice Mayo, had turned down the assignment to handle the case, probably due to his AECS membership. In the hearing, Mr Justice Keith decided to remain the judge as he believed his impartiality would not be affected by his membership. With confirmation of the views of the SNEOA, Mr Justice Keith is expected to hold another hearing soon to decide whether to grant leave for the case and a request by the association to freeze the policy temporarily. 'We will consider joining as a concerned party and taking part in the court proceedings if our interests are infringed by future developments,' a SNEOA member said. It is understood the AECS request included temporarily exempting about 200 AECS members - officials on contracts - from being demoted by one rank and being subjected to the proposed open competition scheme under the localisation policy. The policy was frozen for seven months from December last year after legislators passed a private member's bill sponsored by Tam Yiu-chung.