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Experienced Solicitors Moving to High Court

Issued: March 01 2013

Experienced solicitors will soon have the right to represent clients in Hong Kong’s High Court.
Some solicitors will soon be able to represent clients in Hong Kong’s High Court, according to a report in the South China Morning Post. The change is expected to save litigants tens of thousands of dollars.
Hong Kong has a split legal profession comprising solicitors and barristers, with the bulk of legal professionals being solicitors. The change in the law comes as a result of the enactment of the Legal Practitioners (Amendment) Bill 2009, which allows solicitors to become solicitor-advocates and represent clients in the High Court, Court of Appeal and Court of Final Appeal.
Barristers have had a monopoly on the ability to represent clients at hearings in the High Court. The rule is being relaxed for experienced solicitors following years of lobbying by solicitors who want to have equal standing with barristers.
A group of trainers from the United Kingdom is expected to visit Hong Kong in the near future to coach lawyers on advocacy skills, including questioning witnesses and court presentation, said Dieter Yih, a Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy partner and who heads the firm’s Hong Kong local law practice. Yih’s practice focuses on capital markets, private equity investments, corporate finance and mergers and acquisitions in Hong Kong and mainland China.
Allan Leung, a senior partner at Hogan Lovells, told the Morning Post that clients can expect to save a significant amount of legal fees by using solicitor-advocates. “The amount could be tens of thousands of dollars, and the saving is mainly on the time a barrister will have to spend reading the files to understand the case with which the solicitor advocate, who may have been handling the case for a long time, is familiar. Of course, the exact savings varies from case to case,” he told the newspaper.
He also said that there are some cases solicitor advocates are not best suited to handle. “For long trials involving complicated legal issues, a legal team including both solicitors and barristers, and hence a better division of labour, would be more appropriate,” Leung said.


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