Young Barristers' Survey on Extension of Rights of Audience to Solicitors
1. The Bar's Young Barristers Committee ("YBC") carried out a survey in June 2000 on the views of barristers of less than 5 years' call ("YB") on the question of possible extension of higher rights of audience to solicitors.
2. Out of 225 YBs, a total of 65 responded (or 28%). There were another 18 barristers of more than 5 years'call who also responded to the survey.
3. 77.1% of those responded did not agree that solicitors should be given extended rights of audience.
4. A total of 62.7% of those responded regarded access to justice through independent advocates as the most important or an important consideration for limiting solicitors'rights of audience. Another 61.4% regarded higher standards of advocacy as the most important or an important consideration for maintaining the Bar's exclusive rights of audience in the higher courts.
5. 78.3% of those responded thought that if extended rights of audience were granted to solicitors, it would be desirable or practicable to limit those rights. 24.6% thought that such rights should be limited by a licensing and examination system.
6. In the event that further rights of audience were granted to solicitors, a total of 57.8% thought the most important or an important change of the present professional structure should be to allow barristers to have direct access to the public either in litigation work or in all areas of legal work. Only 7.2% thought that there should be no change to the present professional structure.
7. 9 of the YBs identified themselves as PCLL/LLB students. They all indicated that they would not join the Bar upon graduation if solicitors were given full rights of audience in the higher courts. There was no positive response from anyone that despite such extension of rights of audience, they would still join the Bar.
8. The YBC intends to call an open forum to further discuss this issue in the near future.
Dated 8th November 2000
Hong Kong Bar Association