23rd March 2020
Further Court Adjournments
Many of us are seriously affected by this second General Adjournment Period (GAP). Public health and safety are paramount, however, the late notification and the lack of alternative plans to use technological solutions are both disappointing. Following the 1st GAP, I have raised all these issues with the Judiciary Administrator, however, there has been no progress. This crisis highlights the urgent need for judicial technological reform which I have been calling for in the past 8 years, many of which do not require legislative change. The Judiciary (similar to LegCo) should have its own independent secretariat support instead of relying on civil servants.
In a meeting two weeks ago, I have asked the Chief Secretary to further expand the $80,000 assistant scheme to professionals.
I have also contacted both the Bar Council and the Law Society to ask them to consider implementing the following policies:
(I) immediately waive and/or refund the practising certificates fees for 2020/2021
(II) the Law Society should waive all insurance premiums for 2020/2021 given that the indemnity scheme is in a healthy financial state
(III) the Bar and the Law Society should consider giving financial assistance to junior barristers under 5 years’ call and small and medium firms respectively
I have asked the Legal Aid Department to immediately settle all outstanding fees owed to solicitors firms and counsel.
Stay safe and I shall keep you posted of developments.