Society plans to help Hong Kong's legal profession after '97

FIXED conveyancing fees are among a raft of measures proposed by the Hong Kong Law Society to secure the future of the colony's legal profession.

The proposals, announced on Friday, would allow lawyers to advertise services, improve the existing scale of conveyancing fees and ensure that lawyers pay interest on client money they are holding.

A spokesperson said the society wanted to implement the changes in the next three months to ensure “the maintenance of professional standards needed to enhance the independence of the legal profession”.

The society believes lifting its blanket ban on advertising would give consumers a more informed choice and that the interest on clients' accounts would benefit the reputation of solicitors as well as benefiting the clients.

The changes in conveyancing fees are in response to the Hong Kong government's bill to abolish scale fees.

The society says the bill is not in the long-term interests of the consumer, but is aware of public disquiet over the structure of the existing scale.

It proposes a flexible scale with a maximum and minimum fee in each band to allow for competition.

The spokesperson said: “These are issues of considerable importance to the legal profession and ultimately for the people of Hong Kong. The Law Society of Hong Kong is responsive to public demand and is aware of the necessity to review its practices.”