Hong Kong fee plans condemned

THE HONG Kong Law Society has condemned plans to abolish scale fees for conveyancing in its response to the government's consultation paper on legal services.

The response, presented to the Attorney General on 30 July, agrees with the government on points including rights of audience for solicitors in the High Court and the abolition of the two counsel rule. But secretary general Patrick Moss says the society is “diametrically opposed” to the government on plans to drop scale fees.

Moss says the government is, to some extent, “playing to the consumer gallery”, and it will face strong opposition if it proceeds with plans to legislate on the matter.

But he concedes the profession is not united over the issue, with some lawyers saying money raised through scale fee conveyancing transactions gives larger firms an unfair advantage in undercutting on other projects.

“I wouldn't say the whole of the legal profession in Hong Kong is in favour of the retention of scale fees,” says Moss. “Reasons against it have been advanced but our view is that scale fees provide the client with a level of


“The attorney general is talking about introducing legislation later this year or early next year, but I don't think the Law Society will give in without a fight. I think there will be a battle if he does try to abolish the fees.”