【Philip Dykes, SC - Personal Statement】
There is nothing predictable about Hong Kong’s development under the Basic Law except that it it is unpredictable. This is clear from events happening in the last eighteen months.
I have been used to guiding the Bar through mild buffeting when I was Vice Chairman and Chairman ten or twelve years ago. I like to think that I handled myself creditably in that time. Certainly, other people thought that I did a reasonable job They believed that it is time that I should lead the Bar again because, using a nautical metaphor, stormy weather probably lies ahead in the next 12 months. So it is I offer myself as a candidate for election.
When the public is confused about the legal basis of changes made by the application or interpretation of the Basic Law they can expect the Bar to have a view that it will express that view in a way that is intelligible to the general public. If a measure appears to conform to the Basic Law the Bar will say so. If it appears to deviate or is problematic, it will also speak out and try and engage with bodies that hold different views. Just as freedom of expression is not a cloistered virtue that thrives only in the debating chamber or in private meetings, speaking out very clearly about rule of law and constitutional issues is something that simply must be done. With the aid of other members of the Bar Council, I will see that this is done.
It is almost a given that a candidate for the Chair expresses concern about livelihood issues affecting the Young Bar. There is only so much that can be done regarding levels of remuneration because most young barristers, apart from some very fortunate ones who can look to reaping the rewards of a first-rate legal education, have to begin by undertaking publicly funded work.
Rather than rely solely on persuading a parsimonious government increasing funds, I would like to explore what barristers can do for each other. I have asked around some young barristers and I have been told that very junior barristers feel that the training given to them to take up prosecution work and defence work in the magistrates’ courts is not adequate. If that is so, the Bar has to change it because poorly prepared barristers are no advertisement for the Bar. I would be also interested in relaxing the rules concerning barristers taking up other occupations.
As for the Bar as a whole, my duty is to it as a whole. Members who have not developed a specialised commercial or arbitration practice may feel that they are missing out on opportunities in the Mainland. I would hope to see whether opportunities for offering “cinderella” legal services can be pursued under existing arrangements. I would also hope to make sure that all members who pay the annual fee for a practising certificate get value for money and do not regard the fee as a kind of licensing fee.
These are my present concerns. If you think that I have overlooked some important matter which a new Bar Chairman simply must address, please get in touch with me.
Finally, whatever may be the result in the election, I thank you for providing the opportunity to persuade you that I would be a good leader for you all.