The following is issued on behalf of the Judiciary:
The Hon Chief Justice Mr Andrew Kwok-nang Li said in Tokyo today (September 2) that against the background of constantly rising expectations of professional excellence and integrity in the context of a fast changing world, lawyers who work in Asia must face the exciting challenges ahead.
Chief Justice Andrew Li is attending the 10th Conference of the Chief Justices of Asia and the Pacific, which is held in conjunction with the 18th Biennial Conference of LAWASIA 2003, from September 1-5 in Tokyo, Japan.
In his luncheon speech at the LAWASIA Conference, the Chief Justice said that foremost among those challenges will be the demands of globalisation and it is critically important that lawyers in different jurisdictions engage in a free exchange of ideas and opinions, learning from each other's thinking and experience.
The Chief Justice took the view that with increasing globalisation, lawyers now live and function in the age of information technology and with cyberspace, there comes a demand for greater efficiency and speed of execution.
"Lawyers today cannot survive without keeping pace with technological developments. There is no choice in the matter."
"Competence in information technology and its associated management skills has become - and will remain - one of the core competencies required of all lawyers," he added.
Describing the legal profession as a profession with honourable ideals and traditions, the Chief Justice stressed that the lawyer is not and should not be a mere legal technician but is and should be a legal professional with a concern for the public good.
"It is most important for this to be fully recognised and appreciated by lawyers if the legal profession is to continue to maintain public esteem and confidence," he added.
The Chief Justice stated that it is essential for the legal profession, as an important institution in a civil society, to be and to remain independent.
"An independent legal profession has a crucial role to play in upholding the rule of law and the administration of justice, and in safeguarding the independence of the Judiciary," the Chief Justice said.
"It is only a profession that is independent and is perceived by society to be independent that can discharge this responsibility effectively," he added.
Besides, the Chief Justice said that proper and transparent standards of professional behaviour must be set and rigorously enforced to avoid conflicts of interest for the legal profession to continue to command the respect of society.
The Chief Justice also said that it is important for any society to ensure that there is access to legal advice and justice by all, which require the concerted and co-ordinated efforts both by government and legal profession in the private sector.
Lastly, the Chief Justice was of the view that lawyers should aspire to be good professional citizens and the ideals of the legal profession should remain as enduring values and find expression in new avenues of action.
"The exciting challenges ahead for the legal profession lie not merely in coping with rapid changes brought about by globalisation and developments in information technology in a highly competitive environment but in being able to retain its ideals of service with a concern for the public good and to implement them as good professional citizens through new ways of action," he concluded.
LAWASIA is a professional association of representatives of bar councils, law associations, individual lawyers, law firms and corporations principally from the Asia Pacific region. Since its inception in 1966, LAWASIA has held 17 biennial conferences at various locations throughout the region. The theme of the 18th biennial conference which is now held in Tokyo, Japan is "A Dynamic Asia/Asia Pacific: Legal Issues in 2003 and Beyond".
End/Tuesday, September 2, 2003