Bar chairman urges salary for next boss

The next Bar Association chairman should receive a monthly remuneration of HK$50,000, current chairman Paul Harris says.

In an internal circular consulting members, Harris said experience reveals that the office of Bar chairman “takes up very significant time of the individual,” even when no traveling abroad has been done on behalf of the Bar Association due to the pandemic.

“It is noted the chairman of the Bar of England and Wales has for many years been a full-time salaried job carrying a salary similar to that of a high court judge,” the circular said.

The job of Hong Kong Bar Association chairman is unpaid, while the chairman of the Bar of England and Wales received nearly 17,000 (HK$170,000) a month on average in remuneration last year.

That would be slightly higher than the monthly salary of a high court judge in Britain, who received 15,130 on average (HK$151,300) last year.

In 2017, a high court judge in Hong Kong received a monthly salary of HK$292,650.

Harris also informed members that he will not be seeking re-election as chairman of the association in 2022, and there will be no issue regarding a conflict of interest.

Barrister Athena Kung Ching-yee said it would be good news for all members of the association if someone was not willing to be the chairman of the Bar Association because they were not paid.

“In the end, public duties of serving members should never be affiliated with monetary rewards,” she said.

Kung also questioned whether the arrangement would be unfair to the two vice chairmen and the 19 other council members who have also dedicated their time to serve the members.

The Bar Association’s chairman, vice chairman and council members have always been unpaid since the establishment of the association, and such a good tradition was effective and should be kept, said Kung.

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