LCD funds Chinese training to ensure good relations

The future of a politically sensitive training scheme which sees young Chinese lawyers experience English legal life has been secured at a high-profile ceremony in Beijing this week.The 12-year-old practical training scheme - renamed the Lord Chancellor's training scheme for young Chinese lawyers - has long been seen as a key element in ensuring good relations with the Chinese legal profession as it liberalises its regime for foreign lawyers.A memorandum of understanding was signed by the China Law Council - run jointly by the Law Society and Bar Council - the Lord Chancellor's Department (LCD) in the shape of permanent secretary Sir Hayden Phillips, Fan Fangping, China's Vice Minister of Justice, and Gao Zongze, president of the All China Lawyers Association.Linklaters partner Derek McMenamin, the council's solicitor co-chairman, who is in Beijing for the signing, said: 'The China Law Council is delighted to be managing this scheme, which is widely regarded as the cornerstone of Sino-British legal relations.

We have improved and developed the programme to include additional training in professional skills and ethics.' AdrianHughes, the barrister co-chairman, was also present.The scheme was thrown into doubt in late 1999 after the Department for International Development, which funded it, refused to put in more money, because its commercial focus did not fit with the department's aim of eradicating poverty.

Responsibility was passed to the LCD, which did maintain funding.The scheme will run for ten years with the aim of training 15 of China's brightest lawyers each year.

Following a course at the School of Oriental and African Studies, the lawyers will receive training at leading law firms and chambers in commercial and civil law, litigation, court procedure and practice management.Neil Rose