The chief justice of Hong Kong knew his audience when he was speaking at an event organised by the Bar Council last week.

An attendee expressed concern over whether the Honourable Geoffrey Ma has as much respect for workaday lawyers as for judges when it comes to standing up for the rule of the law in the region. Absolutely, said Ma, commending barristers in Hong Kong as a ‘beacon of inspiration’ and for speaking out on issues in the public interest.

He also spoke of the ‘great respect’ the public had for the bar.

But his words were not quite so warm when he turned his attention to solicitors. ‘[Solicitors] are often a little bashful to speak out in case it causes an offence against clients. The bar doesn’t have this, so they speak out and earn the respect of the public,’ Ma said.

Ma was called to the bar at Gray’s Inn in 1978.