For discussion EC(96-97)59
on 29 January 1997
ITEM FOR ESTABLISHMENT SUBCOMMITTEE
OF FINANCE COMMITTEE
HEAD 92 - LEGAL DEPARTMENT
Subhead 001 Salaries
Subhead 002 Allowances
Members are invited to recommend to Finance Committee -
- that approval be given for the extension of the supernumerary posts under the Double Ladder Scheme, the Development Posts Scheme and the Succession Posts Scheme from 1 April 1997 to 31 March 1998 to accommodate the remaining incumbents; and
- that the authority be delegated to the Controlling Officer to create, with the approval of the Secretary for the Civil Service, supernumerary directorate posts of no more than 14 Assistant Principal Crown Counsel (DL1) and four Principal Crown Counsel (DL3) posts, held against an equivalent number of posts at the lower rank.
Some incumbents being groomed under the three localisation schemes have not yet been promoted and there will be no posts to accommodate them when the funding approval for the schemes expires by 31 March 1997.
2. The Attorney General (AG) proposes the retention until 31 March 1998 of up to -
- 20 Senior Crown Counsel (Double Ladder) [SCC(DL)] posts created under the Double Ladder Scheme (DLS) to accommodate the remaining SCC(DL)s who have not yet been promoted to the substantive rank of Senior Crown Counsel;
- 14 supernumerary Assistant Principal Crown Counsel (APCC) posts created under the Development Posts Scheme (DPS) to accommodate the existing 14 developees; and
- four supernumerary Principal Crown Counsel (PCC) posts created under the Succession Posts Scheme (SPS) to accommodate the existing four succession post-holders.
Progress of localisation
3. Historically the Legal Department has been one of the government departments with the highest percentage of overseas officers. To promote localisation, AG has, with Members approval, implemented over the past eight years, three localisation schemes; they are the DLS, the DPS and the SPS. A brief description of each of them is at the Enclosure. We last reported to Members the progress in the implementation of the three schemes in June 1996 (vide
4. As a result of these schemes, there has been significant progress in the localisation of the Legal Department. As at 1 January 1997, the Legal Department was 73.2% localised at the SCC level. This is a considerable advance over the situation in December 1988 when the DLS began - at that time the percentage of local SCC was 23.2% only. As for the directorate, as at 1 January 1997, the Legal Department was 43.3% localised at the directorate level. This is a considerable improvement over the situation in December 1990 before the DPS began - at that time the percentage of local directorate officers was just 9.3%. The DPS and the SPS have both proved to be successful and 18 developees and two succession post-holders have already been promoted to Deputy Principal Crown Counsel (DPCC) and PCC respectively.
Future of the three schemes
5. Though localisation in the directorate rank still falls short of the 50% target, we propose neither to extend the three schemes beyond 31 March 1997, nor to set any new localisation targets. First, as we have explained in paper ECI (96-97)6, we do not think that localisation should be expedited without any regard for the operational needs and service quality of the Department. Given the wide spectrum of legal services provided by the Department, a high turnover rate in the directorate will cause serious depletion of experience in the Crown Counsel (CC) grade. Retaining the more experienced counsel, some of whom are overseas officers, would also allow local counsel to benefit from the training given by, and the experience of working with, them. In fact, as the CC rank is completely, and the SCC rank is over 70%, staffed by local officers, we are confident that the localisation rate will inevitably continue to improve.
6. In addition, it would be difficult to set any realistic localisation target in view of the difficulties in assessing wastage rates among overseas and local counsel, the implications of the arrangement permitting overseas agreement officers to transfer to locally modelled terms and the fact that all promotions are determined on the basis of merit and ability.
The remaining SCC(DL)
7. With the CC rank reaching 100% localisation in November 1995, we have since then ceased selecting more SCC(DL). However, as at to-date, there are still 20 SCC(DL) who have not yet transferred to SCC (Substantive). Of these, pursuant to a recent promotion exercise, AG has recommended that 11 be transferred to the SCC(Substantive) rank. The transfer is however still subject to the advice of the Public Service Commission.
8. Members will recall that the aim of the DLS is to retain promising CC by giving them the exposure, salaries and benefits of the SCC rank ahead of their promotion to that rank. Therefore, SCC(DL), once appointed, cannot be reverted back to CC. Hence, despite the termination of the DLS with effect from 1 April 1997, it will still be necessary to retain a sufficient number of SCC(DL) posts, the creation of which was offset by the deletion of an equivalent number of CC posts, to accommodate the remaining incumbents. The alternative would be to accommodate the remaining SCC(DL) in functional SCC posts, but this would deprive CC of promotion opportunities and could have adverse effect on staff morale. In addition, we consider it important to preserve the principle that promotions should be based on merit and ability.
9. We therefore propose that, following the termination of the DLS on 1 April 1997, we should retain up to 20 SCC(DL) posts for another 12 months to accommodate the remaining SCC(DL). We wish to assure Members that we will not fill, but will instead delete, the SCC(DL) posts as and when they become vacant.
The remaining Developees and Succession Post Holders
10. On the DPS and the SPS, as at to-date, there are still 14 developees and four succession post-holders who have not yet been promoted. Although we are under no legal obligation to allow them to continue to act at APCC and PCC ranks respectively when the DPS and SPS lapse on 1 April 1997, AG feels that most of these officers have performed well so far, and should continue to be groomed until suitable vacancies become available. In addition, a number of these officers have joined the DPS for less than 18 months; to ask them to cease acting now will not be fair as they have not been given adequate time to demonstrate whether they possess directorate potential. AG therefore proposes to retain, following the termination of the DPS and the SPS on 1 April 1997, a maximum of 14 supernumerary APCC and four supernumerary PCC posts, held against an equivalent number of SCC and DPCC posts respectively, for up to 12 months, i.e. until 31 March 1998, to accommodate the present incumbents. Again, we wish to assure Members that we will not fill, but will delete, any such supernumerary APCC and PCC posts as and when they become vacant.
11. In this connection, Members may wish to note that, given that we owe no obligation to the developees and succession post-holders to allow them to continue to act in supernumerary APCC and PCC posts, we review and seek the advice of the Public Service Commission on individual acting appointments normally on a 12-month basis. For the developees, only those found likely to possess directorate potential and suitable for continued acting can continue to be groomed. Likewise, only those succession post-holders found likely to possess the potential to advance to the PCC level and suitable for continued acting can continue to benefit from the extended supernumerary PCC posts.
12. We shall report to Members in late 1997 on the then prevailing pace of localisation in the Legal Department and the number, if any, of the then remaining SCC(DL), developees and succession post-holders and propose a way forward.
13. The financial implications of the proposal for the year 1997-98 are as follows-
- Double Ladder Scheme (for SCC) - Continuation of a maximum of 20 SCC(DL) posts will entail additional notional annual mid-point salary cost (NAMS) estimated at $4,640,400 and full annual average staff cost of $16,628,400, being the respective difference in NAMS and full annual average staff costs between 20 SCC(DL) and 20 CC posts;
- Development Posts Scheme (for DPCC) - Continuation of a maximum of 14 APCC development posts of up to 12 months, held against an equivalent number of SCC posts, will entail additional expenditure in the form of acting allowance estimated at $1,502,280; and
- Succession Posts Scheme (for PCC) - Continuation of a maximum of four PCC succession posts of up to 12 months, held against an equivalent number of DPCC posts, will entail additional expenditure in the form of acting allowance estimated at $612,600.
The proposal does not entail the creation of any additional non-directorate posts.
14. We have included sufficient provision in the draft Estimates for 1997-98 to meet the cost of this proposal.
15. On 14 December 1988, Members accepted the financial implications of implementing the DLS up to the end of 1991-92 to enable local CC who showed potential to be promoted to non-functional SCC posts on the double-ladder. The scheme was to enhance the promotion prospects of local CC and help retain able local CC in the Department. On 4 January 1994, Members approved the continuation of the scheme up to the end of 1996-97 (vide EC(93-94)52). Since the introduction of the scheme on 15 December 1988, AG has promoted 96 officers to the double ladder, 70 of whom have subsequently transferred to functional SCC posts on the main ladder.
16. To improve the localisation at the directorate level, Members approved on 7 June 1991 the implementation of the DPS to groom able local SCC to the directorate. On 4 January 1994, Members approved the continuation of the scheme, on an expanded scale, up to the end of 1996-97 (vide EC(93-94)52). Over the years, AG has placed 34 officers on the scheme and 18 of them have been promoted to DPCC.
17. On 4 January 1994, Members also endorsed the implementation of the SPS up to the end of 1996-97 to train selected local DPCC in order to better equip them for promotion to PCC (vide EC(93-94)52). AG has selected six officers for grooming under the SPS and two of them have been promoted.
18. As foreshadowed in the Information Note (ECI(96-97)6) submitted to Members in June 1996, the Legal Department has reviewed the three localisation schemes in late 1996. The proposal now put forward represents the outcome of the review.
CIVIL SERVICE BRANCH COMMENTS
19. Having regard to the pace of localisation at the Legal Department, the Civil Service Branch supports the continuation of the supernumerary posts currently occupied and a further review of the situation in late 1997.
ADVICE OF THE STANDING COMMITTEE ON DIRECTORATE SALARIES AND CONDITIONS OF SERVICE
20. As the PCC and APCC posts are proposed on a supernumerary basis, their creation will be reported to the Standing Committee on Directorate Salaries and Conditions of Service in accordance with the agreed procedures.
Enclosure to EC(96-97)59
Details of the Double Ladder Scheme, the Development Posts Scheme and the Succession Posts Scheme
(a) Double Ladder Scheme
Under the scheme, local Crown Counsel (CC) (MPS 32-44 and with a notional annual mid-point salary of $637,200) who would otherwise not be considered ready for promotion to SCC (MPS 45-49 and with a notional annual mid-point salary of $869,220) but who have identified potential can, subject to continuing satisfactory performance, be promoted to "double ladder" Senior Crown Counsel (SCC) posts. Counsel selected will begin to take on the functional duties of that rank, and do so increasingly as time progresses up to the point at which they may be promoted to substantive SCC posts. The scheme is implemented by the creation of additional SCC posts under delegated authority, according to the number of counsel selected in biannual promotion exercises, subject to a maximum of 30 on the ladder at any one time. The SCC posts created will be offset by the deletion of an equal number of CC posts.
(b) Development Posts Scheme
Under the scheme, local substantive SCC who are assessed to have directorate potential are selected to undergo a grooming period of about 18 months. This includes a six-month training period outside the Legal Department in the form of attending a Senior Staff Course and/or attachment to Secretariat Branches or other departments, followed by a period of 12 months or more of postings within the Department to widen their experience. Those who have indicated interest to join the scheme and selected for grooming will be appointed to act in the development posts at Assistant Principal Crown Counsel (APCC) (DL1 whose monthly salary ranges from $86,650 to $91,950) level after the Senior Staff Course or Secretariat attachment. At the end of the grooming period, those found suitable will continue to act in the development posts until they gain promotion to Deputy Principal Crown Counsel (DPCC) (DL2 whose monthly salary ranges from $102,900 to $109,250) posts. Those found unsuitable will revert to their substantive SCC posts. Developees under the scheme are free to compete with other serving SCC for promotion to substantive DPCC posts in the normal way during the grooming period.
(c) Succession Posts Scheme
Under the scheme, DPCC selected will act in supernumerary Principal Crown Counsel (PCC) (DL3 whose monthly salary ranges from $119,650 to $126,800) (Deputy Law Officer) posts and be given responsibilities at that level in addition to their own duties. The scheme has the following features -
- local substantive DPCC would be eligible to apply to join the scheme. As in the selection of developees under the DPS, interested DPCC are to be considered in a Selection Board, whose proceedings Members of the Public Service Commission are invited to observe;
- once selected, the DPCC will undertake some of the duties and responsibilities of an identified PCC post. Work programmes will be designed for each DPCC who will be directly answerable to a Law Officer;
- the DPCC should be given responsibilities at the PCC level in addition to their own DPCC duties. This can be achieved by reshuffling the schedules of the PCC in the Division. The DPCC can be designated as PCC (Special Duties) in that Division;
- the DPCC should be given the opportunity to attend short senior management courses, duty visits, conferences and attachments. Other grooming details will be designed on a tailor-made basis;
- the DPCC should be given the opportunity to act in functional PCC posts whenever possible;
- all DPCC are at liberty to apply for promotion to functional PCC posts in the normal way; and
- the size of the scheme should be confined to a maximum of six supernumerary PCC posts at any one time, on a replenishable basis.
Last Updated on 12 August 1999