Written Answer by Minister for Law, K Shanmugam, to Parliamentary Question on Disposable Income Limit to Qualify for Legal Aid
6 Nov 2017 Posted in Parliamentary speeches and responses
Cheryl Chan Wei Ling (Member of Parliament for Fengshan SMC)
To ask the Minister for Law whether the current disposable income limit of $10,000 under the means testing to qualify for legal aid is still relevant compared with the cap of per capita income in other schemes which have increased over time.
The Ministry of Law regularly reviews the means test which applicants have to satisfy for civil legal aid. Our last review was conducted in 2013, to allow approximately 25% of Singapore citizens and permanent residents to qualify for legal aid, up from 17% previously.
To qualify for legal aid, an applicant’s disposable income cannot be more than S$10,000 per year and his disposal capital cannot be more than S$10,000. Disposable income is different from gross income. Disposable income allows for permitted deductibles (such as the expenses of the applicant and his dependants, CPF contributions, and rent) to be excluded. For example, an applicant with three dependants and a gross annual income of S$60,000 may have an annual disposable income of less than S$10,000 after excluding all permitted deductibles. In this way, the permitted deductibles take into account the specific circumstances of the individual.
In the 2013 review, permitted deductibles were raised to account for increases in the cost of living. In addition, a new deductible was introduced for family proceedings which involve children or protection orders to help the most vulnerable persons in a family dispute be eligible for legal aid. All these amendments help vulnerable applicants of limited means qualify for legal aid.
Last updated on 06 Nov 2017