Addendum to the President's Address
22 Jan 2016 Posted in Press releases
- The Ministry of Law (MinLaw) will continue to work towards realising our vision of ‘A Trusted Legal System; A Trusted Singapore’. We will do this through advancing access to justice and the Rule of Law in Singapore, and developing our legal services to support our economy and society.
- We have worked to ensure that our laws and legal framework are progressive and practical. As part of the Community Disputes Management Framework, the Community Disputes Resolution Act came into force on 1 October 2015, providing a new cause of action and tribunals for neighbours locked in intractable disputes.
- We are looking into substantive reforms in civil and criminal law. Our aim is to improve the civil justice system, improve enforcement of civil judgments, and where possible, remove unnecessary complexities in the civil justice system. In the family law sphere, we are working on reforms to the Guardianship of Infants Act, the Intestate Succession Act, and the Inheritance (Family Provision) Act. We will also ensure that our criminal justice system continues to protect society from crime and maintain law and order, while upholding due process for all and adhering to the Rule of Law.
Develop Singapore as an International Legal Services and Intellectual Property Hub
- We will work closely with law practices and lawyers to drive Singapore’s development as a hub for international legal services and dispute resolution. With the establishment of the Singapore International Commercial Court and the Singapore International Mediation Centre, and continued growth of the Singapore International Arbitration Centre, Singapore is well positioned to offer commercial parties a comprehensive suite of dispute resolution options to support their business needs. We will build on our strengths, help legal practitioners develop expertise in key practice areas, as well as enhance our supporting infrastructure, such as through the expansion of Maxwell Chambers, Singapore’s flagship dispute resolution facility.
- We will look into ways to help the legal industry remain forward-looking and keep up with a rapidly changing economic, social, and technological landscape. We will encourage Singapore law practices to raise productivity, deepen service and practice capabilities, encourage product innovation, and adopt new technologies.
- On the intellectual property (IP) front, we have made progress to develop Singapore into a global IP hub in Asia. The Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) has commenced operations as an International Authority for patent search and examination work under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). We are also reviewing Singapore’s copyright and design protection regimes to address new developments in technology, as well as to facilitate the growth of the creative sector, and copyright and design related services.
Ensure Quality and Sufficient Legal Sector Manpower
- We will work with MOE and UniSIM to build up the UniSIM Law School, to train lawyers who will serve the needs of the community in the areas of criminal and family law. This will also introduce a new pathway for mid-career individuals to join the legal profession. In line with SkillsFuture, we will also work with the Singapore Academy of Law, Singapore Institute of Legal Education and the Law Society to develop initiatives that support the continuing professional development of lawyers. In this way, we can ensure a continued pipeline of high quality legal talent to meet the needs of our economy and society.
Promote the Rule of Law
- We promote the Rule of Law by providing timely and quality legal policy input to all primary legislation. We also aim to propagate legal policy principles among public officers, and cultivate better public awareness of the law to promote confidence and trust in our legal system.
- Internationally, we will continue to contribute to the discourse on international law issues. We will advance Singapore’s interests by implementing and ratifying the Hague Convention on Choice of Courts Agreements, which will make it easier for the judgments of the Singapore courts to be enforced in other countries, in instances where a Singapore court is the chosen court to hear the dispute. This goes in tandem with the overall review that we are undertaking on how the cross-border enforcement of Singapore judgments can be strengthened for the benefit of businesses and the legal industry. We will also promote Singapore as a neutral venue for inter-state disputes through collaboration with the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea for maritime disputes to be heard in Singapore.
Optimise Use of Land
- Working with the Singapore Land Authority (SLA), we will continue to ensure optimal use of our land resources and maximise the potential of state land and state properties to help meet Singapore’s social and economic objectives. We will explore greater use of subterranean space as Singapore becomes more built-up. We will also promote more innovative use of spaces and allow for greater enjoyment of previously unused state land such as land under viaducts for sports, recreational, and social purposes.
- To strengthen Singapore’s geospatial capabilities in support of the Smart Nation initiative, SLA, together with IDA, will lead efforts to formulate Singapore’s Geospatial Master Plan. Our smart cadastre capability will also be enhanced. We will continue to push boundaries in technology to improve business processes and land data management. The implementation of a paperless registration system will simplify the title registration process and enable more self-service transactions.
Deliver Community Legal Services
- MinLaw has started funding the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme, which is run by the Law Society’s Pro Bono Services Office. We will encourage law firms and the legal profession to continue to partner us in delivering legal aid. This will ensure access to justice for less privileged Singaporeans.
- The Registries of Moneylenders and Pawnbrokers work to ensure that borrowers are able to access credit in a safe environment. We will be implementing a series of measures to strengthen the moneylending regime, including the setting up of a centralised credit bureau for moneylenders and the introduction of an aggregate unsecured borrowing cap. We have also recently modernised the pawnbroking regime. For example, auctions have been abolished, allowing cost savings to be passed on to pawners. We have also introduced measures to strengthen the governance of the industry, such as requiring pawnbrokers to appoint an auditor to conduct a yearly audit of their business transactions.
- We will be introducing a more rehabilitative system that allows bankrupts to be discharged within clear timeframes. We will also implement reforms to encourage credit providers to undertake better risk assessment, and borrowers to work responsibly towards clearing their debt. In parallel, we will update and unify the individual bankruptcy and corporate insolvency regimes into a single piece of legislation.
Last updated on 21 Jan 2016