Tech solutions in place to ensure access to justice for all litigants
MinLaw is committed to ensuring access to justice for all, not just in technological solutions to enhance the delivery of quality legal services overall, but also in measures which support the litigant directly.
We thank Madam Lily Ong for her views (Legal tech should benefit both industry and public, Sept 11).
The Ministry of Law (MinLaw) is committed to ensuring access to justice for all, not just in technological solutions to enhance the delivery of quality legal services overall, but also in measures which support the litigant directly.
For the vulnerable in society, civil legal aid is available through the Legal Aid Bureau.
We are simplifying the means test and building in more flexibility to help those in need.
MinLaw also provides funding for the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme to help litigants facing criminal matters and who are unable to afford lawyers. This funding has enabled the scheme to serve four times as many litigants as before.
In addition, MinLaw is considering conditional fee agreements, or CFAs. These apply to certain international proceedings and domestic arbitrations, but studies will be conducted on whether CFAs can promote access to justice in other categories of cases as well, including in cases where the litigants might otherwise not qualify for legal aid.
On legal tech, MinLaw has worked with the Singapore Academy of Law and Law Society to encourage law firms to adopt technology and operate more efficiently.
Technology can enable lawyers to lower their cost, improve service offerings and reach out to new clients who had not before been able to afford legal counsel.
The Singapore courts also make extensive use of technology to improve its processes.
Today, law firms can e-file court documents through e-litigation; the courts will extend the e-litigation system to litigants-in-person (LIPs), who are not represented by lawyers.
The Community Justice Centre has launched the Automated Court Documents Assembly free online tool, to assist LIPs to prepare documents for selected cases.
LIPs may also use online dispute resolution (ODR) to conduct negotiations and mediation for claims online.
The courts have pioneered ODR in the Small Claims Tribunal and will progressively expand its use to other cases.
We agree that our justice system must remain accessible, especially to those most vulnerable, and MinLaw is committed to reviewing the system regularly to ensure that this remains the case.
Corporate Communications Division
Ministry of Law
Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.