Ministry of Law's Addendum to the President's Address
15 OCT 2011
15 Oct 2011 Posted in Press releases
- The Ministry of Law (MinLaw) will continue to strengthen Singapore’s legal infrastructure and the vibrancy of its legal services sector, optimise the use of State land, and develop an Intellectual Property (IP) infrastructure that will ensure robust protection for IP and grow Singapore’s IP services sector.
- We are committed to ensuring that Singapore’s legal system remains world-class and provides our citizens fair and efficient access to justice. We will continue to work closely with the Attorney-General’s Chambers and other Government agencies to strengthen and invigorate it, keeping it relevant and responsive to economic developments and the evolving needs of our society.
- As part of these efforts, MinLaw introduced the new Criminal Procedure Code Bill to strengthen Singapore’s criminal justice framework, and the new Coroners Bill to modernise the legal framework for coroners’ inquiries and enhance the fact-finding process, in 2011. MinLaw will continue to regularly review our criminal and civil justice systems to ensure that these provide a foundation facilitative of fair and effective outcomes. Amongst others, the proliferation of New Media has brought about new challenges to the rule of law. MinLaw will review legislation to deal with harmful and unlawful online conduct.
- Another key component of a world-class rule of law framework is the provision of high quality legal services. MinLaw will ensure that Singapore’s regulatory framework for the legal services industry responds to the needs of our growing, and increasingly cosmopolitan and sophisticated economy.
- We will continue to work with legal industry stakeholders and economic agencies to position Singapore as a key hub for the provision of legal services. We will introduce and develop initiatives and measures to deepen and broaden the range and quality of legal services in Singapore. Following the successful introduction of the Qualifying Foreign Law Practice Scheme in 2009, we will continue with the measured liberalisation of the legal services sector, including the issuing of further licences under the scheme.
- We will continue to promote Singapore as a venue of choice for international dispute resolution, particularly for Asia with its tremendous growth potential. We have brought in world-class arbitration institutions to operate in Maxwell Chambers, a dedicated, highly-regarded facility for alternate dispute resolution. We will work with these institutions and law firms – both local and foreign – to further enhance Singapore’s attractiveness as an international arbitration venue. We will continue to ensure that the arbitration infrastructure in Singapore, in particular the legislation and facilities, remains world-class and is continually improved and keeps ahead of international developments.
- As the demand for legal services in Singapore continues to grow, we will put in place measures to ensure that the supply of legal talent meets the demands of our economy. Professional standards will be raised, through initiatives such as mandatory continuing professional development, to be implemented by the newly established Singapore Institute of Legal Education (SILE) in cooperation with the legal fraternity. We will also continue to promote Singapore as a regional hub for legal education, in collaboration with our local universities, the SILE and key economic agencies.
- MinLaw will ensure that legal aid remains accessible to the needy. We will review the legal aid framework regularly to ensure that it is relevant and effective, including the funding that we are channelling to organisations providing civil and criminal legal aid to the public. We will also work closely with the Law Society and other partners to encourage pro-bono activities and grow the pool of volunteers from the legal profession.
- To cultivate a more harmonious, civil and gracious society, we will continue to promote mediation as the first and preferred recourse for resolving social and community disputes. We will increase public awareness of community mediation. We will equip our community leaders with mediation skills and encourage youths to embrace mediation as a means to resolve disputes. We will improve the training framework to sharpen the skills of our volunteer mediators.
- In the administration of bankrupts and debtors under the Debt Repayment Scheme, we have introduced various initiatives, such as financial counselling, job referral services and skills upgrading programmes. These initiatives will help bankrupts and debtors better meet their repayment obligations and expedite their discharge.
- We will, in consultation with the industry, comprehensively review the corporate insolvency regime to incorporate relevant and useful developments in corporate insolvency law and widen the options available to businesses facing financial difficulty. These changes will be brought about with the introduction of a single piece of insolvency legislation governing both individuals and companies.
- In the regulation of moneylenders and pawnbrokers, we have instituted more rigorous requirements for prospective entrants to the two industries and stepped up enforcement activities against errant licensees, to continue raising the standards of professionalism in the industries.
- We will review our legislative framework and policies to ensure continued optimal use of Singapore’s scarce land resources. In particular, we will optimise the use of State land and buildings to support the economic and social development of Singapore. We will rejuvenate State properties and open up suitable State land for use by businesses and the community.
- We have implemented the central infrastructure for the Singapore Geospatial Collaborative Environment (SG-SPACE), known as GeoSpace, and will continue to drive the development of SG-SPACE to enable the public sector, private sector and people sector to share geospatial information and co-create innovative applications, thus encouraging the development of the local geospatial industry.
Intellectual Property (IP)
- With IP becoming an increasingly valuable business asset in the global knowledge economy, MinLaw will develop Singapore as an IP services hub for the region, by reviewing our policies and programmes and attracting global IP service providers to Singapore. We will forge stronger partnerships with international IP bodies that will facilitate the global filing and protection of IP through Singapore. At the same time, we will groom a deeper pool of IP professionals with the requisite competencies, and work closely with the industry to support their efforts in creating, protecting and managing IP. Our IP legislation, including the enforcement regime, will be kept up to date with global developments, and be conducive to businesses and research and development investments, even as it continues to ensure the robust protection of IP in Singapore.
Last updated on 25 Nov 2012