Table of Contents
Ministry of Law
Ministry of Law (MINLAW)
MinLaw’s mission is to ensure a sound legal infrastructure, optimise land resources and promote intellectual property to support our economic and social goals. The Singapore Land Authority (SLA), the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS), the Insolvency and Public Trustee’s Office (IPTO), the Legal Aid Bureau (LAB) and the Community Mediation Unit (CMU) come under the MinLaw family. A total budget of $319 million has been allocated to MinLaw in FY2010 to achieve this mission.
Ensure a Sound Legal Infrastructure
Sound Legal Framework and Regional Legal Services Hub
MinLaw works closely with relevant stakeholders to maintain a legal framework that supports our social objectives and economic progress. This includes strengthening the legal infrastructure and updating relevant legislation to serve our national goals.
Following the Government’s acceptance of wide ranging recommendations made by the Committee to Develop the Singapore Legal Sector that comprehensively reviewed the legal services sector in the main areas of: (a) liberalisation of the legal services sector; (b) the disciplinary process for the legal profession; and (c) legal education and professional training, the proposals related to (a) and (b) have been implemented. The Government has also implemented some proposals related to (c).
In FY2010, MinLaw will focus on working with key partners to implement the other proposals related to legal education and professional training. This will include establishing the Institute of Legal Education (ILE) which will serve as an umbrella body to oversee the provision of holistic legal education and training for lawyers in Singapore, including revamping the current Practical Law Course.
MinLaw will also review our initiatives to liberalise the legal services sector, in particular the Qualifying Foreign Law Practice (QFLP) scheme, with the intent of further liberalisation.
To modernise and enhance our criminal justice framework, MinLaw will introduce amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code. A new Coroners’ Act will also be introduced to update our coronial system and more clearly define its role so that it can better serve the public interest. Other law reform initiatives that MinLaw will be undertaking in FY2010 include reviewing the Pawnbrokers Act, the corporate rescue provisions in the Companies Act, as well as the implementation of new measures to safeguard clients’ conveyancing moneys.
$2.5 million will be allocated for these initiatives.
Regional Hub for International Arbitration
MinLaw will seek to anchor Singapore as a choice location for the conduct of international arbitration. This will include working with Maxwell Chambers, the state-of-the-art integrated dispute resolution complex, which opened in 2009, to attract more eminent international arbitration bodies from around the world to establish a presence in Singapore.
MinLaw will also continue to partner the Economic Development Board (EDB) and other agencies to promote Singapore as a venue for international arbitration and as a hub for legal transactional work.
$2.3 million will be allocated for these initiatives.
The Community Mediation Unit (CMU) promotes community mediation and provides a mediation service for community and social disputes through its network of Community Mediation Centres (CMCs) and panel of trained volunteer mediators, to strengthen social cohesion.
To optimise the quality of its mediation service for the public, CMC will further develop and enhance its training and accreditation programmes for mediators.
To ensure the effective channelling of appropriate disputes to CMC for mediation, CMC will expand its referral partner network with frontline agencies and other community-based organisations such as grassroots groups. To raise awareness of and promote the use of CMC's mediation service, CMC will develop new communication channels and materials for partners and the public, to be displayed at strategic public locations.
To cultivate a mediation culture amongst Singaporeans and educate our young about mediation as an important life-skill, CMC will continue to organise various youth outreach programmes such as an annual mediation forum, mediation training workshops and other general awareness activities in collaboration with interested schools. More than 84,000 students have been reached through such programmes to date.
$1.4 million will be allocated to CMU for its work.
To ensure access to justice for all, the Legal Aid Bureau (LAB) provides quality legal advice, assistance and aid on civil matters to persons of limited means. LAB will engage more solicitors and volunteers to support the Bureau in achieving this.
LAB will partner NUS to set up a Clinical Legal Education (CLE) programme in which students will assist with LAB’s cases under the supervision of NUS professors.
$8.0 million will be allocated for LAB’s work and the initiatives and programmes.
The Insolvency & Public Trustee’s Office (IPTO) administers individual and corporate insolvency cases with the aim of protecting and balancing the interests of both the creditors and debtors. This includes supporting both entrepreneurship and financial discipline. IPTO currently administers approximately 25,000 individual and 1,000 corporate insolvency cases.
$12.5 million will be allocated to the Insolvency Service of IPTO for its work.
The Public Trustee (PT) administers small estates of deceased persons, acts as trustee pursuant to various statutory duties to administer monies, acts as trustee of trust funds in the public interest and ensures the adequacy of compensation sums paid to victims in motor accidents, that they are not overcharged by their lawyers and they receive their compensation expeditiously.
Under the Mental Capacity Act, the Office of Public Guardian (OPG) will be established under MCYS to undertake a range of functions for the protection of persons who lack mental capacity. IPTO will support the OPG in dealing with representations (including complaints) on the way in which a donee of a lasting power of attorney or a deputy appointed by the Court is exercising his powers in relation to the financial affairs of the person who lacks mental capacity. PT will also act as a deputy of last resort to administer the financial affairs of such persons where no other person is able to act for them.
$4.0 million will be allocated to the Public Trustee Division of IPTO for this work.
Moneylending and Pawnbroking
The Registry of Moneylenders and Pawnbrokers (ROMP) licenses and regulates the activities of moneylenders and pawnbrokers in order to protect the interests of borrowers and pawners respectively.
The Pawnbrokers Act will be reviewed and updated to remove outdated provisions to keep pace with the growth of the industry. The amendments will enhance the licensing and regulatory framework and facilitate business operations.
$2.0 million will be allocated to the ROMP Division of IPTO for its work.
Create Value through Optimisation of Land and Application of Land Data
Adaptive Use of State Land and Properties
MinLaw and SLA play an active role in optimising our land resources to meet national needs. We seek to achieve a balance amongst competing demands to support economic development, social growth and cohesion, and the protection of our nature reserves and parklands; for the present and the future.
To achieve this outcome, SLA works with other government agencies, private sector and community partners to promote new, creative and innovative uses for State land and properties, as well as allocate more land to meet the needs of industries, institutions, businesses and the community. SLA also pro-actively seeks to identify remnant land, under-utlilised, and vacant State land and properties to tender out or put for interim usage. This includes formulating and improving pro-enterprise schemes for leasing them out.
To unlock the potential of State land and properties, SLA initiates land and property improvement projects to existing State properties and structures and restore them to a structurally sound, marketable and tenantable state.
Community Use of State Land
SLA contributes to social development by making vacant State land and properties available for community, social and institutional uses. To achieve this outcome, SLA rents State land and properties directly to voluntary welfare organisations (VWOs) and special needs schools, and facilitates the usage of State land and properties for arts, social and institutional purposes like supporting student activities and sculpture exhibitions. SLA also prepares, maintains and makes available open fields to the public for social and recreational purposes.
$127.8 million will be allocated for the various programmes and initiatives.
Land Information for the Public
SLA is playing a leading role to propagate the use of land data among public agencies for planning and operations. Together with Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), SLA continues to lead the whole-of-government effort to create and sustain an environment where geospatial data polices and technologies are integrated to foster innovation knowledge and value creation for the government enterprises and community. This initiative also known as Singapore Geospatial Collaborative Environment (SG-SPACE), will link up data hubs to facilitate the sharing of spatial and non-spatial data across the public sector. SLA is also working with the private sector to set up a geospatial centre to provide geospatial education, engage in applied R&D and provide a test bed for pilot applications for public and private sector.
SLA is launching the ‘OneMap’ which will provide a common map interface and platform for all government agencies to deliver public services. The private sector and community will be invited to use the OneMap Application Programming Interface to develop more useful and value-added services for the public good.
In addition, SLA is developing an integrated electronic lodgement, registration and search system for both private and public (HDB) properties. This will provide a one-stop service for lawyers and the public to obtain information for both private and public properties.
$8.1 million will be allocated for the land information programmes and initiatives.
Land Acquisition and Appeals
From time to time, land in the private sector may be required for various vital public programmes such as schools, hospitals, housing and infrastructure developments including roads, drains and mass rapid transit projects. The legal framework for the acquisition of private land by the Government is provided for in the Land Acquisition Act.
The Appeals Board (Land Acquisition) gives a fair and expeditious hearing and a just determination for every appeal against the award made by the Collector of Land Revenue for land acquired under the Land Acquisition Act.
The estimated budget for these activities is $125.5 million.
Promote Intellectual Property
MinLaw and IPOS ensure a robust and dynamic intellectual property (IP) regime that spurs innovation and supports the growth of knowledge-intensive industries in Singapore. We will continue to engage our international partners such as the World Intellectual Property Organization, foster respect for IP rights amongst the general public, and support the development of IP management capabilities in Singapore-based businesses and public agencies to enable them to fully tap the value of their IP assets. We will also promote the development of IP services in Singapore.
$4.8 million will be allocated for these initiatives.
To find out more about the Ministry of Law and our programmes and initiatives, please feel free to visit our website.