More resources to boost public's awareness of legal rights

SINGAPORE - People unsure of their everyday legal rights can now refer to a book that spells them out or visit a Web portal that answers basic questions. If they want help from a lawyer, there is also an online directory that lists the legal clinic nearest to them.

The three new initiatives to raise public awareness of legal matters were launched on Monday by Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon.

Speaking at the opening of the first Law Week, he called for the law to be "demystified" so disputes can be solved quickly and affordably.

"Members of the public need to be made aware of the resources that are available to assist them," he said. "They need to know how and where they may seek and find these resources." This will help them avoid potentially "painful and traumatic" encounters with the law, he added.

The book - called Know The Law Now! - gives brief information on basic concerns such as what to do after purchasing a defective item. It is available on the Law Society's website.

Law Week aims to raise public awareness of legal rights and issues, including pro bono services. It is organised by the Singapore Academy of Law and the Law Society and includes a free talk on Wednesday at the Supreme Court, and legal clinics on Tuesday and Thursday at the Subordinate Courts.

There is also a public exhibition at the Supreme Court which gives a snapshot of criminal justice and family law here.

"A good justice system is not just about key performance indicators and clearance rates," Judge of Appeal V.K. Rajah on Monday told 500 legal fraternity members and guests during a discussion on pro bono legal work. He said there was a "responsibility" for the community to help the disadvantaged.

Another recent initiative to raise awareness of legal rights was Law Works, launched in January to give workers access to quarterly "primer" talks and a series of booklets summarising various areas of employment law.

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