Law Ministry looking at 'substantive reforms' to Singapore's legal system

SINGAPORE - The government is looking into substantive reforms to Singapore's civil and criminal law, Law Minister K Shanmugam announced on Friday (Jan 22) as part of his ministry's Addendum to the President's Address.

"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," he said.

In the sphere of family law, the Law Ministry (MinLaw) is also working on reforming the Guardianship of Infants Act, the Intestate Succession Act and the Inheritance (Family Provision) Act.

Mr Shanmugam also outlined plans to develop Singapore as a hub for international legal services and intellectual property.

"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," he said.

Meanwhile, plans are also afoot to build up a new law school at UniSIM. The new school will train lawyers who will be able to meet the needs of the community in the areas of criminal and family law.

The Ministry is also working with the Singapore Academy of Law, Singapore Institute of Legal Education and the Law Society to develop initiatives to support the continued professional development of lawyers here.

Mr Shanmugam said this would ensure a continued pipeline of high quality legal talent to meet the needs of Singapore's economy and society.

Finally, a more rehabilitative system for bankrupts to be discharged within clearer timeframes will also be introduced, Mr Shanmugam said.

This will involve reforms that encourage creditors to undertake better risk assessment, and borrowers to work responsibly towards clearing their debt.

At the same time, the current bankruptcy laws will be updated, so that the existing individual bankruptcy and corporate insolvency regimes will be unified into a single piece of legislation.

Read the Law Ministry's addendum in full here.