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10 March 2015

Singapore improves legal infrastructure through Criminal Legal Aid

Large and small law firms in Singapore are to take part in the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme which is to be enhanced later this month by government support which will fund 6,000 cases a year.

By Neasa MacErlean

Singapore backs criminal legal aid Chris Howey

The Criminal Legal Aid Scheme (CLAS) is administered through the Law Society - but, from 23 March, funds will be made available to increase the representation of people who cannot afford legal fees. As well as the existing cadre of lawyers who give their help for nothing, 13 law firms have now promised to take on some cases each year. The minister for Law and Foreign Affairs, K Shanmugam, said: 'The big firms have also come forward - they have assigned lawyers to work for CLAS full time, or given time off to work for CLAS.'

Unrepresented

The chair of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Home Affairs and Law, Mr Hri Kumar  Nair, said: 'Every year, thousands of people go through our criminal justice system unrepresented. There are different reasons for this, but the main reason is costs. We are not the most expensive jurisdiction for legal services, but the cost of legal representation is not something most people are prepared financially for.' Source: Channel News Asia

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