Singapore’s Ministry of Law (MinLaw) is pushing a Legal Aid and Advice (Amendment) Bill for First Reading in Parliament. The Bill amends the Legal Aid and Advice Act (LAAA), first, to simplify the means test for legal aid; second, to provide greater flexibility for aid to be given to those who fail the means test but have extenuating circumstances; and third, to improve the administration of legal aid. These amendments will help strengthen access to justice.
Civil legal aid is administered by the Legal Aid Bureau (LAB), a department under MinLaw. Set up in 1958, LAB celebrates its 60th Anniversary this year. Since 1958, LAB has received about 400,000 applications for legal aid. In 2017, LAB received about 9,000 applications; most were for matrimonial, claims and probate matters.
The new bill aims to address the following:
- Simplifying the means test for Legal Aid
- Providing greater flexibility to give Legal Aid
- Improving the administration of Legal Aid