Singapore Ministry of Law mulls Public Defender’s Office

Public Defender's Office

Singapore Ministry of Law studies feasibility of Public Defender’s Office

The Ministry of Law is studying the details and feasibility of setting up a Public Defender’s Office, under which the government employs lawyers to defend financially troubled persons facing criminal cases based on suitable means and merits testing.

Speaking during a ministerial statement on the high profile acquittal of former domestic helper Parti Liyani, Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam said the primary consideration of the office would be “to ensure that those who can’t afford lawyers can get access to justice without the situation becoming fiscally difficult for the taxpayer”.

Currently, the Law Society’s Criminal Legal Aid Scheme (CLAS) provides legal aid to accused persons facing non-capital offences, after carrying out means and merits testing. It covers those in the bottom 25 per cent of household income.

The government pays 75 per cent of CLAS’ operating costs. Where the accused person is a Singaporean, the money can be used to pay honoraria, or a payment for professional services provided nominally without official charge, to his or her lawyer.

Source: Amir Hussain | Yahoo News