To ensure justice is accessible to all, help is available to those who may not have the means to commence or defend both civil and criminal actions.
Legal Fees and Court Cases
The term "legal fees" is used loosely to refer to fees related to any legal matters. Generally, these are the fees involved in court cases:
Fees paid to the lawyer you engaged to give advice, represent you in court or draft and submit documents required for your case.
Fees paid to the court, also known as Court Fees, at various stages of civil cases which are usually paid when certain documents are lodged.
Fees paid to the court for hearing civil cases, also known as Hearing Fees. Hearings are free for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd day.
Fees for Court Services which you may need such as Translation Services, Interpretation Services or Commissioners for Oath.
Apart from legal fees, those lodging appeals may also need to set aside enough money for security deposits which the Court requires to cover the respondent's costs.
Free Legal Counsel for Criminal Cases
Those charged with capital offences - offences where the penalty may be death - are assigned free legal counsel under Legal Assistance Scheme for Capital Offences (LASCO). There is no means test to pass or eligibility criteria to satisfy.
For those facing non-capital charges, the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme (CLAS) provides free counsel assigned by the State to those who do not have the means to afford counsel.
The Law Society administers CLAS, while the list of lawyers available under LASCO is maintained by the Supreme Court Registry.
Subsidised Legal Counsel for Civil Cases
The Legal Aid Bureau offers help to those who have difficulty affording the fees (e.g. lawyer's fees) involved in civil actions. The Bureau offers legal advice, representation in court and drafting of legal fees. You must pass a means test and satisfy the eligibility criteria.
The Community Legal Clinic offers free, one-off basic legal advice during short sessions lasting about 20 minutes. The advice is usually general and preliminary in nature and is only for personal matters (e.g. custody).
The Legal Aid Bureau is under the Ministry of Law while the Community Legal Clinic is run by the Law Society.
Engaging a Lawyer
The law does not require you to be represented by a lawyer unless you are a body corporate (e.g. a limited company or a private limited company).
If you need help finding a lawyer that is suitable for your case, a directory of qualified lawyers is maintained by the Legal Service Regulatory Authority (LSRA). You may also contact the LSRA by telephone at 1800-CALL-LAW (1800 2255 529) or +65 2255 529 (call from overseas).