Media Releases

Initiatives to Help the Public Navigate the Judicial System

 

 

 

 

 

 

MEDIA RELEASE

INITIATIVES TO HELP THE PUBLIC NAVIGATE THE JUDICIAL SYSTEM

 

         The Honourable the Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon launched two initiatives for court users at the 3rd Judiciary Volunteers Appreciation Dinner (JVAD) 2018 held at the Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel on 3 October. The Dinner recognises the sterling contributions of court volunteers who have assisted and supported the Judiciary’s various programmes for litigants and court users.

 

About Family Justice: Divorce in Singapore – What you need to know

 

2          A series of public talks titled, About Family Justice: Divorce in Singapore – What you need to know - was developed by the Family Justice Courts in collaboration with the Law Society Pro Bono Services, Community Justice Centre and Singapore University of Social Sciences. These talks aim to provide practical guidance to persons facing the stressful prospect of divorce. Collaterals on the divorce process have been produced as resource material for attendees at the Talks and for court users in general, to help them better appreciate what is involved in a divorce.  Two talks have been organised so far with more to be organised in the coming months. 

 

Witness Orientation Toolkit

 

3          The Witness Orientation Toolkit, which comprises printed books as well as online material, provides witnesses with a route map for navigating the criminal justice process.  Sara Goes to Court, and Who Will Be in Court, are two children’s books launched today as part of the Witness Orientation Toolkit. The toolkit, a collaborative effort between the State Courts, Hagar Singapore, Community Justice Centre and National University of Singapore, will cover different categories of witnesses, including vulnerable witnesses, and will be released progressively.

 

Please refer to the Annexes for more details on the initiatives.

 

Court Volunteer Awards

 

4          Chief Justice Menon also presented awards to volunteers of the Supreme Court, the State Courts and the Family Justice Courts. Six court volunteers received awards for their outstanding commitment and dedication to pro bono work. The Legal Assistance Scheme for Capital Offences (LASCO) Award recognises volunteer lawyers for their dedication to pro bono criminal defence in capital offences at the Supreme Court and the Outstanding Court Volunteer Award comprising three categories – Open Category, Advocate and Solicitor Category, and Student Category – recognises volunteers in various vocations including mediation and court-user assistance at the State Courts and the Family Justice Courts.

 

5          The six award recipients were among the 350-strong Court volunteer pool who have demonstrated their personal commitment to assisting the Courts in the delivery of justice. They are:

 

  1. Mr Allagarsamy s/o Palaniyappan

    Award: Legal Assistance Scheme for Capital Offences (LASCO) Award

    – conferred by the Supreme Court

     

  2. Mr David Hoicka

    Award: Outstanding Court Volunteer Award (Open Category)

    – conferred by the State Courts

     

  3. Ms Viviene Sandhu

    Award: Outstanding Court Volunteer Award (Advocate & Solicitor Category)

    – conferred by the State Courts

     

  4. Mr Wee Pang Kiat

    Award: Outstanding Court Volunteer Award (Open Category)

    – conferred by the Family Justice Courts

     

     

  5. Mr Yap Teong Liang

    Award: Outstanding Court Volunteer Award (Advocate & Solicitor Category)

    – conferred by the Family Justice Courts

     

  6. Ms Tay Shi Ying Victoria

Award: Outstanding Court Volunteer Award (Student Category)

– conferred by the State Courts

 

Please refer to the Annexes for more information on the award recipients.

 

6          Comprising members of the Bar, professionals and individuals from diverse backgrounds, court volunteers play an important role in ensuring that everyone has access to justice.

 

7          Over 450 Court volunteers and Judiciary staff attended the Dinner, hosted by Chief Justice Menon. Expressing his deep appreciation to the volunteers for their contributions in pro bono work, Chief Justice Menon said, “Our volunteers are the unsung heroes who give of their time to help those who cannot afford lawyers, access justice. I am also heartened by the collaborative initiatives led by the courts to demystify the judicial process and provide guidance and assistance to those who need to come before the courts.”

 

 

Issued by       : Supreme Court, State Courts, and Family Justice Courts

Date                : 01 October 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

Annex A

 

FACTSHEET

 

ABOUT FAMILY JUSTICE:

DIVORCE IN SINGAPORE – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

 

About Family Justice: Divorce in Singapore – What you need to know, is an initiative by Family Justice Courts in collaboration with Law Society Pro Bono Services (“LSPBS”), Community Justice Centre and the Singapore University of Social Sciences (“SUSS”), to help individuals who are contemplating divorce or going through divorce. The initiative comprises an on-going public talk on divorce (“Talk”) as well as a series of complementary collaterals on the divorce process.

 

2.         Entitled Divorce and You, the free Talk covers the divorce process and procedure as well as offer information on the help services available to litigants at various stages. Scheduled in the evenings for the convenience of working adults, the Talks are currently held every other month at LSPBS. The Talks will equip and empower individuals with the necessary knowledge and tools to better manage the often stressful situation and make informed decisions on divorce matters.

 

3.         FJC, in partnership with SUSS, has produced a leaflet [1] and a brochure [2] on the divorce process as resource material for attendees at the Talks and court users in general. The hardcopy leaflet and brochure are being distributed at the FJC divorce registry, at LPBS’s island-wide legal clinics and at CJC’s Help Services Centres and LInKS office.  They are also available for download from FJC’s and CJC’s website. FJC will also make available vernacular versions of the brochure in the 4th quarter of 2018. An informational video [3] on the divorce process is currently in production.

 

 



 

[1] A single A4 sheet that sets out a clear and simple flowchart of the divorce process in the form of an infographic.

[2] A brochure that provides detailed information on the divorce process.

[3] A 5-minute video that provides a brief overview of the divorce process in Singapore

 


 

Annex B

 

FACTSHEET

 

WITNESS ORIENTATION TOOLKIT

 

Background

The Witness Orientation Toolkit (WOT) is intended to comprise materials targeted at assisting vulnerable witnesses (which may include victims) as well as the caregivers and supporters of such witnesses as they prepare to attend court as a witness.  Vulnerable witnesses include children, persons with mental disabilities and incapacities, as well as victims of sexual offences.

 

The WOT is a collaboration involving four organisations:

  • State Courts
  • Hagar Singapore
  • Community Justice Centre
  • Centre for Pro Bono & Clinical Legal Education, Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore

 

Two Picture Books for Children

The first instalment of the WOT consists of two picture books for children – Who Will Be in Court and Sara Goes to Court. The original books developed by Hagar International and UNICEF (titled Who Will Be in Court and Bona Goes to Court) were modified to suit the Singapore context. The characters in the adapted books were drawn by Jolie Lim, a young artist and a student at Pathlight School.

 

  • Who Will Be in Court

Suitable for children aged 5 and below, it presents a simple illustration of the different people that a child will encounter in Court. These persons and their roles are described in simple language, with an accompanying depiction of the person. The book also includes child-friendly cut-outs that can be used by caregivers and supporters to play games with the child.

 

  • Sara Goes to Court

Suitable for children between the ages of 4 and 8, it presents a narrative about a child, Sara, who has to go to Court. The narrative speaks of her anxieties, and allays them by depicting the measures available to make her feel better. The illustrations that accompany the text are intended to show readers the avenues available to make them feel safe about going to Court. Readers are also educated about their role as a witness in Court.

 

These two books were launched as part of the Witness Orientation Toolkit by The Honourable the Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon at the Judiciary Volunteers Appreciation Dinner on 3 October 2018.

 

Availability of books

All books may be accessed online through the websites of the partner organisations:

 

Copies of the two books will also be extended to the following:

  • Primary Schools
  • National library and its branches
  • Family Service Centres

 

To obtain copies of the book, members of the public can visit the Community Justice Centre or email help@cjc.org.sg to submit a request. 

 

The Community Justice Centre will also hold its informational sessions for the social sector, Through the Wooden Doors, on 12 October 2018. Some copies of the picture books will be made available to the public at the event.

 

Future Plans

The next book is a General Legal Toolkit, which intends to be a practical guide for caregivers and professionals who support vulnerable witnesses through the criminal justice process. It has been targeted for release in the first quarter of 2019.

Other publications are targeted to be released over the course of 2019.

 

 

About the Artist

 

 

Jolie Lim is a student from Pathlight School. She is lively, bright, vivacious, and very talented. Many of Jolie’s works have been turned into bags, T-shirts, notebooks, and other items. Her work can be seen and purchased from the Art Faculty at the Enabling Village or Mustard Tree, a shop at Ng Teng Fong General Hospital.

 

 

   


 

Annex C

 

Outstanding Court Volunteer Awards 2017

Award recipients

 

  1. Mr Allagarsamy s/o Palaniyappan

Award: Legal Assistance Scheme for Capital Offences (LASCO) Award

– conferred by the Supreme Court

 

Mr Allagarsamy s/o Palaniyappan is a sole proprietor of Allagarsamy & Co. He has been practising for the past 20 years and his area of practice includes Civil and Criminal Litigation, Contract, Commercial Law, Matrimonial, accident claims, workmen compensation and other conveyancing. He has contributed significantly to LASCO for the past few years and is a senior member of the Criminal Bar. He has always shown a willingness to take on LASCO assignments when approached by the Criminal Registry. He was given the Minister for Law Appreciation Award in 2011 for his commendable contribution as a volunteer with MinLaw.

 

  1. Mr David Hoicka

Award: Outstanding Court Volunteer Award (Open Category)

– conferred by the State Courts

 

Mr David Hoicka has been a volunteer mediator at the State Courts since 2015. Mr Hoicka has vast experience in mediating civil, consumer, labour and engineering related disputes. He has successfully mediated many cases assigned to him.  Mr Hoicka’s experience and skill in mediation has helped parties to make informed decisions and settle their disputes amicably. He is also a trainer for mediation and has conducted trainings for Singapore Mediation Centre.

 

  1. Ms. Viviene Sandhu

Award: Outstanding Court Volunteer Award (Advocate & Solicitor Category)

– conferred by the State Courts

 

Ms Viviene Sandhu has been a volunteer mediator at the State Courts since 2011 and has demonstrated exceptional commitment and determination in mediating cases at the State Courts. In the last year, Ms Sandhu achieved a remarkable case settlement rate of 100%, an immense testament to her finely honed mediation skills which have won over parties and solicitors alike. 

 

Ms Sandhu is an accredited mediator and arbitrator. She was appointed as a fellow with the Singapore Institute of Arbitrators and as a Senior Mediator in the Law Society Mediation Scheme. She is also an Associate Mediator with the Singapore Mediation Centre, an Assigned Solicitor with the Legal Aid Bureau and a Primary Justice Lawyer with the Community Justice Centre.

 

  1. Mr Wee Pang Kiat

Award: Outstanding Court Volunteer Award (Open Category)

– conferred by the Family Justice Courts

 

Mr Wee Pang Kiat has been a volunteer mediator for maintenance disputes with the Courts since 2008.  This year marks the 10th year of him being a volunteer with Maintenance Mediation Chambers (MMC), for which he is also getting a 10-year Long Service Award.

 

Though Mr Wee is not legally trained, he has displayed a high level of professionalism when handling complex cases with the parties and their lawyers. His passion and enthusiasm is also evidenced by his immediate offer to continue with his volunteer work at FJC soon after a medical procedure earlier this year. Besides FJC, Mr Wee is also a volunteer mediator with Community Mediation Centre and Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support and Training (FAST), and is actively involved in grassroots volunteer work.

 

  1. Mr Yap Teong Liang

Award: Outstanding Court Volunteer Award (Category/ Advocate & Solicitor Category)

– conferred by the Family Justice Courts

 

Mr Yap Teong Liang has been a volunteer with the Family Justice Courts since 2013. Mr Yap is one of the family mediators in the inaugural Family Panel of the Singapore Mediation Centre formed in 2015. Notwithstanding his busy schedule and private practice specialising in Family Law, Mr Yap actively volunteers as a Family Mediator with the Family Dispute Resolution Division.

 

Mr Yap consistently achieves a high settlement rate. His dedication and commitment to the practice of family law and craft of mediation is widely known and respected amongst his peers. He is continually seeking to expand his knowledge and attends training locally and overseas to hone his craft as a mediator and be trained in social science aspects dealing with children. He has given seminars on family law issues and is a contributor of articles on family law issues. He has also presented papers at conferences both locally and abroad.

 

Mr Yap is also a trained Child Representative in first panel of Child Representatives introduced by the Family Justice Courts in 2014, and has been active in that capacity.

 

  1. Ms Victoria Tay Shi Ying

Award: Outstanding Court Volunteer Award (Student Category)

– conferred by the State Courts

 

Ms Victoria Tay Shi Ying is a third year law student at the National University of Singapore (NUS).  Victoria has been volunteering at the State Courts’ Student Representative Programme (SRP) since 2017. She assists litigants-in-person (LIPs) in community disputes, small claims, employments claims and harassment cases, guiding them through the court processes. Victoria worked to develop a translation package which includes key terms and phrases to enable other student volunteers to communicate more effectively with LIPs who are more comfortable conversing in their Mother Tongue.  Victoria’s commitment to helping others was also demonstrated when she translated several forms in Mandarin and Malay to help LIPs in their application process. She also helped to improve the training programme and materials which improved the orientation process and helped to publicise the SRP to attract more volunteers.

 


 

Annex D

 

Outstanding Court Volunteer Awards 2017

Award types and categories

 

LASCO Award

The essence of the Legal Assistance Scheme for Capital Offences (LASCO) is to ensure access to justice for those charged with criminal conduct and facing a capital charge. Since inception, it has stood as an important feature in the Singapore criminal justice landscape ensuring fairness is observed in the criminal justice process. The LASCO award, conferred by the Supreme Court, is presented to a deserving counsel in recognition of the counsel’s commitment and contributions to LASCO and service rendered to the State and the community.

 

Outstanding Court Volunteer Awards

The Outstanding Court Volunteer Awards (Advocate & Solicitor Category and Open Category), conferred by the State Courts and the Family Justice Courts, are presented to individuals who have demonstrated outstanding commitment and dedication as volunteers with the State Courts or the Family Justice Courts. The Outstanding Court Volunteer Award (Student Category), conferred by the State Courts, recognises students who volunteer their time with the State Courts under the student volunteer programmes such as the Student Representatives Programme, and Student Research Assistants Programme (please refer to Annex E).

 

 


 

Annex E

 

State Courts Student Volunteer Programmes

Student Representatives Programme

 

Launched in June 2016, the Student Representatives Programme (SRP) is a collaboration between the State Courts and the NUS Pro Bono Office. It is designed to assist qualifying litigants-in-person (LIPs) in harassment cases, community disputes, small claims and employment claims cases. Students of the NUS Faculty of Law participating in this scheme perform the important role of guiding litigants to navigate and adhere to Court processes. They assist in the following ways:

 

  • Explaining the application procedures and timeline

  • Explaining forms and their requirements

  • Helping to complete forms, subject to LIPs passing a means test

  • Helping to check that documents are assembled and organised for filing

 

While students are able to provide information on Court and tribunal processes, they are not permitted to provide legal advice. The work of the students is supervised by the NUS Pro Bono Office, but does not constitute legal advice. LIPs who require legal advice will be referred to volunteer lawyers at legal clinics.

 

The SRP gives students the opportunity to interact with LIPs, judges and experienced Court administrators. It also provides them with exposure to a wide range of cases involving a variety of issues that affect the common citizen.

 

Student Research Assistants Programme

 

The Student Research Assistants Programme (StRAP) is a collaboration between the State Courts and Temasek Polytechnic. Under the StRAP, Temasek Polytechnic’s Law and Management Diploma Programme students provide support for the State Courts’ Sentencing Information & Research Repository (SIR), a sentencing database of the results of cases prosecuted in the State Courts. Supervised by State Courts’ officers and judges, the student research assistants analyse and summarise case information presented in these cases, including the outcome of appeal cases. The case analysis and summaries are then incorporated in the SIR.

 

Through StRAP, the student research assistants are able to gain experience in legal research, complementing their curriculum.  Their support, in turn, enables the State Courts officers and judges to update the SIR efficiently so that the Courts, Prosecution and the Defence Bar can access SIR to refer to precedent cases that may have a bearing on their cases.

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