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Launch of the ASEAN Judiciaries Portal at the 6th Council of ASEAN Chief Justices' Meeting

   

LAUNCH OF THE ASEAN JUDICIARIES PORTAL AT THE 6th COUNCIL OF ASEAN CHIEF JUSTICES’ MEETING

27 July 2018 – The ASEAN Judiciaries Portal (“AJP”) was launched today at the 6th Council of ASEAN Chief Justices’ (“CACJ”) Meeting. The first of its kind, the AJP provides information on ASEAN judicial and legal systems, which can be easily accessed, leading to improved knowledge on the application of the rule of law within the ASEAN region. A members-only secure section within the portal also provides CACJ members a platform for knowledge sharing and communications amongst ASEAN Judiciaries.

2. The initiative was initially mooted at the 1st CACJ Meeting (previously known as ASEAN Chief Justices Meeting or ACJM) in August 2013 where Singapore undertook to develop the portal. Funding for the portal was obtained from the Norwegian-ASEAN Regional Initiatives Fund.

3. The AJP was launched by Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, the Norwegian Ambassador to ASEAN, Morten Høglund and Justice Dato Paduka Haji Hairol Arni Bin Haji Abdul Majid from the Supreme Court of Brunei Darussalam (representing the Chief Justice of Brunei Darussalam who is the current CACJ Chair). Other guests at the launch included ASEAN Chief Justices and Judges, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Social and Family Development and Second Minister for National Development, Mr Desmond Lee, Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN, Dr AKP Mochtan and ASEAN Ambassadors. A total of about 150 guests attended the launch.

4. Commenting on the launch of the AJP, Chief Justice Menon said, “I am grateful to the Norwegian Government for having agreed to fund the portal, which will greatly benefit the ASEAN legal community. Investors interested in transacting within ASEAN, as well as all those with an interest in our legal systems will find the information available on the portal very useful. For the ASEAN Judiciaries, the AJP also affords a convenient and secure platform to promote exchanges among our judges as we share experiences and information about matters that will be of interest to us. I believe that this will be a significant development that contributes to our joint efforts and aspirations to enhance and advance the rule of law in the region and in this way also to promote trade and commerce.”

5. The AJP can be accessed at: www.cacj-ajp.org. More details on the AJP can be found at Annex A.

6. The 6th CACJ Meeting is held alongside the 13th ASEAN Law Association (“ALA”) General Assembly and The ASEAN Law Conference, taking place from 25 to 28 July 2018 in Singapore. Following the 6th CACJ Meeting, Singapore will take over the chairmanship of the CACJ from Brunei. Background of the CACJ meetings can be found at Annex B.

ANNEX A

Fact sheet : Establishment of the ASEAN Judiciaries Portal

1. At the 1st meeting of the ASEAN Chief Justices (CJs) held in Singapore in August 2013, one of the initiatives proposed was to develop the CACJ’s own website portal. As such, the Chief Justices tasked Singapore to develop a proposal for establishing an internet portal for the ASEAN Judiciaries.

2. At the 2nd meeting in September 2014, the CJs agreed on the broad objectives of the ASEAN Judicial Portal (AJP) – to bring ASEAN legal jurisdictions to the world by providing a portal to allow them to appreciate, and learn more about the judiciaries and legal environments of the ASEAN Member States (AMS). This would enhance the flow of investments and commerce through the familiarisation, knowledge and accessibility of such information.

3. At the initial stage, the AJP was intended to foster mutual knowledge and appreciation of each AMS’ legal systems and legal environments. At this 2nd Chief Justices meeting in 2014, the Chief Justices agreed for Singapore to pursue the development of the AJP and for the accreditation of the then ACJM (now CACJ) as an entity associated with ASEAN and to source funding for the AJP.

4. In March 2015, at the CJs meeting held in Boracay, Philippines, the CJs agreed to rename the AJP to “ASEAN Judiciaries Portal”.

5. In April 2016 at the CJs meeting held in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, the CJs authorised Singapore to pursue negotiations with ASEAN to source for the funding required to develop the AJP website and for the development of the AJP in partnership with the Singapore Academy of Law (“SAL”).

6. In Jan 2017, the CACJ was recognised as an entity accredited with ASEAN. This allowed Singapore to work with the ASEAN Secretariat to secure the funding for the AJP project.

7. With this, the Norwegian Government recognised the AJP project as falling within the scope of funding under the Norwegian-ASEAN Regional Initiatives Fund (NARIF) and approved the grant for the development and maintenance of the AJP up to July 2020.

The ASEAN Judiciaries Portal going forward

8. The AJP is intended not only to showcase the laws of the AMS but to also be a living website to foster judicial cooperation amongst the AMS and to encourage the development of trade and investment for the ASEAN region.

9. The AJP also provides a platform for internal communications amongst ASEAN Judiciaries. There is a members-only secure section where the CACJ members will be able to have internal discussions and share ideas and have group communications on joint projects and draft papers.

10. The AJP will continue to leverage technology so that the ASEAN Judiciaries can continue to grow and build up our competencies as judiciaries of the future.

ANNEX B

 Fact sheet: Establishment of the Council of ASEAN Chief Justices meetings  

1st ACJM

1. CJ Menon was elected Chairman of the National Committee of Singapore at the Association’s elections in January 2013. CJ proposed a lunch meeting of all the Chief Justices (CJs) at the sidelines of the 35th ALA GC meeting in Singapore as he had noticed the increasing participation of the CJs as the Heads of Delegations of their respective ALA Chapters.

2. At the inaugural meeting, an informal lunchtime meeting held on 23 August 2013 in Singapore, all 10 ASEAN Member States (AMS) were represented by 7 CJs and 3 non CJs (Cambodia, Myanmar & Vietnam).. The Meeting resolved to:

i. Promote close relations and mutual understanding amongst the ASEAN Judiciaries;

ii. Provide a regular forum for the ASEAN CJs to discuss and exchange views on common issues facing the ASEAN Judiciaries; and

iii. Facilitate judicial cooperation and collaboration among ASEAN Judiciaries with a view to accelerate the economic growth and development of the ASEAN region.

3. The Meeting also resolved to hold future ASEAN CJs meetings in conjunction with meetings of the ALA. Thus the ASEAN Chief Justices Meeting (ACJM) was born.

4. At this 1st ACJM, 3 Working Groups (WG) were set up for:

i. Enhancing the Rule of Law to promote greater economic cooperation and to develop an internet portal to improve the flow of information among the ASEAN Judiciaries to be chaired by Singapore;

ii. Promoting Judicial Education and Training to be chaired by Indonesia; and

iii. Harnessing Judicial Cooperation through the use of court technology, case management techniques and facilitating the service of civil processes within ASEAN to be chaired by Malaysia.

2nd ACJM

5. At the 2nd ACJM which was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on 19 September 2014, 9 ASEAN CJs attended. The 2nd ACJM was a formal meeting and the reports of the 3 WGs were considered and directions were given for the way forward. At this meeting, the WG on Enhancing the Rule of Law was reconfigured as the WG on the ASEAN Judiciaries Portal (AJP) and the CJs agreed for Singapore to continue to take the lead in this project. The Philippines was tasked to co-chair the WG on Judicial Education and Training with Indonesia. The WG on Harnessing Judicial Cooperation was also reconfigured as two separate WGs being (a) WG on Case Management and Court Technology and (b) WG on Service of Civil Process within ASEAN. Both were to be chaired by Malaysia.

3rd ACJM

6. At the 3rd ACJM which was held on 2 March 2015 in the Philippines, all 10 ASEAN Member States were again represented by 7 CJs with 3 non CJs (Cambodia, Laos & Thailand). At this meeting, the CJs issued their first declaration, the Boracay Accord 2015, and affirmed their commitment to strengthen the regional solidarity of the Judiciaries of the ASEAN Member States, uphold the Rule of Law within and across the ASEAN region and enhance judicial cooperation in the region. They also agreed to work towards strengthening strategic partnerships with one another, focusing on training needs and capacities, the AJP, case management and court technology, child cross border disputes and civil processes. The CJs agreed at this meeting to set up the WG on Cross Border Child Disputes.

4th ACJM

7. At the 4th ACJM held on 1 April 2016 in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, there were 8 CJs present with Cambodia and Thailand being represented by non-CJs. The then ASEAN Secretary-General, H.E Le Luong Minh (he is Vietnamese) was an invited guest and expressed his full support for the activities of the ACJM, which he said were consistent with the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 declared by the ASEAN Leaders in 2015. At the 4th ACJM, Singapore presented a paper seeking approval for the accreditation of the ACJM as an entity associated with ASEAN in conjunction with Singapore’s role as Chair of the WG on the AJP project. The CJs agreed to this proposal.

8. It was also at the 4th ACJM that the CJs decided to rename the meeting from ACJM to the Council of ASEAN Chief Justices (CACJ) and this was reflected in the HCMC Declaration. The WG on Cross Border Child Disputes was also renamed as the WG on Cross Border Disputes Involving Children. The CJs also decided to set up a WG to study the future work of the CACJ.

9. In January 2017, the CACJ was accredited under Annex 2 of the ASEAN Charter as an entity associated with ASEAN under the category “Parliamentarians and Judiciary”.

5th CACJ

10. At the 5th Chief Justices meeting under the new name, the 5 th CACJ meeting, which was held on 24 March 2017 in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei (BSB Declaration), there were 8 CJs present. The Philippines representative was a non-CJ and Laos sent its Ambassador based in BSB. At this meeting, it was agreed, as proposed by Singapore, to formalise the election of the Chair of the CACJ. The CJs also agreed, as proposed by Singapore for the establishment of a Standing CACJ Secretariat, to be hosted by Singapore for the initial period of 5 years.

11. In 2017, a Special CACJ Meeting was also held to commemorate the 50 th anniversary of ASEAN. This Special Meeting was held on 27 October 2017 and hosted by the Philippines in Manila (Manila Declaration). At this meeting, there were 8 CJs whilst the Cambodian representative was a non CJ. Thailand did not send any representative to this meeting as the date clashed with the cremation ceremony of the previous Thai King. At this Special Meeting, the CJs agreed to adopt a CACJ Logo and to focus the training programme on 4 key areas namely, (a) Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement (b) Bankruptcy and Insolvency (c) Convergence and Harmonisation of ASEAN commercial laws and (d) the Environment.

6th CACJ

12. The 6th CACJ Meeting, will be held on 27 July 2018 in Singapore whereby the current Chair (Brunei) will hand over chairmanship of the CACJ to CJ Menon of Singapore.

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