REPUBLIC OF SINGAPORE
GOVERNMENT GAZETTE
ACTS SUPPLEMENT
Published by Authority

NO. 47]Friday, December 28 [2018

The following Act was passed by Parliament on 19 November 2018 and assented to by the President on 21 December 2018:—
Legal Aid and Advice (Amendment) Act 2018

(No. 50 of 2018)


I assent.

HALIMAH YACOB,
President.
21 December 2018.
An Act to amend the Legal Aid and Advice Act (Chapter 160 of the 2014 Revised Edition) and to make consequential amendments to the Legal Profession Act (Chapter 161 of the 2009 Revised Edition).
Be it enacted by the President with the advice and consent of the Parliament of Singapore, as follows:
Short title and commencement
1.  This Act is the Legal Aid and Advice (Amendment) Act 2018 and comes into operation on a date that the Minister appoints by notification in the Gazette.
Amendment of section 2
2.  Section 2 of the Legal Aid and Advice Act (called in this Act the principal Act) is amended —
(a)by deleting the words “referred to in Part I of the First Schedule” in the definition of “court” and substituting the words “mentioned in section 5(1) or (1A)”;
(b)by deleting the definition of “Grant of Aid” and substituting the following definition:
“ “Grant of Aid” means a document issued under section 8 stating that legal aid is granted to a person (whether on a provisional basis or otherwise);”; and
(c)by inserting, immediately after the definition of “judge”, the following definition:
“ “legal advice” has the meaning given by section 20;”.
Amendment of section 3
3.  Section 3 of the principal Act is amended —
(a)by deleting subsections (3) and (4) and substituting the following subsections:
(3)  The Director of Legal Aid may —
(a)appoint such number of public officers of such qualifications and experience as the Director of Legal Aid considers appropriate, for the purpose of assisting him, and the Deputy Directors and Assistant Directors of Legal Aid in carrying out any of their duties under this Act; and
(b)assign to those appointed public officers such duties as the Director of Legal Aid considers appropriate for the purpose mentioned in paragraph (a).
(4)  Despite any other written law, for the purposes of this Act, the following persons have the right to appear and plead in all courts of justice in Singapore according to the law in force in those courts:
(a)the Director and every Deputy Director or Assistant Director of Legal Aid;
(b)a public officer who is appointed under subsection (3), and is assigned under that subsection any duty that requires the public officer to appear and plead in those courts.”; and
(b)by inserting, immediately after the words “Legal Aid” in the section heading, the word “, etc.”.
Amendment of section 4
4.  Section 4 of the principal Act is amended by inserting, immediately after subsection (1), the following subsection:
(1A)  The Director may appoint a solicitor to a panel mentioned in subsection (1) for a term of 3 years, or such longer or shorter period as the Director may specify in any particular case, beginning on such date as the Director may specify in the solicitor’s letter of appointment.”.
Amendment of section 5
5.  Section 5 of the principal Act is amended by deleting subsection (1) and substituting the following subsections:
(1)  Subject to this Part, legal aid may be given to a citizen or permanent resident of Singapore in relation to any civil proceedings mentioned in Part I of the First Schedule (not being any proceedings mentioned in Part II of that Schedule).
(1A)  Despite subsection (1), the Director may authorise the giving of legal aid to a citizen or permanent resident of Singapore in relation to any proceedings mentioned in Part II of the First Schedule, if the Director is satisfied that those proceedings are, or are likely to be, related to any civil proceedings mentioned in that subsection.
(1B)  In deciding whether any proceedings mentioned in Part II of the First Schedule are, or are likely to be, related to any civil proceedings mentioned in subsection (1), the Director may consider —
(a)whether a court has ordered, or may order, that the proceedings mentioned in Part II of the First Schedule, and the civil proceedings mentioned in subsection (1), be consolidated or tried at the same time, on the ground that some common question of fact arises in both proceedings; and
(b)any other circumstances that may be specified in any regulations made under this Act.”.
Amendment of section 6
6.—(1)  Section 6 of the principal Act is amended —
(a)by inserting, immediately after subsection (1), the following subsection:
(1A)  An application for legal aid must be —
(a)made in the form and manner required by the Director; and
(b)accompanied by any documents and information required by the Director.”;
(b)by deleting the words “sections 8(2)(b) and 9(1)” in subsection (3)(b) and substituting the words “section 8(2)(b)”;
(c)by deleting the words “shall, upon attaining the age of 21 years, make a fresh application under subsection (1) for legal aid in his own right to the Director” in subsection (5) and substituting the words “must give to the Director, within the prescribed time after the aided person attains 21 years of age, and in the form and manner required by the Director, a written consent to continue receiving legal aid”; and
(d)by inserting, immediately after subsection (5), the following subsection:
(6)  Every aided person who gives a written consent under subsection (5) is deemed to have made a fresh application for legal aid in that person’s own right.”.
(2)  Section 6(3) of the principal Act, as amended by subsection (1)(b), is amended —
(a)by deleting “8(2)(a)” in paragraph (a) and substituting the words “8(1)(b) or (2)(c)”; and
(b)by deleting the words “section 8(2)(b) or in the Second Schedule” in paragraph (b) and substituting the words “section 8(1)(a) or (2)(b)”.
Amendment of section 8
7.  Section 8 of the principal Act is amended —
(a)by deleting subsections (1) and (2) and substituting the following subsections:
(1)  The Director may approve an application for legal aid, and issue a Grant of Aid to an applicant in connection with any proceedings, if —
(a)the Director is of the opinion that the applicant satisfies the prescribed means criteria; and
(b)either of the following applies:
(i)in any case where those proceedings are prescribed proceedings or belong to a prescribed class of proceedings — the Director is of the opinion that the applicant has reasonable grounds for taking, defending, continuing or being a party to those proceedings;
(ii)in any other case — a board (consisting of the Director and not fewer than 2 solicitors on an appropriate panel of solicitors maintained under section 4) is of the opinion that the applicant has reasonable grounds for taking, defending, continuing or being a party to those proceedings.
(2)  Pending the determination of an application under subsection (1), the Director may despite that subsection approve an application for legal aid, and issue a Grant of Aid on a provisional basis to an applicant in connection with any proceedings, if the Director is of the opinion that the applicant —
(a)requires legal aid as a matter of urgency;
(b)is likely to satisfy the prescribed means criteria; and
(c)is likely to have reasonable grounds for taking, defending, continuing or being a party to those proceedings.”; and
(b)by deleting subsection (4) and substituting the following subsections:
(4)  Despite any provision of this Act (including any regulations made under this Act), the Minister may —
(a)authorise the Director to issue a Grant of Aid to any person in connection with any proceedings, if the Minister is of the opinion that it is in the public interest that legal aid be granted to the person in that connection; and
(b)direct the Director to approve an application for legal aid, and issue a Grant of Aid under subsection (1) or (2) to an applicant, even though the Director is of the opinion that the applicant does not satisfy, or is not likely to satisfy, the prescribed means criteria, if the Minister is of the opinion that it is just and proper that legal aid be granted to the applicant.
(5)  For the purposes of subsection (4)(b), the Minister may authorise any person (including a panel of persons), with such qualifications and experience as the Minister considers appropriate in relation to assessing the financial circumstances of an applicant, to exercise the power under that subsection.
(6)  An authorisation under subsection (5) —
(a)may be subject to such conditions and restrictions as the Minister may specify in writing; and
(b)does not prevent the Minister from exercising the power under subsection (4)(b).
(7)  Once an authorisation is made under subsection (5), the Minister must —
(a)cause a copy of the authorisation to be given to the authorised person; and
(b)without delay cause to be published a notice of the making and giving of the authorisation in the Gazette.”.
Repeal of section 9
8.  Section 9 of the principal Act is repealed.
Amendment of section 10
9.  Section 10 of the principal Act is amended by deleting subsections (3) and (4) and substituting the following subsections:
(3)  Where a notification under subsection (2) is filed in a court in respect of any proceedings, the following apply unless the court (before which those proceedings are pending) orders otherwise:
(a)all steps in those proceedings are stayed for a period of 14 days after the date on which the notification is filed;
(b)during that period, the time fixed by or under any written law, for doing any act or taking any step in those proceedings, does not run.
(4)  The period mentioned in subsection (3)(a) may be reduced or extended by an order of the court.”.
Amendment of section 12
10.  Section 12 of the principal Act is amended —
(a)by inserting, immediately after the words “any proceedings to which the Grant of Aid relates” in subsection (4)(b), the words “, and of any other document in connection with those proceedings as may be prescribed”;
(b)by deleting the words “sections 9 and 13” in subsection (5) and substituting the words “sections 13 and 22A”; and
(c)by deleting the words “section 9(2)” in subsection (6)(a) and substituting the words “section 22A(3)”.
Amendment of section 13
11.  Section 13(2) of the principal Act is amended by deleting the words “section 9(1)” in paragraph (b) and substituting the words “section 22A(1)”.
Amendment of section 14
12.  Section 14 of the principal Act is amended —
(a)by deleting subsection (1) and substituting the following subsection:
(1)  Where it appears to a court that any of the circumstances mentioned in subsection (3) exists in relation to an aided person, the court may order the aided person to pay the costs of all or any of the following persons:
(a)the Director;
(b)the solicitor who acted for the aided person;
(c)the other party.”;
(b)by deleting subsection (3) and substituting the following subsection:
(3)  For the purposes of subsection (1), the circumstances are as follows:
(a)the Grant of Aid issued to the aided person has been obtained by fraud or misrepresentation;
(b)the aided person acted improperly in bringing or defending any legal proceedings, or in the conduct of those proceedings.”; and
(c)by deleting the words “or (3)” in subsections (4) and (6).
Amendment of section 16
13.  Section 16 of the principal Act is amended —
(a)by deleting subsection (1) and substituting the following subsections:
(1)  Where an aided person is entitled to costs in any proceedings to which the aided person is a party —
(a)the court must make, in favour of the aided person, such order for costs as the court would have made in favour of a person who is not an aided person; and
(b)where costs follow the event, the aided person is entitled to the same costs as a person who is not an aided person.
(1A)  Subsection (1) does not apply to any costs against another aided person.”;
(b)by deleting subsections (4) and (5); and
(c)by deleting the words “subsections (1), (2), (3) and (4)” in subsection (6) and substituting the words “subsections (1), (1A), (2) and (3)”.
Amendment of section 17
14.  Section 17 of the principal Act is amended —
(a)by deleting the words “, a notification in a prescribed form” in subsection (1) and substituting the words “, a notification of the making of the application;”; and
(b)by deleting subsections (2) and (3) and substituting the following subsections:
(2)  Where a notification under subsection (1) is filed in respect of any proceedings, the following apply unless the court (before which those proceedings are pending) orders otherwise:
(a)all steps in those proceedings are stayed for a period of 14 days after the date on which the notification is filed;
(b)during that period, the time fixed by or under any written law, for doing any act or taking any step in those proceedings, does not run.
(3)  Despite subsection (2), the filing of the notification under subsection (1) does not prevent any of the following:
(a)the making of an interlocutory order for an injunction, or for the appointment of a receiver, a manager or a receiver and manager;
(b)the making of an order to prevent the lapse of a caveat against dealings with land;
(c)the making of any other order which, in the opinion of the court, is necessary to prevent an irremediable injustice;
(d)the institution or continuance of proceedings to obtain, enforce or otherwise carry into effect an order mentioned in paragraph (a), (b) or (c), unless the court orders otherwise.
(4)  The period mentioned in subsection (2)(a) may be reduced or extended by an order of the court.”.
Amendment of section 18
15.  Section 18 of the principal Act is amended —
(a)by inserting, immediately after the words “in respect of that matter” in subsection (1), the words “within the prescribed time”;
(b)by inserting, immediately after subsection (1), the following subsection:
(1A)  Despite subsection (1), the Director may consider a fresh application for legal aid that is made outside the prescribed time mentioned in that subsection, if —
(a)the aided person filed a notice of appeal in respect of the proceedings mentioned in that subsection before making that application; or
(b)the Director is of the opinion that there are extenuating circumstances for not making that application by that prescribed time.”; and
(c)by inserting, immediately after the words “any proceedings” in subsection (2), the words “to which a Grant of Aid relates”.
Amendment of section 20
16.  Section 20 of the principal Act is amended —
(a)by deleting subsection (2) and substituting the following subsection:
(2)  Any legal advice under subsection (1) may consist of any of the following:
(a)oral advice, by the Director or a solicitor whose name is on an appropriate panel of solicitors maintained under section 4, on any matter that may result in any proceedings for which legal aid may be given;
(b)advice and assistance in preparing legal documents for purposes that are not related to any proceedings for which legal aid may be given;
(c)any other matter that may be prescribed,
but does not include any advice, assistance or other matter in respect of any law that is not the law of Singapore.”; and
(b)by deleting the words “questions on which” in subsection (3) and substituting the words “matters for which”.
New section 22A
17.  The principal Act is amended by inserting, immediately after section 22, the following section:
Contributions
22A.—(1)  The Director may require a person to make one or more contributions, in a lump sum or by instalments, in respect of any matter for which an application for legal aid or legal advice has been made by that person.
(2)  Where an application mentioned in subsection (1) is made on behalf of a minor by the minor’s guardian, a reference in subsection (1) to a person is a reference to —
(a)in any case where the minor is unmarried and the guardian is a relative (within the meaning of section 6(4)) of the minor — both the guardian and the minor; and
(b)in any other case — the minor only.
(3)  Unless the regulations made under this Act otherwise provide, any sum remaining unpaid on account of a person’s contribution, in respect of any matter for which legal aid has been granted, is a first charge on any property that is recovered or preserved for that person in the proceedings connected to the matter, in favour of any fund established under this Act.
(4)  For the purposes of subsection (3), a reference to any property recovered or preserved for a person in any proceedings includes a reference to both of the following:
(a)the person’s rights under any settlement or compromise to avoid, or to end, those proceedings;
(b)any sums recovered by the person as damages or costs under an order made in the person’s favour in those proceedings (other than any sums payable to the Director under section 14 or 16).
(5)  The charge under subsection (3) does not prevent a court from allowing any damages or costs mentioned in subsection (4)(b) that are recovered by a person to be set off against any damages or costs awarded against that person, in any case where a solicitor’s lien for costs would not prevent the court from allowing that set off.
(6)  The Director may, in the Director’s discretion, reduce any contribution, or waive or refund the whole or any part of any contribution, that a person is required to pay under subsection (1).”.
Amendment of section 23
18.  Section 23 of the principal Act is amended —
(a)by deleting subsection (1) and substituting the following subsection:
(1)  The Minister may make regulations for prescribing all matters that this Act requires or permits to be prescribed, or that are necessary or expedient for carrying out or giving effect to this Act.”;
(b)by deleting sub‑paragraph (i) of subsection (2)(e) and substituting the following sub‑paragraph:
(i)a person is issued a Grant of Aid on a provisional basis;”;
(c)by deleting the word “and” at the end of subsection (2)(e)(iii);
(d)by inserting, immediately after paragraph (e) of subsection (2), the following paragraph:
(ea)provide for the period when a Grant of Aid issued on a provisional basis is in force, and for matters relating to the lapse or extension of such Grant of Aid; and”;
(e)by deleting the word “prescribe” in subsection (2)(f) and substituting the words “provide for”; and
(f)by inserting, immediately after subsection (4), the following subsection:
(4A)  The powers conferred by this section do not extend to any matter for which Rules of Court or Family Justice Rules may be made under section 19.”.
Repeal of section 24
19.  Section 24 of the principal Act is repealed.
Amendment of First Schedule
20.  The First Schedule to the principal Act is amended —
(a)by deleting the Schedule reference and substituting the following Schedule reference:
Section 5(1), (1A) and (1B)”; and
(b)by deleting the Part heading of Part II and substituting the following Part heading:
PROCEEDINGS FOR WHICH LEGAL AID IS
GENERALLY NOT GIVEN”.
Repeal of Second Schedule
21.  The Second Schedule to the principal Act is repealed.
Saving and transitional provisions
22.—(1)  Every application for legal aid that is pending immediately before the date of commencement of section 7 must be treated as if made under the principal Act as amended by that section (called in this section the Amended Act).
(2)  A board constituted for the purposes of section 8(1) of the principal Act as in force immediately before the date of commencement of section 7 must be treated as if it were a board constituted for the purposes of section 8(1)(b)(ii) of the Amended Act.
(3)  An opinion formed by a board under section 8(2)(a) of the principal Act as in force immediately before the date of commencement of section 7, in connection with any proceedings must be treated as if it were —
(a)in any case where those proceedings are prescribed proceedings or belong to a prescribed class of proceedings mentioned in section 8(1)(b)(i) of the Amended Act — an opinion formed on that date by the Director; or
(b)in any other case — an opinion formed on that date by a board constituted for the purposes of section 8(1)(b)(ii) of the Amended Act.
(4)  Where the Director is satisfied, before the date of commencement of section 7, of the matters mentioned in section 8(2)(b)(i) and (ii) of the principal Act as in force immediately before that date, the applicant is deemed to have satisfied, on that date, the prescribed means criteria mentioned in section 8(1)(a) of the Amended Act.
(5)  Any authorisation of the Minister under section 8(4) of the principal Act as in force immediately before the date of commencement of section 7 is deemed to be an authorisation of the Minister under section 8(4)(a) of the Amended Act.
(6)  For a period of 2 years after the date of commencement of any provision of this Act, the Minister may, by regulations, prescribe such additional provisions of a saving or transitional nature consequent on the enactment of that provision as the Minister may consider necessary or expedient.
Consequential amendments to Legal Profession Act
23.  The Legal Profession Act (Cap. 161) is amended —
(a)by deleting the word “and” at the end of section 29(2)(b);
(b)by deleting paragraph (c) of section 29(2) and substituting the following paragraphs:
(c)the Director, a Deputy Director or an Assistant Director of Legal Aid to appear and plead in those courts under the provisions of the Legal Aid and Advice Act (Cap. 160) or the International Child Abduction Act (Cap. 143C); and
(d)a public officer mentioned in section 3(4)(b) of the Legal Aid and Advice Act to appear and plead in those courts under the provisions of that Act.”; and
(c)by deleting paragraph (c) of section 34(1) and substituting the following paragraphs:
(c)the Director, a Deputy Director or an Assistant Director of Legal Aid acting in the course of the duties of the Director, Deputy Director or Assistant Director of Legal Aid (as the case may be) under the provisions of the Legal Aid and Advice Act or the International Child Abduction Act;
(ca)a public officer mentioned in section 3(4)(b) of the Legal Aid and Advice Act acting in the course of that public officer’s duties under that Act;”.