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     The Legislation Division of the Attorney-General’s Chambers started the “Plain Laws Understandable by Singaporeans" (“ PLUS ") Project in 2013.

          The Legislation Division of AGC is Singapore’s central law drafting office. For more information on the work of the Legislation Division, please click here .

2    The PLUS Project's aim is to ensure that our written laws remain drafted and presented in a manner that is clear, readable and more easily understood by the people to whom the laws apply. The scope of the PLUS Project includes modernising the text and design of Singapore’s written laws and enhancing the features of the Singapore Statutes Online (" SSO "), which gives the public free access to an unofficial version of Singapore legislation.

          Click here for AGC’s media statement on 8 November 2013 on the PLUS Project.

3     The Legislation Division conducted an online public survey (from 12 November to 12 December 2013) to better understand the needs, preferences and expectations of the readers of Singapore’s legislation and users of SSO. The survey covered different aspects of the drafting and presentation of legislation, including the use of plain English, aids to understanding legislation, amending language, and the layout and design of printed and online versions of legislation. 

4    1,058 individuals participated in the survey, of whom
     
  • about 70% had no legal training;
  • about 60% were young adults (between 20 to 39 years of age);
  • about 46% were from the public sector; and
  • about 34% were from the general public.

      
       Click here for AGC’s media statement on 28 February 2014 on the PLUS public survey results.            

6    Since 2014, the Legislation Division has been progressively implementing changes in law drafting, SSO and related areas in response to the PLUS public survey. A progressive approach has to be taken because our laws are never universally amended, and old and new legislation must continue to be read together.    
     
7    Below are some of the PLUS Initiatives that have been implemented by the Legislation Division:
    
  • New laws are now better organised/designed in plain English as far as is possible ― for example:

    • Legislative sentences in new Acts and subsidiary legislation are shorter.

    • Lengthy provisions and complex concepts are broken down into separate paragraphs or provisions.

    • Simpler text is adopted in new legislation where possible ― for example:

      • archaic words like "hereby", "heretobefore", etc., are discontinued altogether;

      • a period which would be described as "X days' notice" is expressed in terms of "the Xth day after a specified event" to specify clearly the time for doing something;

      • "shall" is replaced with "must" to signify legal obligations;

      • "notwithstanding" is replaced with "despite" or "however";

      • "without prejudice to the generality of" is replaced with "without limiting";

      • "for the avoidance of doubt" is replaced with "to avoid doubt";

      • "Made this 1st day of August 2018" is replaced with "Made on 1 August 2018".

    • Abbreviations are used in legislation where possible (e.g. "fascimile" is replaced with "fax").

    • Roman numerals are replaced with Arabic numerals.

  • Bills tabled in Parliament are accompanied by a more detailed Explanatory Statement ― in appropriate cases, illustrations or descriptions are given on how the proposed new laws/changes to laws would work.

  • After 4 years of experimenting with the different ways of, and experiencing the challenges posed by, writing laws in plain English, the Legislation Division has produced in 2018 an internal guide (of nearly 600 pages) to help law drafters find suitable words/phrases in plain English in Singapore's context to replace legalease, commercialises and complex phrases that have been used in the older legislation.

  • Drafting directives are also regularly issued to our law drafters and editors to update/guide them on the various law drafting changes being implemented under the PLUS Project.

  • SSO was revamped in 2017 to make Singapore written laws more accessible to the varied users of Singapore legislation.

     Click here for AGC’s media statement on 10 July 2017 on the beta launch of the revamped SSO.