Singapore Academy of Law
|Formed||November 1, 1988|
|Headquarters||1 Supreme Court Lane Singapore 178879|
The Singapore Academy of Law (Abbreviation: the Academy; Chinese: 新加坡法律协会) is a statutory body in Singapore. The Academy is the promotion and development agency for Singapore’s legal industry. Its mandate includes building up the intellectual capital of the legal profession, promoting Singapore as a centre for dispute resolution and improving the efficiency of legal practice through technology.
It is led by a Senate comprising the Chief Justice, the Attorney-General, the Supreme Court Bench and key leaders of the various branches of the legal profession. It has more than 10,000 members, comprising the Bench, all persons who are called as advocates and solicitors of the Supreme Court (i.e. the Bar), or who are appointed as Legal Service Officers, corporate counsel, faculty members of the two local law schools (i.e. the National University of Singapore and the Singapore Management University) and foreign lawyers in Singapore.
The Academy celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2013. In the course of the last two and a half decades, the Academy has grown from a fledgling membership organization to a fully self-funded statutory body and a major institution in the Singapore legal landscape.
The Singapore Academy of Law Act was created by an Act of Parliament on 1 November 1988, and had its City Hall premises officially opened by former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew. With the Singapore Academy of Law (Amendment) Act passed in 1995, Academy functions were expanded to include development of legal infrastructure and services.
In 2007, the Academy was restructured into three legal clusters and a corporate services cluster to serve as core mandates for its areas of work. The legal clusters consisted Legal Knowledge, Legal Technology and Legal Industry, and were directed towards raising the standard and quality of legal practice and building a strong and dynamic legal community in Singapore.
The Academy is governed by the Senate which is headed by the Honourable the Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon as President. The Vice-Presidents of the Academy are the Honourable Attorney-General V. K. Rajah, SC; the Honourable Judge of Appeal Justice Chao Hick Tin; the Honourable Judge of Appeal Justice Andrew Phang Boon Leong; President of the Law Society of Singapore, Mr Lok Vi Ming, SC; Dean of the Faculty of Law of the National University of Singapore, Professor Simon Chesterman; and Dean of the School of Law of Singapore Management University, Professor Yeo Tiong Min, SC (honoris causa).
The Senate also comprises the High Court Judges, the Solicitor-General, academia and the practising profession. The Chief Executive Singapore Academy of Law is Ms Serene Wee.
The Academy’s Executive Committee oversees major decision making and provides strategic direction for the development of the Academy’s role in the Singapore legal industry. The Executive Committee comprises 17 members from both the judiciary and the private sector.
Work of the Academy
The Academy’s work as a promotion and development agency is underpinned by four strategic thrusts:
(1) Public-Private Sector Partnerships in the Development of Strategic Legal Infrastructure;
(2) Promotion of Thought Leadership in Legal Issues, Jurisprudence and Learning;
(3) Promotion of Excellence in Legal Practice; and
(4) Promotion of Confidence in the Legal Sector
The Legal Knowledge Cluster of the Academy undertakes the following functions:
- Publishing works on developments in local laws and disseminating these works regionally and internationally
- Providing a suite of programmes for continuing legal education and studies on legal issues that are both of contemporary and long-term importance to the legal industry
- Reporting on judgments emanating from the High Court and the Court of Appeal
- Initiating law reform proposals to further the efficacy of the laws of Singapore
- Preserving and promoting awareness of Singapore’s legal heritage
The Legal Industry Cluster of the Academy undertakes the following functions:
- Mapping the strategic direction of the Academy and overseeing the implementation and review of the Academy’s strategic plans
- Promoting the international profile of Singapore law and Singapore as a legal solutions hub
- Developing Singapore as a centre for dispute resolution, with the Singapore Mediation Centre (“SMC”) in particular as a regional centre for mediation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution services
- Nurturing camaraderie and esprit de corps amongst Academy members by facilitating discussion of professional affairs issues about the law, administration of justice and legal profession and by creating networking opportunities
- Providing recognition and accreditation of excellence through the appointment of Senior Counsel and grant of scholarships and other awards.
- Appointing Commissioners for Oaths and Notaries Public and rendering authentication services for the signatures of Notaries Public.
The Legal Technology Cluster of the Academy undertakes the following functions:
- To improve the efficiency of legal practice through the use of technology
- To keep current with advances in information technology and infrastructure relevant to the legal industry
LawNet is a subscription-based service that provides subscribers with access to legal research and other supporting services. Besides research, services currently supported are eLitigation for Litigation, as well as Intereq and PSS-Inlis for property related transactions.
Singapore Mediation Centre
The Singapore Mediation Centre (“SMC”) is a company limited by the guarantee of the Academy. SMC is supported by the Singapore judiciary and provides Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) services such as mediation and adjudication, and ADR training.
Since its inception in 1997, SMC has evolved into an accreditation body with distinguished panels of mediators, adjudicators and neutral evaluators. In addition, it promotes Singapore as a centre for mediation and dispute resolution in Asia. SMC provides training in the fields of negotiation, mediation and conflict management in Singapore and the region.
- 1988 – The Singapore Academy of Law (“SAL”) Act is passed by Parliament. LawNet is first incepted as a dial up network access provider.
- 1989 – The SAL Restaurant is opened, serving local and Western fare. Members were to be suitably dressed when dining there.
- 1990 – Former Prime Minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew officiates the opening of the Academy premises at City Hall.
- 1995 – The Academy’s functions expand to include development of legal infrastructure and services in Singapore.
- 1996 – The appointment of Commissioners for Oaths, the appointment of Notaries Public and legislation of documents for international use was transferred from the Attorney-General’s Chambers to the Academy.
- 1997 – Launch of Singapore Mediation Centre (“SMC”) by former Chief Justice Yong Pung How. Commencement of the Stakeholding service for residential and commercial properties in Singapore.
- 2000 – Electronic Filing System is introduced in conjunction with LawNet’s 10th anniversary.
- 2005 – Relocation of premises to the new Supreme Court building. SAL Restaurant closed and replaced by the Academy Bistro.
- 2006 – Former Chief Justice Yong Pung How retires as President of the Academy and is replaced by Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong.
- 2007 – SAL restructures into Legal Knowledge, Legal Technology and Legal Industry. The Academy’s publishing division, Academy Publishing, was officially launched by Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong. LawNet 2, a revamped LawNet portal, was launched with more user-friendly features and email alerts.
- 2008 – Launch of Singapore Law Watch, a daily legal news service for the legal community and public.
- 2012 – Former Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong retires as President of the Academy. He is succeeded by Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, who takes over as President of the Academy.
- 2013 – The Academy celebrates its 25th anniversary with the aim to raise public awareness about legal rights.
Links to Community
The Academy has designated the Yellow Ribbon Fund as the sole beneficiary of its charity efforts since 2011.
- "Republic of Singapore: Singapore Academy of Law Act 1988". Attorney General's Chambers. Retrieved 30 September 2014.
- "Singapore Law: Singapore Mediation Centre". Singapore Academy of Law. Retrieved 4 March 2014.