OPENING OF THE LEGAL YEAR | MASS CALL | INTERNATIONAL AGREEMENTS | INAUGURAL LASCO AWARD
OPENING OF THE LEGAL YEAR
In 2010, the Opening of the Legal Year ceremony took place on 9 January at the Supreme Court Auditorium. During the ceremony, Attorney-General Professor Walter Woon and the President of the Law Society, Mr Michael Hwang SC, renewed their pledges of support, on behalf of the Attorney-General’s Chambers and the practicing Bar respectively, to uphold the rule of law and the administration of justice.
In his address, the Attorney-General discussed the capabilities and resources needed to cope with the demands of the Legal Service in the future. He noted that the Legal Service had been able to recruit excellent young officers, including those with specialist experience who could augment its capabilities to handle complex cases. Moving forward, with the launch of the Centre for International Law, he touched on the need to build up international law expertise in the long term.
The President of the Law Society, Mr Michael Hwang SC, delivered the next address and outlined the Law Society’s plans to engage members’ views more actively so that it could represent the needs of a diversity of practices and firms. Other plans for 2010 included a review of all Law Society Practice Directions and Updates, and an enlargement of the scope of the pro bono programme to offer legal assistance to more segments of the public.
He went further to discuss the internationalisation of the Singapore Bar and the Law Society’s efforts to increase global awareness of Singapore’s legal expertise. This included its participation in international law events, dialogues and conferences.
In his response, Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong applauded the Law Society’s efforts to raise the global profile of the Singapore Bar and noted that many improvements introduced to the judicial system were the fruit of international interactions. However, the administration of justice was local and must be appropriate to local circumstances. In the past decade, Singapore had made progress in promoting itself as a venue for international arbitration and its law as the law of choice for international commercial contracts.
The Chief Justice expressed his confidence in the courts’ ability to continue attracting high-quality talent and sustaining, or even surpassing, the current level of performance and productivity in judicial work. While court procedures would continue to be simplified and streamlined, he encouraged further moves to divert disputes away from the courts through mediation, membership voting or other simpler, less expensive and faster ways to achieve resolution.
To cope with increasing volumes of work, the Chief Justice laid out future plans to simplify or reduce interlocutory processes that delayed trials and to increase the jurisdiction and powers of the Subordinate Courts to reduce the caseload in the Supreme Court. In addition to the on-going efforts to fine-tune the opt-in framework for electronic discovery, there were plans to consider adopting new media to enhance the administration of justice.
In closing, the Chief Justice announced the appointment of four Senior Counsel and declared the new legal year open.