21 Jun 2012, 5.15PM
The Community Justice Centre (CJC), to be located at the Subordinate Courts, will begin operations from Q4 2012. The centre will provide a one-stop hub for unrepresented litigants requiring support at zero cost. The move is in response to the increasing number of defendants and respondents without legal representation over the past three years.
According to the TODAY article
, over 96% of applicants and more than 99% of respondents for maintenance and personal protection orders were unrepresented, while 80% of divorce cases involved defendants without legal representation. At the Criminal Courts, more than one-third of accused persons were unrepresented during pre-trial stages, as with 50% of the defendants in the Community Court.
Patron of the CJC, Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong, said that the centre will help to simplify court processes so that Litigants-in Person (LIPs) will not be disadvantaged in not being able to participate effectively in court proceedings. He added that some of these LIPs “are victims of poverty, exacerbated by language barriers and limited means”.
Manned by volunteers, the centre will also provide moral support under its Lay Assistance Scheme, and assist on practical issues such as looking for temporary housing.
The CJC is a joint community partnership between the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS), Ministry of Law (MinLaw), Subordinate Courts, Tan Chin Tuan Foundation and The Law Society of Singapore. The Tan Chin Tuan foundation will be donating S$250,000 annually as a seed fund for the first three years.
What are your views on this initiative?