Government Accepts Key Recommendations of the Third Committee on the Supply of Lawyers
17 Aug 2006 Posted in Press releases
- The Government has accepted the key recommendations of The Third Committee on the Supply of Lawyers chaired by the former Attorney-General Chan Sek Keong. The recommendations include:
- Considering setting up a second law school,
- Increasing the intake of students into the NUS Law Faculty,
- Allowing Singaporeans (and PRs) who graduated from recognised overseas law schools with Second Class Lower Division Honours to practise law upon fulfilling certain conditions, and
- Enabling Singapore law firms to recruit outstanding lawyers [lawyers of high calibre] from abroad under a special scheme to practise limited Singapore law so as to enable Singapore law firms to grow and compete regionally.
- Beyond these measures, a new Committee has been appointed by DPM/Minister for Law, to be chaired by Justice V K Rajah to review comprehensively the legal services sector and to propose measures to enhance Singapore’s position as an international centre for the provision of legal services.
The Third Committee on the Supply of Lawyers
- The Third Committee on the Supply of Lawyers (the “Third Committee”) was set up in December 2005 to review the supply of lawyers, as part of periodic reviews to ensure that the supply of lawyers keeps pace with demand. The last review was done in 2001.
- The Committee, in its recent report noted the rising demand for legal talent as well as the attrition of the Singapore Bar in recent years and made the following recommendations:
- Raise the National University of Singapore (NUS) law faculty intake to a maximum of 250 annually beginning from 2007, with the option to reduce the intake if a second law school is set up.
- Consider the feasibility of setting up a second law school in Singapore to produce an additional estimated 90 students.
- Keep the current list of qualifying law schools from the Overseas Scheduled Universities for admission to the Singapore Bar, which may be supplemented by more schools accorded recognition under any Free Trade Agreements or Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreements.
- Extend the recognition for admission to the Singapore Bar to holders of Second Class (Lower Division) Honours law degree or its equivalent from Overseas Scheduled Universities who are Singaporeans or Permanent Residents and who have additional professional experience or qualifications .
- Allow Singapore law firms to hire foreign legal talent who may eventually qualify to practise Singapore law in the areas of finance, banking and corporate work and other areas of legal or regional practice as may be approved by the Attorney-General if they pass a Qualifying Exam.
- A summary of the key recommendations and the composition of the Third Committee are given in Fact Sheet 1- Summary of Key Recommendations and Composition of Third Committee
Government’s Response to the Committee’s Recommendations
The Government has accepted the Committee’s key recommendations.
- Second Law School :The Government agrees with the recommendation of the Third Committee to consider allowing a second law school to be set up to augment the domestic supply of lawyers. A second law school will add diversity and competition in the provision of legal education.
- The Singapore Management University (SMU) had earlier submitted a proposal to the Ministry of Education to set up a law school. The Government has given in-principle approval to SMU to proceed with its proposal. The details of the SMU Law School and its enrolment will be finalised in the next few months between the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Law and SMU.
- Possible Increased intake into NUS Law Faculty : The Third Committee recommended an increase in the intake of the NUS Law Faculty. The extent of the increase will be settled after finalising the details of the SMU Law School.
Overseas Law Graduates
- Additional recognised overseas law schools: With regard to the supply of overseas law graduates, the Government agreed with the Third Committee that the current list of Overseas Scheduled Universities should be maintained. More schools may be added in the future under any Free Trade Agreements or Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreements.
- Allowing Graduates with Second Class Lower Division Honours degrees to practise law: The Government also agreed in-principle with the Committee’s recommendation to allow Singaporean citizens or PRs who graduated from Overseas Scheduled Universities with Second Class (Lower Division) Honours to practice, provided they possess certain relevant work experience or qualifications. To ensure that the quality of our lawyers is maintained, in addition to the requirements (3 years relevant work experience or having the qualification as solicitors of Hong Kong or England & Wales), they will be interviewed by the Board of Legal Education (which will consider factors such as the actual results they obtained and the nature of their work experience). The Board of Legal Education will announce the details in the next two to three months.
High Quality Foreign Lawyers
- Special Scheme for Singapore law firms: The Government has also agreed in-principle to the Committee’s recommendation on a special scheme to allow local law firms, especially those doing regional work involving foreign law and cross border transactions, to hire high-quality foreign lawyers under certain conditions who could eventually be allowed to practise Singapore law in certain prescribed areas like banking, finance, corporate and other areas of legal or regional work. These lawyers must be of good standing in their home countries, and have high academic qualifications in reputable law schools or relevant work experience in Tier 1 and Tier 2 work . Under the scheme, they will first have to work for one year practising offshore work and thereafter they must pass a Qualifying Examination. This special scheme for Singapore law firms to employ high-quality foreign lawyers will allow the blending of the expertise of overseas talent with the skills of our local lawyers to ensure that our law firms are better able to compete in the global marketplace. The scheme will be administered by the Attorney-General’s Chambers.
Committee to Review the Legal Services Sector
- Beyond the issue of the supply of lawyers, DPM Jayakumar has also appointed Justice V K Rajah to chair a committee to undertake a comprehensive review of the entire legal services sector to ensure that Singapore remains at the cutting edge as an international provider of legal services. The composition of the committee is given in Fact Sheet 2- Info on Committee.
- The committee is to make recommendations to enhance Singapore's position as an international centre for the provision of legal services. Some key areas the committee will look into include:
- legal education; identification of core areas of excellence for the legal sector;
- more effective promotion of Singapore as a key provider of legal services in Asia; and
- future directions for the legal profession as a whole.
 This will involve not requiring them to have:
- three years of legal work experience in a local law firm, foreign law firm or AGC; or
- qualification as solicitors of Hong Kong or England & Wales, and
- completed and passed the Diploma in Singapore Law course (conducted by NUS) and the Practical Law Course (conducted by the Board of Legal Education).
Tier 1 and Tier 2 banking, finance and corporate work had been defined in the 1999 Report of the Legal Services Review Committee as follows:
- "Tier 1" legal software was described as the legal software required for "cutting edge" financial products and other strategic financial products as follows: products developed in connection with (i) project finance of infrastructure such as power, roads, water and telecommunications; (ii) international capital markets; (iii) asset securitisation; and (iv) structured finance including leasing and acquisitions (collectively referred to as "tier 1 financial products").
- "Tier 2" legal software was described as the legal software required for the conventional financial services in (i) the issue and trading of capital market instruments, including equities, bonds, warrants, medium term note programmes, fund management products, currency and interest rate swaps, futures and derivatives; (ii) onshore and offshore financing, such as syndicated and multi-currency loans; (iii) mergers and acquisitions, takeovers and buy-outs; (iv) related regulatory services; and (v) Singapore law opinions relating to tier 1 financial products.
Last updated on 24 Nov 2012