7 May 2014 Posted in Press releases
The Committee for Family Justice is inviting views from the public on the Committee’s key interim recommendations to reform the family justice system.
The Committee for Family Justice was set up in early 2013 to study how the family justice system can be strengthened. The Committee has submitted its interim recommendations to solicit feedback from the public. These are outlined in the Public Consultation Paper attached as Annex.
- The Committee’s key interim recommendations include:
- Empowering community touch points such as Family Service Centres, schools, hospitals, charities, MPs and lawyers to direct families to the appropriate providers of solutions for their issues, both pre- and post-court.
- Enhancing social support service providers and integrating them with the family courts system. This includes the establishment of Specialist Agencies in key community nodes across Singapore that will provide a range of services to address issues arising from divorce. These Specialist Agencies will be additional to the three existing ones for dealing with Family Violence. They will provide services such as information and non-legal advice, case management by social workers, counselling and family dispute management.
- Creating a comprehensive specialist family court structure known as the Family Justice Courts through a new Family Justice Act. This will introduce enhanced court management processes that will empower the court to adjudicate and resolve family disputes more effectively, and lessen the trauma of the divorce process. Changes will also be made to provide greater assistance to the high numbers of litigants who act in person within the family court.
- Placing more emphasis on addressing the interests of children in divorces. The proposed measures include: (a) expanding the mandate of the existing Counselling and Psychological Servicers of the State Courts, which currently provides a voice to the child, to better represent the child; (b) appointing Child Representatives in appropriate court proceedings to act as their advocate; and (c) involving social service professionals in court proceedings to ensure that the best interests of the child are promoted.
About the Committee for Family Justice
- At the Opening of Legal Year 2013, the Honourable Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon announced the establishment of an inter-agency committee to study and recommend possible reforms to the family justice system to better serve the needs of families in distress.
- Senior Minister of State for Law and Education Ms Indranee Rajah SC and Judge of Appeal Justice V K Rajah were appointed by the Minister for Law to chair the Committee for Family Justice. Members of the Committee and its Subcommittees come from a range of backgrounds involved in family justice, including the Ministry of Law, the Ministry of Social and Family Development, the Supreme Court, the State Courts, social services, and the legal fraternity. Please see Appendix A of the Public Consultation Paper for the list of committee members.
- The Committee’s objective is to establish a problem-solving family justice system that will:
- Protect and support the family as the basic unit of our society;
- Ensure that the interests of the child are protected;
- Effectively and fairly resolve family conflicts;
- Reduce the emotional burden, time and cost of resolving family disputes; and
- Increase access to family justice for all.
- The Committee and its Subcommittees have held wide-ranging and comprehensive discussions, and consulted extensively with stakeholders in the family justice ecosystem.
- Senior Minister of State for Law and Education Ms Indranee Rajah SC said, “Family disputes often have a high emotional cost, and a painful and lasting impact on spouses and children. The aim of this review is to revamp the family justice system not only in terms of structures and institutions but also to reduce acrimony, create a more supportive environment for troubled families, and above all to ensure that the best interests of the child are given primacy and priority”.
- Judge of Appeal Justice V K Rajah added “Aside from recasting the future structure of the Family Court, the Committee is committed to transform the entire family justice landscape in Singapore. These changes will not be the last word on this critical area of the landscape. It is envisaged that periodical reviews will respond to the need for further fine tuning and or reforms”.
- Members of the public are invited to share their views with the Committee. The consultation period is from 7 May 2014 to 7 June 2014. The Public Consultation Paper is available here (0.3MB) and www.reach.gov.sg. Views and suggestions may be submitted in electronic form or hard copy form to:
Committee for Family Justice
c/o Legal Policy Division, Ministry of Law
100 High Street
#08-02, The Treasury
Fax: 6332 8842
Last updated on 16 Jun 2014