Singapore Update: Training Pro Bono Lawyers for Cross-border Litigation

November 13, 2016
Category: Uncategorized

Justice Without Borders and its co-hosts recently held the 2nd annual Continuing Professional Development workshop on cross-border civil litigation for migrant worker clients. Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) again generously sponsored the Workshop, with HSF’s own Fatim Jumabhoy welcoming the crowd.

The Workshop sought to introduce our audience of 34 attendees, including 22 locally qualified lawyers, to the wide variety of private law issues that migrant workers encounter in Singapore and continue to face upon their return home. Participants received a grounding in the key administrative and civil law mechanisms available to workers, along with developments to relevant legislation that have occurred in the past year.

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Panelists discuss Singapore’s legal remedies for migrant workers. (L to R: June Lim, Eden Law Corporation; Tan Fang Qun Ministry of Manpower; Doug MacLean, JWB; and Sarita Misir, Duane Morris & Selvam LLP)

Event speakers came from diverse professional backgrounds, including academia, private practice, civil service and front-line non-governmental organisations. Together, the speakers provided a broad range of perspectives on civil remedies and civil compensation for migrant workers, giving participants a comprehensive understanding of some of the common circumstances that migrant workers encounter.

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Participants prepare and present their legal analysis of their hypothetical case file.

Participants also undertook hands-on activities, working together to assess a hypothetical client matter, based on fact patterns drawn from actual cases. Using JWB’s Practitioner’s Manual for Migrant Workers as a reference, the participants identified potential legal claims, discussed evidence collection and some of the practical logistical hurdles of cross-border litigation.

Representatives from NGOs introduce the pro bono opportunities available at their organisations. (L to R: Gwee Min-Yi, TWC2; Henneke Brink, HOME; Nizam Amlan, FAST Legal Clinic; and Rachel Hines, JWB)
Representatives from NGOs introduce the pro bono opportunities available at their organisations. (L to R: Gwee Min-Yi, TWC2; Henneke Brink, HOME; Nizam Amlan, FAST Legal Clinic; and Rachel Hines, JWB)

The Workshop closed with a panel introducing five local non-governmental organisations and the opportunities they have for lawyers interested in pro bono service.  Last year’s panel led to several lawyers taking on cases from these organisations, and this year’s audience seemed similarly receptive to the panelists’ presentations.

Ultimately, the Workshop was a first step in developing more pro bono capacity in Singapore for migrant workers. However, it was encouraging to see a large percentage of locally qualified lawyers, and a room full of new faces who may ultimately contribute their time and expertise. JWB will be engaging these lawyers as we develop additional cases, and we look forward to sharing the outcomes from this Workshop.

The Workshop was co-hosted by the Law Society of Singapore, Beacon Law Corporation, and Professor Jaclyn Neo of the National University of Singapore.

Our sincere appreciation again to Herbert Smith Freehills for their generous support of our 2nd annual workshop. This event would not have been a success without them!