Singapore lawyers push back against tying fees to claim amounts

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Singaporean lawyers are concerned about the government’s move to tie fees allowed to civil suit claim amounts.

Around 1,000 lawyers flocked to a town hall held by the Law Society of Singapore on 1 November to voice their concerns to Kasiviswanathan Shanmugam SC, minister of law, and Indranee Rajah, second minister for finance and education, according to the Strait Times.

The Civil Justice Commission (CJC) established by Shanmugam has recommended that the maximum professional fees allowed be S$6,000 for a S$60,000 claim, S$148,000 for a S$10m claim, and S$723,000 for a S$200m claim. The caps will improve access to justice of ordinary citizens, the CJC argues.

The changes are part of a wider civil justice system reform spearheaded by the CJC.

In its review of the legal costs framework of the system, the Ministry of Law said that it aims to introduce “scale legal costs” and emphasise the principle that in general, solicitor and client costs should be equal to “part-and-party” (P&P) costs.

The ministry said that this will give a clear signal to parties that there is a fixed price the moment they decide to resolve the dispute in court and allows the parties to weigh the consequences and make a decision. The caps are also hoped to incentivise solicitors to quickly resolve disputes to obtain the fixed price for less time and effort.