Singapore, 9 January 2017 – Lawyers who specialise in building and construction law can now apply to have their skills and knowledge recognised through a new accreditation scheme introduced by the Singapore Academy of Law (“SAL”). This recognition will also enable members of the public to identify lawyers who have proven themselves in this area of practice.
The first batch of accredited specialists for building and construction law will be announced in January 2018 and SAL has plans to extend the scheme to other areas of law in future.
The launch of the Specialist Accreditation Scheme (专家鉴定制度) was announced by Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon at the Opening of the Legal Year today.
CJ Menon said that in the long run, a specialist accreditation scheme will improve the quality of Singapore’s legal services and the standard of the Bar in general, without disadvantaging those who choose to remain non-accredited. “Participation in the scheme will be entirely voluntary and will not be exclusionary. Thus, non-accredited lawyers will continue to be able to practice in their field, in the same way that those who are not appointed Senior Counsel are nonetheless able to practise as advocates. But accreditation will function as a mark of recognition that a particular lawyer in fact has particular skills and expertise.”
SAL’s Specialist Accreditation Scheme adopts a two-tier system: a lower tier (Accredited Specialist) for younger legal practitioners and an upper tier (Senior Accredited Specialist) for more experienced legal practitioners. Candidates will be assessed by a selection panel comprising a mix of judges, legal practitioners and industry professionals based on:
- their substantial involvement in the practice of building and construction law;
- accumulation of public and private Continuing Professional Development points in this area of practice;
- examination results (for Accredited Specialist candidates only, Senior Accredited Specialist candidates are exempted from this requirement);
- a selection panel interview;
- references from fellow legal practitioners; and
- disciplinary record.
Successful candidates will be designated the title “Acc. Spec. (Building & Construction), Singapore Academy of Law” or “Snr. Acc. Spec. (Building & Construction, Singapore Academy of Law” to acknowledge their expertise in building and construction law. These titles may be used in their legal practice’s marketing collaterals. The specialist accreditation will also need to be renewed every two years to ensure that the highest standards are maintained.
The scheme is expected to benefit more than 900 legal practitioners who practise building and construction law. “Legal practitioners play an important role in the construction industry, from front end drafting and advice to dispute resolution,” said Mr Christopher Chuah (蔡子建先生) (Partner and Head of the Infrastructure, Construction & Engineering Practice at WongPartnership LLP). “The expected upswing in local, regional and global construction activity in the next four to five years bodes well for building and construction legal practitioners. There is a group of counsel and legal advisors at the apex of this area of work internationally and Singapore should likewise aim to have highly skilled legal practitioners at this level. Legal practitioners in the US, EU, Canada and Australia who have attained proficiency in building and construction law may seek recognition for his or her expertise under schemes in their respective jurisdictions. The introduction of a similar scheme in Singapore will incentivise both our senior and younger legal practitioners to hone their skills and knowledge in this area of practice and aspire to achieve excellence in this field.”
SAL is a promotion and development agency for Singapore’s legal industry, with the vision of making Singapore the legal hub of Asia.
SAL aims to drive legal excellence through developing thought leadership, world class infrastructure and legal solutions. Its work focuses on building up the intellectual capital of the legal profession by enhancing legal knowledge, raising the international profile of Singapore law, promoting Singapore as a centre for dispute resolution and improving the standards and efficiency of legal practice through continuing professional development and the use of technology.
As a body established by statute, SAL also undertakes statutory functions such as stakeholding services, appointment of Senior Counsel, Commissioners for Oaths and Notaries Public.
SAL is headed by The Honourable the Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon. SAL has over 12,000 members comprising members of the Bench, the Bar, Legal Service Officers, corporate counsel, legal academics and foreign lawyers.
For more information about the Specialist Accreditation Scheme:
For quotations regarding the views of legal practitioners in Singapore: