Legal Legacies: The Story of Singapore Law traces the development of Singapore from a state of legal chaos in 1826 to a state of legal stability more than 180 years later.– As part of its 20th anniversary celebrations, the Singapore Academy of Law (“SAL”) has put together an exhibition of photographs, legal documents, books, newspaper cuttings, stamps and artefacts relating to the law to showcase Singapore’s legal heritage.
The exhibition was launched by the Honourable the Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong. Speaking at the launch today, Chief Justice Chan said, “Raffles knew what was needed to make Singapore thrive: the opportunity to trade and work in a free port under an imperial legal order that could guarantee peace and security to all. So today, we can count our blessings that in Singapore we have a peaceful and stable society under good governance, and where there is regard for the law and no hunger. This is actually a great achievement, given the conditions and environment in which Singapore have developed.”
Legal Legacies will be on show for one month at the Supreme Court Atrium from 4 July to 1 August 2008, after which it will be moved to the Subordinate Courts at Havelock Road where it will be on permanent display.
This is the second time that the Singapore Academy of Law is organising a legal heritage exhibition. The first exhibition held in 1995 was a 4–day event. Legal Legacies is a much bigger multi‐dimensional exhibition. Many of the artefacts on display have never been shown before in Singapore. These includes rare legal documents, an award‐winning collection of judicial stamps on court documents, a barrister robe worn by the late Mr E W Barker and various other artefacts and photographs loaned from collectors and law firms.
Besides viewing the exhibits at the atrium of the new Supreme Court, visitors can also register for a heritage tour to the old Supreme Court Building. This is a rare visual treat as they will be able to walk through various facilities which have never been opened to the public before, including the prison cells, the Chief Justice’s private chambers and court rooms. It will also be the last time the public will be able to view these premises before the building is closed for renovations and converted to other use.
Legal Legacies is open from Mondays to Saturdays from 9.30 am to 6.00 pm. Admission is free. Those who wish to go for the heritage tours must preregister online at . To date, close to 4,000 people including schools, community clubs, members of the legal fraternity and government institutions have registered for these tours. To meet the increased demand, the Academy has opened new slots for booking on a first‐come‐first-served basis.
The Singapore Academy of Law is the umbrella membership body of the legal community in Singapore and has more than 7,000 members. They include all advocates and solicitors of the Supreme Court, members of the Singapore Judiciary and Legal Service officers, corporate counsel and faculty members of law schools. The President of the Academy is the Honourable the Chief Justice of Singapore.
The Academy’s activities are driven by three strategic priorities – enhancing legal knowledge, improving efficiency of legal practice through the use of technology and supporting the legal industry. The work in each of these areas is directed towards raising the standards and quality of legal practice and building a strong legal community in Singapore.
Members are kept updated on the latest developments impacting the profession, through a series of continuing legal education programmes which the Academy organises every year. The Academy also supports research into law reform and legal heritage, is the official law reporting agency in Singapore and is actively engaged in the publishing of other legal texts. On the technology front, the Academy is responsible for the development and management of LawNet, an IT portal which provides users instant access to a wide range of legal information and transactional databases.
Under its SingaporeLaw initiative, the Academy actively promotes the use of Singapore’s legal and dispute resolution services to the region. A subsidiary of the Academy, The Singapore Mediation Centre, focuses on providing commercial mediation services and conducts mediation training workshops regionally.