Amongst the initiatives being undertaken to promote a better understanding of the legal process in Singapore by the public is the move to encourage the use of plain-English terms in court proceedings.
The Law Reform Committee of the Singapore Academy of Law ("The Academy) has prepared and released a plain English guide to Latin expressions. The guide, prepared with contributions from members of the Judiciary, the Attorney-General's Chambers, the Faculty of Law at the National University of Singapore and the Law Society of Singapore, is a compilation of the Latin terms which are commonly used in court proceedings together with the corresponding plain English translations. Where it has not been possible to find a plain English equivalent of the Latin word or phrase, an explanation of its meaning has been provided.
When preparing this guide, the Committee had in mind that encouraging the use of plain English in place of Latin did not necessary mean getting rid of familiar Latin expressions such as "plaintiff". The guide does not include Latin phrases that the Committee felt that had acquired technical legal meetings that could not be easily translated to plain English.
Welcoming the publication of this guide, Mr Aqbal Singh, a litigation lawyerm was hopeful that "the guide will encourage lawyers and non-lawyers alike to use plain-English in place of Latin expressions".
Ms Serene Wee, Director of the Academy said, "The Academy, in its efforts to try and help the legal process in Singapore become more understandable to the public, is releasing the guide to explore effective plain English solutions. In addition, the Academy is also conducting "Drafting in Plain English" workshops in February 2004 to aid litigators and draftsmen in writing in plain language for even the most complex legislation".
The guide is free and can be downloaded from this website.
The Singapore Academy of Law was established by the Singapore Academy of Act (Cap. 294A) in 1988. The President of the Academy is the Honourable the Chief Justice Yong Pung How.
The Law Reform Committee of the Academy is chaired by Justice Judit Prakash and comprises members drawn from the legal fraternity. The Law Reform Committee makes recommendations to the authorities on the need for legislation in any particular area or subject of the law. In addition, the Committee reviews any legislation before Parliament and makes recommendations for amendments to legislation (if any) and for carrying out law reform.
Issued by the Singapore Academy of Law on 12 January 2004. Should representatives from the media require further information, please contact Sherina Chan at Tel: 6332 0078 or email