The Singapore Academy of Law will set up a $5 million Legal Development Fund over a period of five years starting from 2001, to develop the legal profession in areas of law that are set to assume considerable importance. These new areas of law include biotechnology law, information technology law, World Trade Organisation and competition laws.
2 The funds set aside will be used:
To bring in visiting professors, leading practitioners, and international consultants in the new areas of law and practice;
To provide the seed money for conferences, symposiums, seminars and publications in the new areas of law and practice;
To initiate or fund law reform studies and policy review of the new areas of law;
To improve legal practice in existing areas of practice and to develop legal practice in the new areas of law; and
To fund scholarships and financial assistance schemes to young lawyers to pursue postgraduate studies in new areas of law.
3 Ms Serene Wee, Director of the Singapore Academy of Law, said that: "We will work closely with the NUS (National University of Singapore) law faculty and leading law schools overseas to identify and invite to Singapore legal luminaries in the emerging areas of law and practice, to enable the legal profession in Singapore to learn under the top legal minds. This is to keep pace with the government’s push towards a knowledge economy."
4 In recent years, the Academy (together with the NUS law faculty and the Bar) has begun to assume a greater role in preparing the profession for new areas of practice as time-honoured legal principles evolve and new opportunities emerge in the world of e-commerce and life sciences.
5 Over the past year between 2000 and 2001, the Singapore Academy of Law embarked on several initiatives to raise knowledge and awareness of the legal profession in new areas of law. In late 2000, the Academy appointed a think-tank, the TLDG (Technology Law Development Group) under the chairmanship of Judicial Commissioner Lee Seiu Kin, to explore issues relating to information technology and e-commerce and highlight the lacunae in the law.
The think-tank comprises 30 experts from the IT, legal, financial and government sectors and is supported by a secretariat of SAL and Legal Service officers.
6 The Academy also organised a seminar on Life Sciences on 11 November 2000 with speakers from the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology.
7 A Technology Law Immersion Programme which introduced participants to basic IT knowledge and legal issues arising from the use of IT, was held from April to July 2001. The Singapore Academy of Law has also recently organised a joint course with the National University of Singapore Law Faculty on ‘Copyright in the Technological Age: International and Comparative Perspective’ for the legal profession. The speakers for the course, Professor Robert Gorman of University of Pennsylvania and Professor Gerald Dworkin of University of London, are leading authorities in Intellectual Property law from American and English jurisdictions respectively.
8 The Singapore Academy of Law is a body created by the Singapore Academy of Law Act (Cap.294A). The governing body of the Academy is the Senate, presided over by the Honourable the Chief Justice of Singapore.