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The ST Guide To... Online legal resources

Quick, simple advice on how to tackle common legal issues

These sites can be your first stop, pointing the way and providing support if you need to consult a lawyer

The idea of consulting a lawyer might be daunting to some who worry about the cost of legal fees and the density of legal jargon.

If you find yourself in need of legal advice and guidance, sometimes the first stop for research can be the Web, where there is a wealth of free resources to help guide you through the legal jungle.

Online resources for legal advice can be divided into public- and private-sector sites.

Here is a guide to some of the sites that could be useful if you have legal questions.

Do note, however, that the sources listed here are intended as a starting point guide only. They are not a replacement for consulting a lawyer should the need, based on the nature of the case, arise.

THE COMMUNITY JUSTICE CENTRE (CJC)

www.cjc.org.sg

If it is your first time dealing with a lawsuit or a court case, this is a good stop. This independent charity offers a wide range of aid, including referrals to legal services agencies and legal information.

CJC is based in the State Courts and aims to ensure that litigants in person (LIPs) have access to justice through community partnership.

Its website states: "As an integrated one-stop hub, CJC aims to provide a wide range of support services for the LIPs and their family members. It will provide free practical and emotional support to LIPs in need as well as free legal advice at the legal clinics.

"Through the support of CJC, the LIPs should be able to better present their case, follow proceedings and understand judicial rulings or pronouncements in their respective cases."

The website lists programmes and support services available to help people who need legal aid for cases that include civil claims of less than $60,000, as well as divorce and criminal cases.

A State Courts spokesman noted that those who wish to find out more about the State Courts' processes and procedures for resolving disputes can refer to the State Courts site at www.statecourts.gov.sg

There are application forms for various matters and answers to frequently asked questions, as well as resources such as brochures and a glossary of legal terms translated from English to other languages.

You can also download the Justice@State Courts mobile app from Google Play or the App Store to access the relevant information using mobile devices.

Visit the State Courts' YouTube channel (http://str.sg/4wCT) for informational videos about key processes, and check out the Facebook page (http://str.sg/4wCq) for updates on their programmes.

For further assistance, visit CJC's Help Services at Level 1 of the State Courts Building.

THE SUPREME COURT

http://str.sg/4wCc

If you do not know where to start, this is a quick and to-the-point primer about where to go for legal help and various fees for legal services.

THE LAW SOCIETY

http://str.sg/4wCG

The Law Society offers a downloadable booklet titled Know The Law (http://str.sg/4wCp). This includes information about most of the common legal issues.

The booklet helps people deal with common legal problems concerning civil matters, family issues and criminal proceedings among other things. Before making an appointment to see a lawyer, you might find it useful to refer to this booklet, which is written in layman's terms for easy understanding.

You can also check out the Pamphlet Of Rights posted by the Society at http://str.sg/4wCN, which provides basic information in a condensed and simple-to-understand form.

The pamphlet covers the relevant rights that a person has when being questioned by the police and the process that he or she should expect during investigations.

The society's website helpfully adds that if the information in the brochure is insufficient, Singaporeans and permanent residents can call the society to make an appointment for free basic legal advice at its Community Legal Clinics.

The clinics are run from Mondays to Thursdays (excluding public holidays and eves of public holidays).  

At the legal clinics, you can talk to a lawyer on a one-to-one basis for 20 minutes.  But the society reserves the right to turn down requests for appointments by applicants who fail to meet the criteria for receiving this free legal advice.

WEBSITE

legalclinics.sg

This website provides a listing of all free legal clinics in Singapore, including the Community Legal Clinics.

LEGAL HELP

www.legalhelp.com.sg

This is an online collation of questions and answers relating to legal issues. If you need legal help, you can submit questions here to members of the legal fraternity. Members of the public also share their legal experiences here, and you can read their accounts for guidance.

The website is supported by a network of local lawyers who have volunteered to contribute their time and effort to help those in need.

SINGAPORE LEGAL ADVICE

singaporelegaladvice.com

This website connects individuals and small businesses according to their legal needs. It also has a Facebook page (http://str.sg/4wCx).

Users can read about common legal issues from the comprehensive database of articles. Where needed, the site also helps users to contact relevant lawyers and get quotations for advice on legal matters.

The website - which started out as a blog in 2012 by then Singapore Management University law undergraduate Chan Yuk Lun - now gets more than 60,000 unique visitors a month.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 02, 2016, with the headline 'Quick, simple advice on how to tackle common legal issues'. Print Edition | Subscribe