Judicial college draws judges from near and far

The SJC, which was established in January last year, was the brainchild of CJ Menon.
The SJC, which was established in January last year, was the brainchild of CJ Menon.

In just over a year since its inception, the Singapore Judicial College (SJC) has drawn as much attention from abroad as it has locally.

Last year, 200 or so judges and judicial officers from Singapore attended SJC's programmes.

Meanwhile, more than 250 foreign judges and officials, from more than 40 countries, attended at least one of the college's courses.

The outreach to foreign judicial fraternities continued this year. In January and February, the SJC trained 75 judges from abroad, including Guangdong and Oman.

Established on Jan 5 last year, the SJC is the new star in Singapore's judicial landscape.

Its core mission is to provide continual professional training for judges and judicial officers of the Supreme Court, Family Justice Courts and State Courts.

The SJC comprises a local wing, an international wing and an empirical judicial research initiative.

It is the brainchild of Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, who said at the opening of the legal year in 2015: "Our judges have been at the core of our legal development and they must continue to lead this effort in changing times.

"It is therefore imperative not only that the right people are appointed, but also that they are provided with ample opportunities for continuing education and development.

"When I took office a little over two years ago, one of my early aspirations was to institutionalise and pull together the various judicial education programmes that had been discretely developed."

On the international front, the SJC aims to engage judiciary partners from abroad, to share know-how and build bridges with them.

In March , the SJC signed a emorandum of understanding with the Thailand Judicial Training Institute. This is a first, allowing the Singaporean and Thai fraternities to advance judicial education between the two institutions.

Both sides have extended invitations to their respective judges to attend judicial training programmes scheduled for this year.

The SJC also made presentations to the members of the Omani and Solomon Islands judiciaries - in January this year and October last year respectively - on the implementation of eFiling in Singapore.

The invitations to make the presentations came after an Omani judge and the Chief Justice of the Solomon Islands, Sir Albert Palmer, attended a court technology workshop in Singapore in July last year and were impressed by it.

The SJC became a memberof the Israel-based International Organisation for Judicial Training and the International Consortium for Court Excellence in 2015.

It is now part of an international network, giving it a platform to share best practices, and extend training and development opportunities internationally.

Locally, more than 1,000 judicial training places were taken up cumulatively by judges and judicial officers in SJC's first year, making that an average of five programmes attended each.

The SJC surpasses any previous effort to prepare law professionals here for a judicial career.

One particular highlight of the SJC's achievements in its first year was the introduction of a four-day judiciary-wide induction programme for newly-appointed judicial commissioners and officers.

The firstsuch programme was held in October last year, over and above existing induction programmes held by the respective courts.

Judicial Commissioner Chua Lee Ming said the SJC has helped him to cope better with the changing role of judges, and take on new judicial responsibilities as well.

He said: "The SJC has been established to provide continuing judicial education to better equip our judges to respond to the evolving role of judges.

"SJC's programmes are comprehensive, and I am grateful for such holistic training."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 09, 2016, with the headline 'Judicial college draws judges from near and far'. Print Edition | Subscribe