Revamped Singapore Statutes Online website makes local laws easier to understand

SINGAPORE - As part of efforts to make local laws easier to understand, the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) has revamped its Singapore Statutes Online website, the official online repository for the country's legislation.

The revamp focused on what can be done to make Singapore's written laws in the online space more accessible to different users, which includes parliamentarians, legal professionals, academia, as well as the public and business sectors.

The Singapore Statutes Online website, maintained by the national law drafting office within the AGC, offers free access to all of Singapore's legislation in a single location.

Under the Plain Laws Understandable by Singaporeans (Plus) project, which was announced about four years ago, two online public surveys were conducted by the AGC in November 2013 and September 2016, with the second survey giving users a say in the design and features of the new website.

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The AGC has since rolled out a beta version of its new Singapore Statutes Online website at https://sso.agc.gov.sg to give users time to adjust, as well as to also obtain feedback on its features. The new website will include more search facilities, prominent displays to aid navigation, and features that facilitate access through mobile devices.

Chief Legislative Counsel in the AGC, Mrs Owi Beng Ki, said the website revamp is part of efforts in "ensuring that our laws remain understandable and conveniently accessible".

She added that one of the biggest challenges was "figuring how to present the complex information on the website logically and still intuitively enough for the very varied users".

As part of its Plus initiatives, the AGC has been progressively implementing changes in law drafting since 2014. This includes writing in shorter sentences and simpler English, such as using "must" instead of "shall" to signify mandatory obligations, adopting gender-neutral terms, and breaking down provisions into parts to aid readers.