No win, no pay for certain cases: Law Ministry seeks feedback on proposed conditional fee agreements

The agreements will be considered for international and domestic arbitration proceedings, including mediation, as well as certain prescribed proceedings in the Singapore International Commercial Court.
The agreements will be considered for international and domestic arbitration proceedings, including mediation, as well as certain prescribed proceedings in the Singapore International Commercial Court.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - The Ministry of Law (MinLaw) is seeking public feedback on the proposed Conditional Fee Agreements, an additional payment option where a lawyer is paid only when the claim is successful.

The agreements will be considered for international and domestic arbitration proceedings, including mediation, as well as certain prescribed proceedings in the Singapore International Commercial Court.

The move is in line with Singapore's objectives to be a leading international legal hub, said MinLaw on Tuesday (Aug 27).

Payment under the fee agreements may include an "uplift" or "success" fee, in addition to the lawyer's standard legal fees.

Existing traditional payment methods will continue to be in place alongside the proposed agreements, said MinLaw. These methods involve fixed fees or arrangements where clients are billed by the hour.

Singapore law currently prohibits conditional fee agreements.

"The prohibitions stem from our common law originally derived from England and Wales, to protect vulnerable litigants, and to guard against a potential conflict of interest for lawyers in relation to their duty to their clients, and to the Court," said MinLaw in a statement.

But the prohibitions against conditional fee agreements have been removed in England and Wales since 1990. Several other countries such as Australia, the United States and China allow such agreements in various forms.

 

MinLaw said a study will also be conducted on whether conditional fee agreements will promote access to justice for categories of proceedings that are presently not being considered under the proposed framework.

The ministry said amendments to the Civil Law would be required to legalise the use of conditional fee agreements in prescribed categories of dispute resolution proceedings.

Amendments to the law will also provide safeguards against misuse of such fee agreements.

Interested parties may view the public consultation paper online.

The public consultation exercise will run from Aug 27 till Oct 8, 2019.

The public may submit feedback in electronic or hard copy form via either of the following:

Ministry of Law

Policy Advisory Division

100 High Street,#08-02 The Treasury, Singapore 179464.

Fax: 6332 8842

E-mail: MLAW_CFA_Consultation@mlaw.gov.sg (preferred mode)