On 4 April 1956, the Legal Aid and Advice Bill was introduced in the Legislative Assembly. The aim of the Bill was “to make legal aid and advice in the Colony more readily available to persons of limited means”. LAB is now governed by the Legal Aid and Advice Act (Cap 160).
LAB was set up on 1 July 1958 as a department under the Ministry of Labour and Welfare. It was housed at the former Ministry of Labour Building at Havelock Road. With that, Singapore became the first country in South East Asia to have a legal aid scheme.
In 1964, LAB was placed under the Ministry of Social Affairs and subsequently became a department of the Ministry of Law in 1984, where it remains to this day.
LAB has been located at various premises in the course of its history. In 1965, it was moved from its initial premises at Havelock Road to Empress Place and then in 1974 to Pearl’s Hill. In 1987, it moved to Colombo Court and subsequently to the URA Centre (East Wing) at Maxwell Road in 1999, where it is currently situated.