How do I apply for LAB’s Services?
1. Overview of LAB’s Application Process for Legal Aid and Assistance
Please note that this is a general overview of the LAB’s application process for legal aid and assistance. Your application may be processed differently, depending on the facts of your case.
For legal advice matters, you need to register and attend at LAB to see the Duty Lawyer. Other than the preliminary means test, there are no other processes such as statement taking, merits test, etc.
Upon registering an application with us, we will ask you for your consent to share the data that we will be collecting from you during the course of your application. Data collected will be kept strictly confidential. Sharing your data enables us to better facilitate and tailor the legal services provided to you. Please click here for full details on our terms & conditions of data collection/sharing.
*This process may be different if your case involves an application for legal aid where a child has been removed/abducted from Singapore or removed/abducted to Singapore under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.
Please see (11) below for further information.
2. How do I register for LAB’s services?
If you require legal aid, assistance, or advice, you can either*:
(a) Register your case online here. A step by step guide to apply online via our Applicant Portal is available here.
Once you have registered successfully, you will be required to attend at LAB within 3 working days after the date of registration.
(b) Come to the Minlaw Services Centre. Please refer to our opening hours here.
*If you are a minor (i.e. a person below 21 years of age), your parent or guardian must apply on your behalf.
‘Choose your own Assigned Solicitor’ Pilot Programme
From 1 August 2023, the Legal Aid Bureau (LAB), a department of the Ministry of Law, is running a pilot programme which allows applicants of legal aid to choose their preferred Assigned Solicitors. The pilot programme is open to applicants who wish to initiate divorce proceedings, and have not commenced proceedings yet.
Apart from being able to choose your preferred Assigned Solicitor, your application process for legal aid will be more streamlined as you will no longer need to provide a statement on your legal issue to LAB first. Less time will also be required to assign an Assigned Solicitor to take on your case.
Click here to find out more about the pilot programme and the list of our participating Assigned Solicitors. For other queries, please refer to our FAQs here.
If your spouse has started divorce proceedings against you, you cannot participate in this pilot programme. Please file your Memorandum of Appearance (MOA) at Crimsonlogic within 8 days from the day you were served the court documents. Thereafter, please come to the Legal Aid Bureau to apply for aid.
3. What are the benefits of registering online?
If you register online, you will save time. Click here to see how our Applicant Portal helps you save time. You will save yourself time to inform us about the facts of your case or answer questions about your financial situation (“preliminary means test”) if you can complete the relevant forms online successfully.
4. What happens when I attend at LAB?
If you are registering in-person at LAB, you will be asked some basic questions about the facts of your case and your financial situation (“preliminary means test”), to determine your eligibility for legal aid.
If your matter is within LAB’s scope of work and you pass the preliminary means test, then:
(a) If you only need legal advice, you will be able to consult the Duty Lawyer.
(b) If you only need legal assistance to draft a Will or Deed of Separation, a file will be opened for you.
(c) If you need legal representation in court proceedings, a file will be opened for you for straightforward cases. If your matter is complex or if you require legal advice, you will be able to consult the Duty Lawyer first, who will assess whether a file should be opened for your matter.
If you have registered online, when you come down to LAB, please indicate at the self-help kiosk that you have registered via the AP Portal. You will be registered and attended to by the Duty Lawyer in priority to individuals who walk-in to register for legal advice.
5. What happens when I see the Duty Lawyer?
The Duty Lawyer will give you oral advice on questions relating to Singapore law and suggest practical steps you may take in your case. He may ask you for more information and documents, in order to advise you properly. If necessary, the lawyer will also assess if your matter is one LAB can help to represent you in Court for. If it is, then the lawyer will direct the counter staff to open a file for you and give you an appointment for the full Means Test.
*Please note that this initial assessment does NOT mean that legal aid has been or will be granted to you.
For legal aid to be granted to you, you will still need to pass both the full Means Test (which assesses your financial eligibility for legal aid) and the Merits Test (which assesses whether you have a reasonable case to bring or defend in court).
6. What happens during the Means Test?
The Means Test assesses your financial circumstances to determine if you have limited means.
During the Means Test, you must make full and frank disclosure of your means. Failure to do so is a criminal offence punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 or with imprisonment of up to 6 months, or both.
If you pass the Means Test, then you will be given an appointment for Statement Taking.
7. What happens during the Statement Taking?
You will be interviewed by a Legal Executive from LAB during the Statement Taking who will ask you questions about your case. You should provide LAB with the full facts of your case as well as all the relevant documents/evidence. This helps LAB to investigate your case and assess whether legal aid should be granted to you.
8. What documents should I bring when I apply for legal aid?
Please bring the following documents with you on the day you come to apply for legal aid:
(a) Your identity card (IC) or Valid Passport if you are a Permanent Resident (PR);
(b) Updated Personal and/or Joint Account Bank Books or Statements, Fixed Deposit Receipts and/or any other Bank-related investment information;
(c) Your latest Central Depository (CDP) Account Statement (if any); and
(d) Any other documents relevant to your application such as Court Orders or Persoanl Protection Applications.
If you do not have Singpass, please also bring the following documents:
(e) Your CPF Contribution History for the past 12 months, or if you are 65 years and above, your CPF Transaction History for the past 12 months;
(f) Your latest Income Tax Assessment/IR8A form; and
(g) Any property notices or letters in your IRAS MyTax Portal that shows the Annual Value of the property you own, if it is not an HDB flat.
9. Will LAB represent me immediately after I have applied for legal aid or after Statement Taking?
No. After your legal aid application, you will need to pass the Means Test, before the Statement Taking. After your statement is taken, LAB will need to investigate your case and assess if legal aid should be granted to you. LAB will assess if you have reasonable grounds for bringing or defending a case in Court (“the Merits Test”), after we get a thorough understanding of your case.
You can find out more about the Merits Test here.
You will be informed of the Board’s decision on whether you have been granted legal aid once the decision has been made.
In urgent cases (for example where there are ongoing court proceedings), LAB may represent you under a Provisional Grant of Aid (“PGA”) even before you have passed the Merits Test. This PGA will continue/be renewed until the Board makes a decision for your case.
10. How long do I have to wait from the Statement Taking to the decision on whether I have been granted aid?
This depends on the complexity of your case and the amount of time needed for investigations. For fairly straightforward cases, it will usually take about four months before the decision is made on whether to grant you aid.
You must inform us if Court proceedings have been commenced in your case, whether by yourself or against you, and/or whether your case requires urgent attention (for any other reason). This is so that, if necessary, we can give you help even before the decision is made on whether to grant you aid.
11. My child has been removed from Singapore or removed/abducted to Singapore. How can I apply for legal aid?
If you are not a resident in Singapore or if your child has been removed from Singapore, please approach the Singapore Central Authority to assist you. You will be required to complete “Form 1-Application for Legal Aid for matters relating to the HCCAICA” and submit it to the said Authority.
For more information on the Singapore Central Authority and the application process for the return of abducted children under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, you may refer to the Ministry of Social and Family Development’s website here
If you are resident in Singapore, please come to LAB personally during office hours (8.30 am to 5.00 pm) on weekdays to make an application for legal aid or advice.