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Bill passed allowing AG to represent statutory boards

Parliament approved a Bill that allows the Attorney-General to represent specific statutory boards, such as the Monetary Authority of Singapore and the Singapore Land Authority. This list will be expanded gradually.

SINGAPORE: Parliament has passed a Bill that empowers the Attorney-General (AG) to represent statutory boards in a judicial review or other court proceedings. Senior Minister of State for Law Indranee Rajah said the aim is to ensure that "the conduct of litigation is aligned across the public sector and to promote a coherent and systematic development of public law principles".

The AG may only represent stat boards specified in the Bill. For a start, the Monetary Authority of Singapore and the Singapore Land Authority are on the list. This list will be expanded gradually to cover other stat boards. Ms Indranee said the phased approach will allow the AGC to "develop its protocols to meet the projected caseload".

Currently, statutory boards are staffed by in-house legal counsel. Where necessary, they engage external counsel to represent them in legal proceedings. The AG is not empowered to represent statutory boards as it is the Government's legal representative. Statutory boards are defined as separate legal entities from the Government. The AG may intervene only in matters of public interest. But in doing so, the AG neither represents the defendant statutory board nor protects the interests of the statutory board.

Under the new Attorney-General (Additional Functions) Bill, the AG can represent statutory boards if certain conditions are met. They include - the relevant stat board making a request to the AG for such representation, the minister in charge consenting to such representation and there is no conflict of interest.

"However, if the AG determines at any point of time that there may be a likely conflict between the Government's and the relevant statutory board's interests, the statutory board would have to engage external counsel," said Ms Indranee.

She added: " The AG should be involved in cases of public importance. Such matters have the potential to affect Singapore as a whole, and could involve issues of public law and the public interest. As such, they require closer oversight."

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