New e-tool to help litigants-in-person prepare court documents

New e-tool to help litigants-in-person prepare court documents

SINGAPORE: Litigants-in-person who are facing certain legal issues can now use a new online tool to help them prepare their court documents.

Called the Automated Court Documents Assembly (ACDA), the online service was launched on Friday (Apr 13) as part of the Community Justice Centre’s (CJC) new online help centre.

The online service can guide self-represented litigants in preparing documents for self-declared bankruptcy applications, mitigation pleas or deputyship applications. It will also cover simplified divorce proceedings by the end of July.

CJC said it chose to focus on these areas as litigants-in-person sought assistance on them more frequently. It's hoped that, through the service, those who are financially strapped will not have to incur the additional cost of hiring professionals to prepare their documents.

CJC’s Executive Director Leonard Lee said: “This can never replace the service a lawyer can provide at a cost. But for someone who does not have the money to engage a lawyer, this is definitely a great alternative for them.”

“They will not feel disadvantaged even if the opposite side does have a lawyer, and they do not have one,” Mr Lee added.

The online help centre, called the Self-Help e-Web (SHeW), was launched at Sentosa Golf Club to celebrate CJC’s fifth anniversary.

CJC said the initiative comes as it's been providing more legal assistance – such as legal advice – to litigants-in-person in recent years, from about 4,000 in 2013 to more than 18,000 last year.

Guest-of-honour Senior Minister of State for Law Indranee Rajah said: “SHeW is in line with the national push towards becoming a Smart Nation. By harnessing technology to improve your operational efficiency, you will be delivering better services to litigants-in-person.

"The system generates completed forms which can be printed and submitted to the Courts. It uses easy-to-understand infographics to guide users through key court procedures ... Users will only need to answer a series of simple questions, and the system will generate a form automatically." 

A chatbot that can provide basic legal information is also in the works.

The online help centre was the result of collaboration among the private, public and people sectors. These included the NUS Pro Bono Group, lawyers and technology companies, as well as the National Council of Social Service, which provided seed funding.

Source: CNA/zl(ra)