Pro bono work 'bridges gap': CJ
Judicial volunteers and pro bono services are essential in making justice accessible to those in need, said Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon at the inaugural Tri-Court Volunteers Appreciation Dinner, held at the Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel, last night.
For the first time, the judiciary, comprising the Supreme Court, the State Courts and the Family Justice Courts, came together to show its appreciation and recognise the contributions of volunteers in pro bono work.
In the last three years, the number of judiciary volunteers - including lawyers as well as volunteers, such as engineers, lecturers and retirees who serve as mediators and counsellors - grew by about 20 per cent, from 229 in 2014 to 284 this year.
VITAL TO JUSTICE
Said CJ Menon: "The fact is there are the disadvantaged in society who lack the means to pay for legal services that would allow them to access justice in a meaningful way.
"It is here that pro bono work bridges the gap."
He referred to lawyers and non-lawyers, such as volunteers who provide mediation or counselling services, and said both groups are equally vital to the administration of justice.
Last night, four volunteers were accorded Outstanding Court Volunteer Awards for their outstanding work in the State Courts or Family Justice Courts, alongside Mr Eugene Thuraisingam, who was conferred the Lasco Award.
Twenty-three volunteers also received long service awards.