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Law Ministry sets up regulatory authority to streamline law firm licensing matters

THE Ministry of Law (MinLaw) has set up the Legal Services Regulatory Authority (LSRA) which will streamline licensing matters relating to law practices in Singapore under a single authority.

The move is one of several recommendations made by the Committee to Review the Regulatory Framework of the Singapore Legal Services Sector last January, said the ministry on Wednesday.

The review was aimed at modernising Singapore's regulatory framework for the legal profession.

The Legal Profession Act was then amended to reflect the recommendations and was passed by Parliament last November.

The changes, together with new rules enacted under the amended Act, come into force on Wednesday.

MinLaw said the changes give law firms greater flexibility to attract and retain non-lawyer talent.

This, as non-lawyer employees of law firms can now become partners, directors or shareholders in, or share in the profits of (up to 25 per cent), their firms. They can apply to the LSRA to be registered as regulated non-practitioners.

It also said the LSRA will administer a new integrated licensing regime that brings together certain regulatory functions previously undertaken separately by the Attorney-General's Chambers' Legal Profession Secretariat and the Law Society of Singapore.

"The integrated regime aims to ensure that business criteria, such as names of law practices, foreign ownership and profit sharing, will be applied consistently.

"The newly-developed LSRA e-Services portal will bring all application transactions online and do away with manual processes. Back-end data interfaces between LSRA, the Supreme Court and the Law Society of Singapore will provide a more seamless and convenient experience for users of the portal," said the ministry.

It added that the public can tap an integrated search function on the LSRA's website to search all law practices and collaborations registered with the LSRA, as well as all lawyers practising law in Singapore, by name, firm or practice area.