By: Kheng-Liang Tan
Prominent Human Rights lawyer M Ravi said in a Facebook post today that he is “greatly concerned” by the fact the one has to pay to be able to gain access to case law judgement in Singapore.
Currently, one has to access the Lawnet portal as a member in order to be able to do legal research.
Lawnet describes itself as a “service of the Singapore Academy of Law… providing a complete suite of information and transactional solutions for the Singapore and global legal community.”
According to the website, the Standard rate for a single user is $164 a month while there is a Preferential Rate of $76 per month and a Student rate of $60.
While Ravi acknowledges that some cases are available online free, these are limited in nature and older cases – such as those before 2000 – are not available. Such cases, he argues, is “often considered even more persuasive authorities by nature”.
He also argues that the ready access to such laws are “vital for a progressive democracy” and such judgments should be “readily available and accessible” to the man on the street as they are “part of public record and to facilitate transparency in decision making by judges”.
He concluded that he “cannot see why there is a need for any company or entity to profit from access to law reports and the public interest should be paramount”.
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