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About the Legal Assistance Scheme for Capital Offences

The Legal Assistance Scheme for Capital Offences (LASCO) offers free legal counsel for those who are charged with capital offences (death penalty offences), regardless of nationality.

Under the scheme, the accused will be assigned lawyers to represent them at trial and on appeal once they are charged with a capital offence. This usually consists of 2 practising defence lawyers (one leading and one assisting).

How counsel is assigned

Practising lawyers may apply through the Supreme Court to volunteer as LASCO counsel. Those who qualify will be on a list maintained by the Registrar of the Supreme Court (the Register of LASCO counsel) for a fixed term of 2 years.

Currently, about 200 lawyers are LASCO counsel.

When there is a case, the counsel on the Register are notified. A counsel may also volunteer for the case. The LASCO case assignment panel then assigns the counsel to the case after deliberation.

Eligibility criteria

Lawyers of good standing and reputation are eligible to apply to be placed on the Register. If you are a lawyer seeking to be placed within one of the following categories for LASCO counsels, you must meet the criteria applicable to that category to qualify.

Refer to the Guidelines to LASCO (PDF, 246 KB) for more information about volunteering as LASCO counsel.

You must have at least 7 years of legal practice and have represented parties in at least one of the following:

  • 2 capital trials and 1 criminal appeal before the Court of Appeal.
  • 1 capital trial and 5 criminal appeals (magistrate's appeals or criminal appeals before the Court of Appeal) with at least 2 appeals before the Court of Appeal.

The LASCO appointment panel may also consider the following parties for lead counsel:

  • Lawyers who have at least 10 years of legal practice and have experience in civil litigation in the High Court and Court of Appeal.
  • Senior lawyers who do not meet the criteria requirements.
  • Lawyers with previous experience from the bench, or as a deputy public prosecutor or state counsel.

You must have at least 5 years of legal practice and have represented parties in at least one of the following:

  • 3 criminal trials (with at least 1 capital trial).
  • 1 capital trial and 2 criminal appeals (magistrate's appeals or criminal appeals before the Court of Appeal) with at least 1 appeal before the Court of Appeal.

The LASCO appointment panel may also take into account previous experience from the bench, or as a deputy public prosecutor or state counsel for the appointment of assisting counsel.

If you do not meet the criteria for lead or assisting counsel, you may apply to be appointed as junior assisting counsel, subject to the approval of the LASCO appointment panel.

In general, only lawyers who have done at least 1 criminal trial in the High Court will be considered for junior assisting counsel.

How to apply

You may apply to volunteer as a LASCO counsel by submitting the completed Application Form for LASCO online. You may upload your attachments and annexures (if any) together with your form submission.

Offer of honorarium

All assigned counsel (except junior assisting counsel) will receive an honorarium for professional services rendered. The honorarium amount for each case is determined by the Registrar of the Supreme Court.

LASCO counsel may make their claims by submitting the completed Form for Honorarium Claims online. You may upload your attachments and annexures (if any) together with your form submission.


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