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Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon: Opening Address at the Inaugural Singapore-France Judicial Roundtable


Wednesday, 31 January 2024
Supreme Court of Singapore

The Honourable First President of the Court of Cassation of France, Mr Christophe Soulard
Distinguished Judges and officials from the Court of Cassation of France
My fellow Judges and colleagues

1                 Warm greetings to all of you, and good morning to you in France. Today, we mark a milestone in the collaboration between our two judiciaries with the convening of the inaugural Singapore-France Judicial Roundtable. Let me first express my deep gratitude to Your Excellency, First President Christophe Soulard, for your strong support for this event and for co-chairing today’s proceedings with me. This forum was conceived during our bilateral meeting at the Court of Cassation in May last year, when we signed a Memorandum of Understanding (or “MOU”) for Judicial Cooperation. At that meeting, Your Excellency had spoken of the need, in your words, to “breathe life” into the MOU by engaging in discussions on topics of common interest, and we agreed to begin the conversation with a virtual meeting between a small group of judges. I am delighted that today, that idea has come to fruition, and I very much hope that this event will pave the way for further collaborations and exchanges between our two judiciaries.

2                 Please allow me at this stage to briefly introduce the colleagues with me. To my immediate right is Justice Philip Jeyaretnam, President of the Singapore International Commercial Court and a Judge of our High Court. On my left is Justice Aedit Abdullah, the Judge in charge of Transformation and Innovation for the Singapore Judiciary and also a Judge of our High Court. And to my far right is Justice Goh Yihan, also a Judge of our High Court.

3                 The subject of our Roundtable today is the interface between technology and our justice systems. This is a central and pressing area of interest for courts around the world. Recent advances in technology, especially in artificial intelligence (or “AI”), have opened up new and exciting prospects for the use of technology by our judiciaries. And these innovations are generating a range of novel and complex legal issues that will come before our courts. It is therefore fitting that we will focus on these two aspects of the link between technology and our justice systems in this Roundtable. Let me provide a brief overview of our programme today:

  1. The first session will centre on “Technology Used by the Courts”. We will discuss how our judiciaries have incorporated technology into our court procedures and processes, as well as the potential to use AI to aid the delivery of justice. My colleague, Justice Aedit Abdullah, will share our journey in the adoption of technology, with a focus on some recent and upcoming projects that our courts are undertaking. And we very much look forward to learning about the Court of Cassation’s experience in leveraging on technology to enhance your systems and processes.
  2. Our second session, “AI and Positive Law”, will focus on several novel legal issues arising from advances in AI. My colleague, Justice Goh Yihan, will focus on three features of AI systems – namely, their capacity to “learn”, to create material and to make “decisions” – and discuss the legal issues that these capabilities may engender. We approach these issues from the vantage point of a common law jurisdiction, but I believe that comparative law perspectives on these issues – including from civil law jurisdictions such as France – will be immensely valuable. We are therefore eager to hear your views as to how French law might address these and other legal issues that are emerging with developments in AI.

4                 We have a full and thought-provoking agenda, and I hope that we will share a lively and insightful discussion. Let me express my heartfelt appreciation to the joint Working Group led by Judge Clémence Bourillon and Justice Philip Jeyaretnam for all of their work in planning and organising this Roundtable. I am confident that this forum will become a significant platform for our courts to exchange ideas and experiences, and that it will open up many avenues for fruitful collaboration between our judiciaries.

5                 It now gives me great pleasure to invite Your Excellency, First President Christophe Soulard, to deliver your opening remarks. Thank you.


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