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Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon: Welcome Address delivered at Judiciary Volunteers Appreciation Lunch 2023

Judiciary Volunteers Appreciation Lunch 2023

Welcome Address
Friday, 17 November 2023

The Honourable the Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon
Supreme Court of Singapore

1.            Good afternoon, and welcome to the Judiciary Volunteers Appreciation Lunch 2023, an event we host to recognise and to express our sincere appreciation for the hard work and outstanding contributions of the volunteers who have supported the Judiciary’s various programmes for litigants and court users. One of our central priorities is our endeavour to enhance access to justice and to build a user-centric court system that meets the needs of our public. This is part of our broader mission to ensure that robust mechanisms are in place for the delivery of justice to all(1). In this tremendously important and worthwhile undertaking, we are assisted in great measure by our corps of volunteers, who take on a range of work from conducting mediations to assisting litigants who cannot afford legal representation. So, I want to take this opportunity to express our heartfelt appreciation to each and every one of you for what you do in so many diverse ways to support this vitally important work.

2.            Today, we will present three categories of awards to our volunteers. First, we will present 12 Long Service Awards to volunteers who have been working with our courts for 10, 15, 20, and even 25 years. We are deeply grateful to each of these awardees for their dedication and the invaluable contributions that they make.

3.            This year, we will also be presenting the Legal Assistance Scheme for Capital Offences (or “LASCO”) Long Service Award to Mr Jason Peter Dendroff, who has volunteered with LASCO for 26 years, since 1997. In this time, he has taken on 21 cases, two of which are currently pending before the courts.

4.            Finally, we will be presenting the 2023 Outstanding Court Volunteer Awards to three volunteers for their sterling contributions in the past year. Let me briefly introduce each of the recipients of this award:

  1. First, Mr Melvin Loh Guo Wei receives the Outstanding Court Volunteer Award in the Advocate and Solicitor category. Mr Loh volunteered as a Court Volunteer Mediator in both civil and criminal cases in the State Courts on a remarkable 88 occasions, and has been complimented on his work by court users for his dedication and professionalism.

  2. Next, Mr Ram Narain Dubey receives the Outstanding Court Volunteer Award in the Open category. Also a Court Volunteer Mediator, Mr Dubey has volunteered in more than 30 sessions and mediated ten or more cases in each of the last two years. Notably, Mr Dubey is also one of the 17 trained “e-Mediators” with the Community Courts and Tribunals Cluster in the State Courts.

  3. Last but not least, Mr Ivan Tang Wu Hwan receives the Outstanding Court Volunteer Award in the Student category. Mr Tang has been volunteering with the Aid-in-Person Project since August 2021, helping to draft the mitigation pleas of self-represented persons who wished to plead guilty. From April last year to March this year, Mr Tang volunteered almost twice the average number of hours volunteered by other student volunteers.

5.            I commend and congratulate all the award recipients on their exceptional contributions, and I thank each and every one of you for so generously dedicating your time, energies and expertise to supporting this aspect of the work of the Judiciary. It is especially gratifying that you do so not in pursuit of any material reward or publicity, but just because of your desire to do the right thing. There is no purer motive than this and we are deeply grateful. Your contributions make a real impact on the lives of our court users and you play a critical role in enhancing the delivery of justice in our legal system. I hope that your experiences as a volunteer have been as fulfilling for you as they have been meaningful to the Judiciary and to the beneficiaries of your work.

6.            Thank you very much, and I hope that you all enjoy today’s lunch, which is a small token of our appreciation.

(1) See, eg, Sundaresh Menon, “The Role of the Courts in Our Society – Safeguarding Society”, opening address at the Singapore Courts – Conversations with the Community (21 September 2023) at paras 29, 37 and 47. 

Topics: Volunteers

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