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Joint Media Release: Working towards sentencing frameworks that are instructive, communicative and yield consistent outcomes

1.    The State Courts and the Singapore Academy of Law (SAL) jointly organised the Sentencing Conference 2022 (Cyber edition) on 31 Oct and 1 Nov 2022, to promote the development of standards and best practices in sentencing. Titled Sentencing Frameworks – Instructive, Communicative and Consistent Outcomes, the two-day virtual conference was opened today by The Honourable the Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, and the Presiding Judge of the State Courts, Justice Vincent Hoong. About 250 members of the criminal justice system attended the Conference, including judges, prosecutors, criminal defence lawyers and providers of rehabilitation services.

2.    The Conference features international and local speakers and panellists from the Judiciary and key stakeholders of the criminal justice system, who will discuss the integral role of sentencing frameworks in securing consistent outcomes in discrete cases and recent developments in the sentencing landscape in Singapore.

3.    Sentencing frameworks issued by the Court of Appeal and the General Division of the High Court form a critical part of Singapore’s sentencing jurisprudence. In his Keynote Address at the Conference, Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon spoke on the place of sentencing frameworks in the sentencing process, against the backdrop of the rise of sentencing discretion, the courts’ role in sentencing and the objectives and end goal of sentencing. He said that sentencing guidelines and frameworks are best understood as means to enable the sentencing court to strike the right balance between imposing a condign sentence on the individual offender while ensuring broad consistency in sentencing outcomes to achieve fairness across offenders.

4.    Similarly, the Honourable Justice of the Court of Appeal Steven Chong, who delivered a special guest lecture at the Conference, spoke about the benefits that sentencing frameworks bring. He said that while sentencing is “not a scientific exercise and does not demand mathematical precision”, some degree of structure and broad consistency is essential for the coherent development of Singapore’s sentencing jurisprudence. He added: “The reality is that offenders do compare their sentences against those imposed on others whom they believe or perceive to be similarly situated, and so do members of the public who keep abreast of developments in our criminal law.”

5.    In his Keynote Address, Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon also spoke about two other topics. The first was the formation of the Sentencing Advisory Panel (SAP) in June this year. Chief Justice Menon said that the SAP will come to play a significant role in Singapore’s criminal justice system, by promoting consistency and transparency in sentencing while enhancing public awareness of sentencing. The second topic was the possible use of artificial intelligence (AI) in sentencing. Citing examples of how other jurisdictions have used AI in sentencing and the issues that this has raised, Chief Justice Menon said that he did not see Singapore using AI in criminal cases within the foreseeable future, but it remains an important subject to be followed closely.

Issued by: State Courts, Singapore and Singapore Academy of Law

Annexes

(i)    Annex A (PDF, 104 KB)  – Sentencing Conference 2022 Fact sheet  

(ii)   Annex B (PDF, 1142 KB)  – Sentencing Conference 2012 Programme booklet

(iii)  Annex C (PDF, 263 KB)  – The Honourable the Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon’s Keynote Address

(iv)  Annex D (PDF, 239 KB)  – The Honourable Justice of the Court of Appeal Steven Chong’s Special Guest Lecture


About the Singapore Academy of Law (SAL)

SAL’s mission is to enable future-ready, trusted legal professionals. The statutory body works with members and stakeholders to set new precedents of excellence in Singapore law through developing legal thought leadership, world class legal technology infrastructure and legal solutions to support our members. Our mandates are to build up the intellectual capital of the legal profession by enhancing legal knowledge, raise the international profile of Singapore as a legal hub and improve the standards and efficiency of legal practice through continuing professional development and the use of technology. As a body established by statute, SAL also undertakes statutory functions such as stakeholding services and appointment of Senior Counsel, Commissioners for Oaths and Notaries Public.

For more information, please visit www.sal.org.sg

About the State Courts

The State Courts comprise the District Courts, Magistrates’ Courts, Coroners’ Courts, Small Claims Tribunals, Community Disputes Resolution Tribunals and Employment Claims Tribunals. We hear about 90 per cent of the overall caseload in Singapore and about 99 per cent of the total criminal caseload. In addition, we conduct judicial dispute resolution to help parties resolve their disputes amicably without trial.   Headed by the Presiding Judge of the State Courts, we are a trusted and forward-looking judiciary that is committed to administering justice with quality judgments, timely and effective dispute resolution, and excellent court services.

For more information, please visit www.judiciary.gov.sg

2022/11/01

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