Singapore Lawyers Fill Class to Capacity at JWB’s 3rd Annual Workshop on Migrant Worker Litigation

Justice Without Borders recently held its 3rd annual Continuing Professional Development workshop on “Employing Legal Solutions for International Migrant Workers: A Legal Education Workshop on Cross-Border Civil Litigation.”  This workshop was again generously sponsored by Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF), and co-hosted by Professor Jaclyn Neo of the National University of Singapore. Ms Fatim Jumabhoy from HSF kindly gave an opening speech at the beginning of the workshop.

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Mr Douglas Maclean giving the opening remarks on behalf of JWB

The workshop was a huge success, with a nearly full class of 37 lawyers, most locally qualified, joining the event. The lawyers came for training on the wide variety of private law issues that migrant workers encounter here in Singapore and upon their return home. Participants also got grounding in the key administrative and civil law mechanisms available to migrant workers.

Equipping lawyers for critical pro bono services

The training readies these lawyers to engage in case preparation, litigation, and strategic legal research on behalf of migrant workers. This population faces a variety of legal needs in Singapore and upon return home, making trained pro bono lawyers a vital resource in high demand.  

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 (left to right): Mr Jonathan Muk, Mr Mark Lee, Mr Tan Fang Qun, Dr. Jaclyn Neo

Event speakers came from diverse professional backgrounds, including academia, private practice, the Ministry of Manpower and front-line non-governmental organisations. Together, the speakers provided a broad range of practical perspectives on civil remedies for migrant workers, giving participants a comprehensive understanding of some of the common circumstances that migrant workers encounter.    

Participants also jumped into a case simulation, working together to assess a hypothetical client with issues drawn from real cases. Using JWB’s Practitioner’s Manual for Migrant Workers as a reference, the participants identified potential legal claims, discussed evidence collection and some of the practical logistical hurdles of cross-border litigation. This year we also explored good practices in evidence collection for victims’ civil compensation claims, with a special look at how the Personal Data Protection Act can be used in some cases to obtain crucial evidence.



 Participants working on the case simulation and presenting their findings

The workshop closed with a panel that connected the participants with three local non-governmental organisations. Panelists discussed how lawyers can get involved in their work, whether in taking on an entire case, or helping with a key piece of research.


(left to right): Professor Helena Whalen-Bridge, Tammie Koh, Peter Teo and Desiree Leong

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 Participants learning more about civil law mechanisms available to migrant workers

Ultimately, the workshop was a first step in developing more pro bono capacity in Singapore for migrant workers. Going forward, JWB will be following up with participants to connect them with potential pro bono opportunities on behalf of vulnerable clients. Overall, it was encouraging to see such a strong turnout, and we were delighted to observe the participants’ enthusiasm to learn more about cross-border civil litigation and other legal issues affecting migrant workers.