Forum: Take long-term view in changes to justice system

It is heartening to read about the latest steps that will be taken to ease the divorce process, in particular for those without legal representation (Online portal to ease process of uncontested divorces: CJ, Sept 15).

For some time, "therapeutic justice" has been just a buzzword, but with training planned for family court judges and legal practitioners, it is finally taking shape.

Family law, unlike other areas of law, deals with the most intimate fabric of individuals' lives, many of whom, such as little children, will not even get their voices heard but are the ones who will be most impacted in a divorce.

In the face of the pandemic, Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon prudently pointed out the need to reconceptualise family justice.

I would urge the courts to go a step further and take a longer-term view so that the systems we are experimenting with now, such as virtual hearings, will still have a place when the pandemic ends.

The pandemic has compelled us to think creatively about how we do things, and we should not waste the lessons learnt.

Rather than merely grafting technology onto our old ways, the thinking process should go beyond automation of traditional ways so that access to justice can be truly enhanced.

It is imperative that the courts waste no time in gathering feedback from court users who have had a taste of virtual hearings.

Such input could be invaluable as we contemplate the design of a future system that could replace one that remains too costly, time consuming and unintelligible for the layman.

I believe our visionary court system can blaze a trail and take the lead by showing our legal practitioners that the courts exist to ensure the delivery of justice to all in need and not simply those who can afford it.

Lily Ong