Low bono is intrinsically tied to the concept of access to justice.
Low bono fee structures are specifically catered towards clients of modest means or what is commonly known as the “sandwich class”.
The underlying principle of low bono is that no one should be deprived of their day in Court, especially not by their financial circumstances.
As low bono clients do pay a reduced amount towards their lawyers’ professional fees, low bono is different from pro bono, which is when lawyers waive their professional fees completely as a matter of goodwill.
In other jurisdictions around the world, low bono has found expression in alternative fee structures such as contingency fees and After-The-Event insurance policies that litigants can purchase to hedge against legal costs and expenses associated with litigation.
Under Singapore law, Singapore lawyers are currently prohibited from charging contingency fees in their clients’ matters. This means that your lawyers are not allowed to take a “cut” or “commission” or charge you a percentage of the legal transaction or the monetary damages awarded to you in your case as payment for their legal services.
Singapore lawyers therefore must either charge you a certain amount as payment for their legal services, or completely waive their professional fees (i.e. pro bono).
While we accept the reality of running a financially sustainable law firm business, we also recognize that “law as a business” can have a severe impact on access to justice. There are many Singapore lawyers who waive or substantially reduce their professional fees on a case-by-case basis, but there are still many more clients who find legal services priced out of their reach.
As part of our social mission, we at Eden Law are supportive of legal reform in the area of legal costs and alternative fee structures.
And until the law in Singapore is changed, we are committed to the concept of low bono by providing fixed fee arrangements on a sliding scale without compromising on the quality of our legal services.