The concept of low bono is intrinsically tied to access to justice. Low bono fee structures are specifically catered towards clients commonly known as the “sandwich class”, too rich to be granted legal aid and yet too poor to afford legal services at market rate.
Low bono is a distinctly different concept from pro bono, where 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 purchase to hedge against legal costs.
Under Singapore law, Singapore lawyers are currently prohibited from charging contingency fees in litigation matters. This means that Singapore lawyers must either charge for their legal services, or waive their professional fees completely.
It is therefore understandable why most lawyers would be reluctant to represent clients of modest means. If such clients cannot afford to pay for legal services, there is a risk that lawyers will not be fairly remunerated for their professional expertise or time spent on these clients’ cases.
We at Eden Law recognise that “law as a business” can have a severe impact on access to justice. While there are Singapore lawyers who waive or substantially reduce their professional fees on a case-by-case basis, there are still many more clients who find legal services priced out of their reach.
And until the law in Singapore is changed, we are committed to low bono by providing fixed fee arrangements on a sliding scale to our clients without compromising the quality of our legal services.