Criminal Legal Aid Scheme

1. What is CLAS?

2. Which Offences does CLAS Cover?

3. How Do I Qualify for CLAS?

4. Do I Have to Pay?

5. How Do I Apply for CLAS? (COVID-19 Update) 

6. Can I Apply on Behalf of a Relative/Friend?

7. What Documents Do I Need To Prepare?

8. My Spouse/Child Under 21 Years Old Has Applied for Legal Aid from Remand. What Do I Do Next?

9. How Long Would It Take For Me to Get a Lawyer from CLAS?

10. What Happens After My Application is Approved?

11. Contact Us

1. What is CLAS?

The Criminal Legal Aid Scheme ("CLAS") provides criminal legal assistance to the poor and needy who are unable to afford a lawyer and are facing charges in a Singapore court for non-death penalty offences under statutes covered by CLAS.

2. Which Offences does CLAS Cover?

CLAS covers offences under the following statutes:

  1. Arms & Explosives Act (Cap. 13)
  2. Arms Offences Act (Cap. 14)
  3. Computer Misuse and Cybersecurity Act (Cap. 50A)
  4. Corrosive & Explosive Substances & Offensive Weapons Act (Cap. 65)
  5. Dangerous Fireworks Act (Cap. 72)
  6. Enlistment Act (Cap. 93)
  7. Explosive Substances Act (Cap. 100)
  8. Films Act (Cap. 107)
  9. Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance) Act (Cap. 184)
  10. Misuse of Drugs Act (Cap. 185)
  11. Moneylenders Act (Cap. 188) [Sections 19 & 47]
  12. Penal Code (Cap. 224)
  13. Prevention of Corruption Act (Cap. 241)
  14. Undesirable Publications Act (Cap. 338)
  15. Vandalism Act (Cap. 341)
  16. Women's Charter (Cap. 353) [Sections 65(8) and 140(1)(i) only]
  17. Destitute Persons Act (Cap. 78)(Updated, w.e.f January 2021)

3. How Do I Qualify for CLAS?

In order to qualify for legal assistance, you will need to pass both the Means Test and the Merits Test.

Means Test

You will be asked about your income, savings, property, and other assets. To qualify under the Means Test, your disposable income and assets should not be more than $10,000 each, over the last twelve months.

"Disposable Income" means your income (which includes salary, rental income, and other allowances and payouts) together with the income (if any) of your spouse, during the period of 12 months immediately before the date of the application, after deducting:

  1. $6,000 for the applicant;
  2. $6,000 for the working spouse;
  3. Up to $6,000 for each dependant;
  4. An amount not exceeding $20,000 for rent (if any);
  5. The applicant's contribution to the Central Provident Fund;
  6. The spouse's contribution to the Central Provident Fund.


"Disposable Capital" means your property, excluding:

  1. Your clothes;
  2. Things you need for your work;
  3. Household furniture;
  4. The house you live in, but only if it has an annual value of not more than $13,000 or is a Housing and Development Board (HDB) flat;
  5. Savings up to $30,000, only if you are 60 years of age or above;
  6. Your Central Provident Fund (CPF).

The parents of single minor applicants under the age of 21 will also be assessed for means, and the same Means Test criteria apply.

Financial liabilities will not be taken into account, unless in exceptional circumstances.

CLAS reserves the right to request for additional documents and/or to conduct additional interviews to ensure that a holistic assessment of Means is being done.

Merits Test

An interviewing lawyer will ask questions regarding your case. Under the Merits Test, CLAS will decide whether giving you a lawyer will help your case. The Merits Test assesses whether you have reasonable grounds for defending your case in Court. The Merits Tester will ask you about the facts of your case and your intended defence, (if any). If there is no merit, CLAS may not approve your application. 

The interviewing lawyer may also give you some preliminary legal advice on your matter and preliminary advice on the procedures moving forward regarding your matter.

4. Do I Have to Pay?

Depending on the result of your means test, you may need to pay CLAS a co-payment amount before you can be assigned a volunteer lawyer. You will be advised how much, if any, you need to pay to CLAS when you are informed of the outcome of the application. The payment is calculated based on your income and assets. 

You have to check your email or letterbox every day. If payment is required but not made within the deadline, your application will be rejected.

Your assigned lawyer will not charge you any fees for his/her services. However, he/she may ask you to pay for out of pocket expenses such as the costs of obtaining police statements, reports, and transportation.

If a volunteer lawyer has already been assigned to you by CLAS, and if you later decide to discharge the lawyer without a valid reason, you will be required to reimburse CLAS for the expenses incurred on your behalf, including but not limited to the costs of medical reports, transportation, and the reasonable time-cost incurred by the lawyer on your matter.

5. How Do I Apply for CLAS?

To apply, please ensure that you:

  1. Have already been formally charged in Court;
  2. Face charges covered by CLAS;
  3. Do not already have a lawyer representing you, unless the lawyer has indicated that he is willing to accept your case under CLAS.

If you fulfill the above criteria, please complete the CLAS Online Declaration and Application Form (

The submission of the CLAS Online Declaration and Application form does not mean or guarantee that your application is successful.

CLAS will conduct a Preliminary Means Test assessment based on the information you have provided. If you pass the preliminary assessment, we will email you with instructions on the next steps and the submission of documents. 

Safe Management Measures

To stay in-line with Safe Management Measures and to prevent overcrowding, walk-in applications are strictly reserved for the elderly, the tech-illiterate, and/or those who have been assessed to be of limited tech-literacy.

CLAS reserves the right to turn away members of the public who are tech-literate and/or are otherwise able to obtain the assistance of family and friends to apply online.

6. Can I Apply on behalf of My Relative/ Friend?

No. The person seeking legal aid must apply by himself/herself. However, if the applicant is suffering from a mental/physical incapacitation, a representative with a signed Letter of Authority may apply on his/her behalf.

If your relative/friend is in Prison or in remand, please inform them that they may only apply directly through the Institution.

7. What Documents Do I Need to Prepare?

If you have completed the CLAS Online Declaration and Application Form (, the instructions will be sent to you by email.

You may also click here ( for instructions on how to obtain the required documents.

Please note that it is in your own best interests to ensure that the documents are complete, accurate, clear, and up-to-date, and sent to CLAS in a single submission/email. 

Incomplete, wrong, out-of-date, blurred/truncated submissions and submissions that are sent across multiple emails may be rejected, thereby prolonging your application process and the timelines. 

For the tech-illiterate who do not have friends or family to assist in the retrieval of the required documents, we have a Document Retrieval Service (the "DR Service") that is run by our Volunteer Assistants. You will be required to sign a Disclaimer of Liability if you wish to use the DR Service. Please note that the use of the DR Service is on a first-come-first-served basis, strictly for those assessed to be of limited tech-literacy, and is subject to the availability of our Volunteer Assistants.

8. My Spouse/ My Child Under 21 Years Old Has Applied for Legal Aid from Remand. What Should I Do?

If the applicant is in remand, and you are the:

  • Spouse of the applicant, or
  • Parent of the single minor applicant under 21 years old,

You will also need to complete the CLAS Online Declaration and Application Form ( after your spouse/child has been interviewed. You will receive an email from us setting out the next steps and the submission of documents after we have reviewed your application.

9. How Long Would It Take for Me to Get a Lawyer from CLAS?

If you qualify completely for legal aid, it may take up to 3 months for a lawyer to be assigned to you. If your application is rejected or co-payment is required, you should be notified in about 2 weeks from the date your application is accepted for processing. If co-payment is required, the above 3-month timeline estimate will start from the date that co-payment is made in full.

10. What Happens After My Application is Approved?

CLAS will assign a volunteer lawyer who will handle your case. You will be informed of the particulars of the lawyer by email. You will then be his/her client.

If you discharge the counsel assigned by CLAS, you will be required to reimburse CLAS for the expenses incurred on your behalf, including but not limited to the costs of medical reports that have been paid for by CLAS on your behalf. No new counsel will be assigned to you in the event of a discharge. 

Applicants who are found to have the financial ability to engage their own private counsel subsequent to CLAS approval will be investigated and dealt with seriously.

11. Contact Us

Phone Operating Hours 

6534 1564 (Weekdays, excluding Public Holidays, from 9am to 11am and 2pm to 4pm)


1 Havelock Square

#B1-18 State Courts

Singapore 059724

Physical Office Opening Hours

Mondays to Fridays (Closed on Public Holidays and Weekends)

Morning: 9am to 12pm

Afternoon: 2pm to 5pm

Friday afternoons are for enquiries only. No applications will be accepted.

Disclaimer: The Criminal Legal Aid Scheme Committee and Management reserve the right to accept, reject or withdraw any application or grant of aid, at its sole discretion.

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