We comply fully with the Code of Governance for Charities and Institutions of Public Character. We are committed to upholding the highest standards of transparency and accountability and believe that adopting the best governance practices will increase our effectiveness and instill public confidence in what we do. Please refer to the Charity Portal for our Governance Evaluation Checklist.
A. BOARD GOVERNANCE
LSPBS is governed by a Board of Directors (“the Board”). No Board member is paid any remuneration or fees for his services and no Board member is a staff of LSPBS.
The Constitution governs, amongst other matters, the following issues:
1. LSPBS’ objects;
2. the Board’s composition;
3. the appointment, vacation and removal process of Board members;
4. the powers and duties of the Board; and
5. the tenure of its office bearers.
As part of providing appropriate induction to incoming Board members, LSPBS has in place Board Administration Guidelines which aim to orient and guide Board members by providing reference information on matters including board responsibilities and governance, the conduct of board meetings, board selection and recruitment, training and evaluation of board effectiveness, strategic planning, programme management, financial management and internal controls and matters reserved for the Board’s direction.
Board roles and composition
It is the responsibility of the Board to ensure that LSPBS complies with the Constitution and all relevant laws and regulations, as well as to make sure LSPBS is governed and managed responsibly and prudently to achieve organisational effectiveness, credibility and sustainability.
The majority of the Board shall as far as practicable be lawyers with a practicing certificate issued under Section 25 of the Legal Profession Act (Cap. 161) in force. The Board endeavours to ensure there is an appropriate mix of core competencies and collective expertise to discharge its responsibilities.
Board members are appointed for a term of two (2) years and may be re-appointed at the expiration of the term. To ensure succession planning and steady renewal in the spirit of sustainability of LSPBS, the Board has a term limit of ten years. No Board member shall serve as:
• Chairman for a continuous period of more than ten (10) years at any one time
• Treasurer for a continuous period of more than four (4) years at any one time.
• Chairperson of a Committee for a continuous period of more than five (5) years at any one time.
Reappointment of the same person to the above positions can only be considered after a lapse of at least two (2) years.
The Board conducts regular self-evaluation to assess its performance and effectiveness once per term or every three years, whichever is shorter. Board members complete evaluation forms which are then provided to the Nominations Committee for their review and feedback.
The Nominations Committee takes the lead in the renomination and reappointment process and are guided by various considerations, including the skillsets and experiences useful and related to our services and operations and the outcome of the Board’s evaluation of its performance and effectiveness.
The Terms of Reference of our six (6) Board Committees are set out below.
The Audit Committee facilitates the external and internal audit of LSPBS for the Board to obtain independent information about LSPBS activities. The Audit Committee’s responsibilities include:
• To oversee the financial reporting and disclosure process, and monitor the choice of accounting policies and principles;
• To review the audit plans and reports of the external auditors and internal auditors, and considers the effectiveness of the actions taken by management on the auditors’ recommendations;
• To conduct periodic internal checks on key processes to ensure compliance with the established procedures, and report to the Board on the findings and recommendations for improvements;
• To analyse and address the risks that are associated with the key processes;
• To oversee regulatory compliance and whistleblower guidelines;
• To report to the Board of any financial irregularities, concerns and opportunities; and
• To liaise with auditors on any significant matters arising.
The Finance Committee provides financial oversight for LSPBS. The responsibilities of the Finance Committee include:
• To prepare LSPBS’s budget for Board’s approval;
• To develop coherent financial policies for LSPBS including investment policies and guidelines for the Board’s approval;
• To review the various functions and activities of LSPBS which impact the finances of LSPBS;
• To ensure that the appropriate internal controls and risk management strategies (both operational and financial risks) are in place;
• To ensure accountability to the Board, LSPBS and its stakeholders; and
• To present financial reports to the Board on a quarterly basis.
The Fundraising Committee is responsible for overseeing LSPBS’s overall fundraising and, in particular, the fundraising done by the Board. The Fundraising Committee’s responsibilities include:
• To work with staff to establish a fund-raising plan that incorporates a series of appropriate vehicles, such as special events, direct mail, fundraising campaigns, etc;
• To work with fundraising staff in their efforts to raise money;
• To identify and solicit funds from external sources of support;
• To take the lead in certain types of outreach efforts, such as chairing a dinner/dance committee or hosting fund-raising parties, etc;
• To be responsible for involvement of all Board members in fundraising; and
• To monitor fundraising efforts to ensure that the fundraising activities are transparent and ethical, that donors are acknowledged appropriately, and that fundraising efforts are cost-effective.
iv. Human Resource
The HR Committee provides oversight of the development and sound implementation of personnel policies and practices. The responsibilities of the HR Committee include:
• Reviewing job descriptions;
• Establishing a system for setting the remuneration of staff;
• Establishing a volunteer management system;
• Establishing a fair and transparent performance review and appraisal system for staff;
• Reviewing staff salary and benefits package; and
• Guiding the development, review and authorisation of HR policies and procedures.
The Nominations Committee is responsible for the general affairs of the Board. The Nominations Committee’s responsibilities include the following:
• Reviews the structure, size and composition of the Board and Board Committees annually to ensure that the Board has an appropriate balance of independent Board Members and to ensure an appropriate balance of expertise, skills, attributes and ability among the Board Members;
• Identifies potential Board Member candidates and explores their interest and availability for Board service;
• Nominates individual to be appointed as Board Members;
• Takes the lead in succession planning for the Board Chairman, directors and CEO;
• Nominates Board Members for election as Board officers;
• Designs and oversees a process of Board orientation;
• Develops a transparent process for evaluating the performance of the Board, its Board Committees and directors;
• Reviews training and professional development programmes for the Board; and
• Identifies and nominates individuals to be appointed as Programme Committee Chairpersons.
The IT Committee reports to the Board on policies, acquisitions and matters related to LSPBS’ IT assets, including:
• Advising the Board on IT matters;
• Overseeing the procurement of IT systems and equipment; and
• Establishing appropriate policies on IT systems and use of software.
The IT Committee shall review and monitor:
• The on-going appropriateness and relevance of LSPBS’ policy for the allocation of resources required to deliver both the short-term and long-term IT strategies;
• On-going appropriateness and relevance of LSPBS’ information management and data governance framework and systems including those relating to compliance with the PDPA Regulations; and
• Any major IT projects requiring tender or which the Committee consider are important to LSPBS.
The IT Committee shall approve:
• Key performance indicators of IT services within the company; and
• IT policies, standards and procedures and any major changes in LSPBS’ IT strategies, priorities and/or structures.
The Committee shall seek to ensure, in conjunction with the Audit Committee, and with all other committees and the Board, as applicable, that information and technology risks are identified, assessed and managed in line with relevant frameworks and recommend actions.
The Board meets at least once every four (4) months with a quorum of four (4) Board members. Executive management is invited to attend board meetings to present updates and provide recommendations, ex-officio, but do not vote or participate in Board decision-making.
B. CONFLICT OF INTEREST
LSPBS has in place protocols and procedures to manage and avoid conflict of interest. Upon appointment, the CEO, Board members, employees and committee members sign a declaration form confirming that they have read and understood the conflict of interest policy of LSPBS and that they will make full disclosure of the interests, relationships and holdings that could potentially result in a conflict of interest. They also confirm that they will notify the Board immediately when a conflict of interest situation arises. In addition, the CEO, Board members, employees and committee members sign a disclosure of interests statement each year.
Board members do not receive remuneration and staff are not involved in setting their own remuneration.
C. STRATEGIC PLANNING
The Board periodically reviews and approves the vision and mission to ensure LSPBS stays relevant to its changing environment and needs. The Board also sets aside time to review and update the organisation’s strategic roadmap.
D. PROGRAMME MANAGEMENT
LPSBS’ Committee Administration Guidelines set out the procedures for the appointment of LSPBS programme committees, their work processes, and the respective responsibilities of committee members, committee chairpersons and committee secretariat representatives.
LSPBS ensures that its operations and programmes are directed towards achieving its objectives through the preparation of annual work plans and budgets and regularly updating on the progress and outcome of programmes to the Board.
The terms of reference of our six (6) Programme Committees are set out below.
i. Criminal Legal Aid Scheme (CLAS)
The Terms of Reference of the CLAS Committee are:
• To co-ordinate and advise the Board on the administration of the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme (the Scheme);
• To hold dialogue sessions, seminars, talks and visits relevant for volunteer lawyers and / or pupils of the Scheme on criminal law, practice and procedure;
• To publish relevant information to the public on the Scheme and on criminal law and procedure;
• To organise fund raising activities for the Scheme on behalf of LSPBS; and
• To keep the Board apprised of all such activities.
ii. Community Legal Clinics (CLC)
The Terms of Reference of the CLC Committee are:
• To ensure that the proposed expansion plans are implemented effectiveIy, efficiently and according to the timeline;
• To provide guidance to the Secretariat and oversee the implementation process;
• To co-ordinate and advise the Board on the administration of the Community Legal Clinics network;
• To hold dialogue sessions, seminars, talks and visits relevant for volunteer lawyers and / or pupils on Community Legal Clinics processes, practice and procedure;
• To publish relevant information to the public on the Community Legal Clinics network and the services provided;
• To organise fund raising activities for the Community Legal Clinics network on behalf of LSPBS; and
• To keep the Board apprised of all such activities.
iii. Content Management Committee
The Terms of Reference of the Content Management Committee are:
• To support LSPBS’ Secretariat and Programme Committees through overseeing the editorial content, design, publication and dissemination of LSPBS’ external publications;
• To periodically review LSPBS’ external publications to ensure that they remain relevant, serve the community, and are updated in a timely manner;
• To review publication standards and policies, with a view to ensuring LSPBS’ external publications are of a high quality, in line with publishing best practices and ethics and compliant with the applicable laws and regulations;
• To maintain a central repository of legal knowledge and related materials and collaterals;
• To mobilise and develop a pool of competent editors and contributors to carry out the functions described above;
• To report to the LSPBS Board on the contribution of publishing activities towards LSPBS’ objectives.
iv. Law Awareness
The Terms of Reference of the Law Awareness Committee are:
• To assist the Board in its purpose to facilitate the acquisition of legal knowledge by members of the public;
• To recommend and implement law awareness projects and programmes for the public's benefit;
• To undertake fund raising projects on behalf of LSPBS for law awareness programmes; and
• To apprise the Board of all such activities.
v. Project Law Help (PLH)
The Terms of Reference of the PLH Committee are:
• To make provision for a scheme by which legal practices and advocates and solicitors can provide pro bono non-litigation commercial legal advice to charities, non-profit organisations, social enterprises and voluntary welfare organisations; and
• To facilitate, promote, support and encourage a sustainable commitment to pro bono work within the legal profession in Singapore.
vi. Family Justice Support Scheme (FJSS)
• To co-ordinate and advise on policy matters, protocols and processes concerning the FJSS;
• To liaise with stakeholders in the family justice system in relation to the administration of FJSS;
• Assist in mobilisation of volunteers and organising resources to support FJSS; and
• Assist in promoting awareness of FJSS.
E. HUMAN RESOURCE AND VOLUNTEER MANAGEMENT
LSPBS administers a Code of Conduct applicable to all Board members, employees and volunteers, which require them to act lawfully, honestly, ethically and in the best interests of LSPBS when performing their duties.
LSPBS also has a series of human resource policies and SOPs that cover areas such as remuneration, promotions, benefits, training and development, reimbursement of expenses, performance appraisal, disciplinary action and cessation of employment.
LSPBS is a learning organisation committed to helping employees grow in their careers. In addition to making learning opportunities available, LSPBS has a fair and objective performance management process linked to measurable and clearly defined targets with regular performance appraisals, supervision and feedback systems.
LSPBS discloses the annual remuneration of 3 highest paid staff for transparency:
Salary Bands (in bands of SGD100,000) Number of Staff
SGD100,000 – SGD199,999 2
SGD200,000 – SGD299,999 1
LSPBS does not have paid staff who are close members of the family of the Executive Head or Board members.
LSPBS has in place a Whistleblowing Policy that aims to deter wrongdoing and provide proper avenues for employees, volunteers, donors, beneficiaries and other stakeholders to raise concerns about suspected improprieties in good faith to the Audit Committee.
LSPBS has in place a Volunteer Management Policy to provide guidance to staff and volunteers on volunteer administration and management. The policy includes information on:
• volunteer management procedures on matters concerning maintenance of records, conflict of interest, confidentiality, personal data protection;
• volunteer recruitment and selection processes;
• volunteer orientation, training and development;
• volunteer supervision and evaluation; and
• volunteer support and recognition.
F. FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT AND INTERNAL CONTROLS
Financial management policies in place include policies on fixed and intangible asset management, procurement, the management of gifts, receipting, payment procedures and controls and an approval matrix setting out delegation of approval authority and limits of approval. The annual accounts are audited by an external professional audit firm. LSPBS does not provide loans and donations to external parties.
LSPBS has a fixed asset register to account for all its fixed assets. LSPBS safeguards the value of its assets by getting adequate insurance.
The Board approves an annual budget after considering, amongst other matters, the committee work plans and budgets for the respective Programme Committees' activities for the year. The Board also monitors regularly LSPBS' budget income and expenditure to ensure LSPBS operates efficiently and adhere strictly to financial policies.
Our level and purpose of reserves, reserves ratio, purpose and amount of restricted funds are disclosed in our audited financial statements. Restricted funds are planned to be used for immediate operational needs, operational needs in the short term and/or in accordance with funding agreements. LSPBS does not have endowment funds.
For long-term stability of the operations, it is the objective of LSPBS to achieve reserves that would be able to sustain operations for a 1-year period in the event of a decline in donations.
G. RISK MANAGEMENT
LSPBS maintains a risk register in the format set out in the Enterprise Risk Management Toolkit for Charities and IPCs, jointly produced by the Charity Council, KPMG and National University of Singapore Business School. The risk register is updated periodically and as and when acute risks arise. The Audit Committee has oversight of the risk register, which is presented to the Board at least once a year.
H. FUNDRAISING PRACTICES
Conduct of fundraising
LSPBS fundraises according to best practices and in compliance with the relevant laws and regulations. LSPBS does not engage third party fundraisers.
Accountability to donors
LSPBS has a Gift Policy in place to:
• Guide enquiries on gifts to LSPBS and the administration of gifts;
• Identify circumstances under which the donor should seek independent advice;
• Ensure compliance with other relevant regulatory and compliance issues, including personal data protection and honoring requests for donor anonymity.
LSPBS also has financial SOPs in place to ensure donations are properly accounted for and promptly deposited.
J. PUBLIC IMAGE
To ensure that LSPBS maintains an image consistent with its objectives, LSPBS has in place a Communications Policy which sets out policies on the release of information to media and on social media, the designation of spokespersons and the use of LSPBS' name and logos.