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Historical Background

1954 : Legal Aid Bureau was contemplated.

1960 : A letter written by an 'orthopaedic almoner' of the General Hospital, Kuala Lumpur who requested that free legal advice should be made available to patients suffering from serious residual disabilities where compensation could be awarded if they are given legal representation.

Meanwhile certain women's organizations also urged the Government to take action to provide assistance to women and their children in their maintenance claims against their husband and the children's guardian.

At that time, legal advice and assistance given were only confined to -

  • Government servants in cases of legal proceedings relating to their official duty (vide the Public Officers
    (Conduct and Discipline) (General Orders Chapter D) Regulations 1969)

  • Poor persons in 'forma pauperis' (vide the Rules of Supreme Court 1957.

  • Persons charged with criminal offences involving capital punishment (vide the Criminal Procedure Code).

1969, October

The issue was referred to the Attorney - General and the then Attorney - General supported the proposals. Subsequently it was referred to the Ministry of Justice which later sought the advice of the Bar Council who also supported the scheme. A committee was formed to study the matter.

1970, September

A pilot project was launched in to provide legal aid relating to advice only.


A sum of RM100,000 was allocated for the purpose. Due to the limited fund it was therefore found necessary to confine its jurisdiction to certain specific proceedings.

Priority was given to family matters since it was found to be the bulk of the cases requiring immediate assistance such as maintenance claim, enforcement of maintenance orders and etc.


September 1970 The Legal Aid Bureau was established.
1985 At the beginning, the Bureau was placed under the Attorney - General's Chambers.
May 1995 : May - The Bureau was placed under the Ministry of Law after it was set up.
June 1995 : June - It now comes under the wings of the Legal Affairs Division of the Prime Minister's Department.
16 January 2010 : 16 January - The name of the "Legal Aid Bureau" has been changed to the "Legal Aid Department".


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