SINGAPORE, An online portal that aggregates information on the judicial and legal systems of countries in the Association of South-east Asian Nations (ASEAN) was launched on Friday (July 27).

The online initiative, called the ASEAN Judiciaries Portal (AJP), is the first of its kind. Initially mooted at the 1st Council of ASEAN Chief Justices' (CACJ) Meeting in August 2013, it was officially launched on Friday at the sixth CACJ meeting.

"It provides a platform through which anyone can discover, appreciate, and learn more about the judiciaries and legal environments of the various ASEAN member states," said Singapore Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon during his opening address at the meeting.

"It is our hope that the knowledge afforded by having easy access to such information will support commerce and promote the flow of investments into the ASEAN region."

A members-only secure section within the portal also provides a platform for ASEAN judiciaries to share knowledge, Singapore's Supreme Court said in a press release.

The portal, however, benefits more than just the 10 nations within the regional bloc.

Morten Hoglund, the Norwegian Ambassador to ASEAN, said it will benefit small and medium businesses in Norway as it makes it easier for their companies to penetrate the ASEAN market.

The Norwegian government played an important role in the portal, contributing about US$441,000 to its development and maintenance until 2020.

Hoglund said: "I have for some time highlighted this specific project as a key example of how we make it easier for Norwegian companies to access all of ASEAN; how concrete integration is taking place by such an action and how we assist in closing the development gap."

Wendell Wong, director of dispute relations at Drew & Napier LLC called the portal "an excellent tool for investors.

"In this day and age of international trade, access to information is key, so the faster you find the information, the easier it is for you to make your investment decisions," he said.

"ASEAN presents a very unique investment opportunity not just for local investors, but for investors around the world.

"Lawyers can use this portal as a first stop to get the necessary information as well."

The 6th CACJ Meeting was held alongside the 13th ASEAN Law Association General Assembly and the ASEAN Law Conference, which end on Saturday.

Following this, Singapore will take over the chairmanship of the CACJ from Brunei.

Source: NAM News Network