Bonds forged and knowledge shared in Centre for Asian Legal Studies student-led peer learning initiative

NUS Law’s Centre for Asian Legal Studies (CALS) and the Thammasat University Faculty of Law (TU Law) recently organised a workshop titled “An Introduction to the Basics of Singapore Contract Law” as part of the CALS-TU Peer Learning Initiative (or CATPLI) − a CALS student-led project established with the long-term goal of promoting direct knowledge exchange and academic collaboration between law students of both universities. 

Held from 19 March to 23 April, the inaugural workshop comprised seven virtual sessions that sought to introduce Thai law students to some basic principles of contract law in Singapore, including concepts not explicitly addressed in Thai contract law such as undue influence and unconscionability. Participants had meaningful discussions highlighting doctrinal differences present in the contract laws of both jurisdictions, as well as the commonalities and distinctions between Singapore’s common law system and Thailand’s civil law system. 

Workshop participants hailed from TU Law as well as four other Thai universities – Chulalongkorn University, Valaya Alongkorn Rajabhat University, Mae Fah Luang University and Assumption University. The NUS Law student team led the initiative from conceptualisation, curriculum design and publicity, to logistics and administration, and were supported by NUS Law faculty who provided academic guidance throughout the project. 

This inter-institution student-led initiative proved to be an immersive and eye-opening experience for the NUS Law student team. Justin Foo, CATPLI co-project director and Year 4 NUS Law undergraduate, reflected, “It has been a fulfilling journey leading this project over the past few months — from conceptualising this initiative, to working with TU Law and CALS to make this a reality, and putting together a team to conduct this workshop. It was particularly memorable to have worked with our counterparts from TU Comparative Legal Studies in the course of our preparation for the sessions, with new friendships forged and fresh perspectives gained.” 

Echoing his sentiments, co-project director and Year 4 NUS Law student Toh Ding Jun added that the TU Law students “provided us valuable insights into Thai contract law, thereby helping us draw appropriate comparisons with Singapore contract law." 

NUS Law undergraduates who served as workshop tutors also shared their own positive experiences in creating and delivering the sessions, expressing a deeper appreciation for the cultural differences between students of different Asian nationalities and reflecting on similarities and differences in perspectives between common law and civil law students in Thailand and Singapore. 

This first workshop under the CATPLI initiative is part of CALS’ efforts to develop opportunities for the exchange of knowledge between students from NUS Law and its partner institutions in the ASEAN region. In her opening remarks at the first session, CALS Director, Associate Professor Jaclyn Neo, noted that in an increasingly fragile global world order, it was important that by learning “about how law is made, interpreted, applied and theorised by those close to us”, that partner institutions and their students would be able to forge bonds by “advancing our mutual understanding and, with hope, our mutual respect”. 

TU Law Dean, Professor Munin Pongsapan, commended this initiative as “a historic event – the first time that a programme on Singaporean law is being offered to Thai law students.” He shared, “This programme will be of great inspiration to Thai law students in their studies: a comparative approach always leads one to reconsider and re-examine one’s own law from a new perspective. I would like to offer my thanks to the NUS Faculty of Law for providing this opportunity to our students.” 

Following this first workshop, it is envisaged that the CATPLI project will evolve into a longer-term programme, with future workshops being planned to address other areas of Singapore law. 

Click here for more information on the CATPLI project team. 

By the Centre for Asian Legal Studies at NUS Law