The origins of the CJC can be dated back to 2006 when the State Courts (then known as the Subordinate Courts) started a pilot project called the Lay Assistant Scheme which was first announced by the Honourable the Chief Justice, Chan Sek Keong. The students of the National University of Singapore, Faculty of Law, Pro Bono Group participated in this pilot. The scheme was a modification of the UK McKenzie Friend concept which involves volunteers usually with some legal knowledge. The volunteers attend hearings with the litigants, who are not represented by lawyers, to give advice on non-legal issues and also to help with administrative tasks like completion of court forms. The scheme had assisted litigants who were unable to afford a lawyer but are also not eligible for legal aid.
The Scheme continued to be developed. Two HELP centres were set up in February 2010. With an overarching objective in "Helping to Empower Litigants in Person" (acronym: HELP), the centres provide basic information on court processes, procedures and practices to the LiPs. However the centres do not provide legal advice. Since the centres were set up in December 2012, they have assisted more than 10,000 cases. The HELP Centre was awarded the second prize by the United Nations in the category of "Improving the Delivery of Public Services" for Asia and the Pacific region.
In light of the growing number of litigants who choose to represent themselves in court, a one-stop hub that provides greater integration of legal aid and social assistance to LiPs was deemed necessary. On 20 June 2012, the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS) (now renamed as Ministry of Social and Family Development – MSF), Ministry of Law (MinLaw), Subordinate Courts (SubCt), Tan Chin Tuan Foundation (TCTF), and the Law Society of Singapore (LawSoc) entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to establish a Community Justice Centre (CJC) that seeks to assist unrepresented litigants through its services. The CJC was seen as a natural extension of the HELP Centre and was incorporated in December 2012. Through the support of the volunteers and community partnership, the CJC will continue to ensure the LiPs have access to the justice system as well as to assist them in resolving their social issues.