State Courts Practice Directions 2021

Part II: GENERAL MATTERS

8. Operating hours of the State Courts

The various courts, offices and counters within the State Courts have different operating hours. These operating hours may be found the Singapore Courts website at https://www.judiciary.gov.sg.

9. Hours for the sittings of the State Courts

(1) The hours for the sittings of the State Courts shall be as follows, subject to the presiding judicial officer’s discretion in any case to conclude a sitting at such earlier or later time as he may direct:

(a)Mentions Courts (except Court 4A)

Mondays to Fridays - 9.00am to 1.00pm and

2.30pm to 5.30pm;

(b) Court 4A

Mondays to Fridays -   8.45am to 1.00pm and

2.30pm to 5.30pm;

Saturdays                 -     9.00am to 1.00pm

(c) Hearing Courts and Chambers

Mondays to Fridays -   9.30am to 1.00pm and

2.30pm to 5.30pm

(d) Night Courts

Mondays to Thursdays -   5.30pm onwards

(e) Tribunal / Simplified POHA Proceedings

Mondays to Fridays -   8.30am to 12.30pm and

2.00pm to 5.30pm

(2) This Practice Direction shall apply to both civil and criminal proceedings.

10. Hearing of urgent applications during weekends and public holidays

(1) There may be occasions when urgent applications for interim injunctions or interim preservation of subject matter of proceedings, evidence and assets to satisfy judgments need to be heard on weekends and public holidays. To request the urgent hearing of such applications, the applicant should contact the Duty Judicial Officer at 9654 0072 during the operating hours of 8.30am to 6:00pm on weekends and Public Holidays. The Duty Judicial Officer will only arrange for the hearing of applications which are so urgent that they cannot be heard the next working day.

(2) All the necessary papers required for the application must be filed using the Electronic Filing Service and appropriate draft orders of Court must be prepared.

(3) The judicial officer processing the application may direct an applicant to tender the application and supporting documents to the Court by email in lieu of filing as well as provide an undertaking from counsel that all the documents (including the originating process) will be filed in Court the next available working day.

(4) The judicial officer conducting the urgent hearing may, at his or her discretion, give directions for the urgent hearing to take place remotely or, alternatively, with parties attending in person.

11. Duty Registrar

(1) The duties of the Duty Registrar are —

(a) to hear applications made without notice or by consent provided that the summons has been filed in the Electronic Filing System;

(b) to grant approval for any matter pertaining to the administration of the Registry, including giving early or urgent dates and allowing inspection of files; and

(c) to sign and certify documents.

(2) The duty hours will be from Mondays to Fridays from 9.30am to 12.30pm and 2.30pm to 5.30pm.

(3) Parties seeking to obtain directions and/or orders from the Duty Registrar shall do so by filing an “Other Hearing Related Request” through the Electronic Filing Service, in accordance with the Workflow for Hearings before the Duty Registrar and Duty Judicial Officer, which can be downloaded from the Singapore Courts website at https://www.judiciary.gov.sg.

(4) If parties are unable to file a Request on the Electronic Filing Service (eg, because the originating papers for the case have not been filed or accepted), parties may call 6721 7705 to seek directions. In doing so parties should be prepared to explain the urgency of the application or request.

(5) Except as otherwise directed by the Duty Registrar, the filing of the relevant documents will be sufficient for the Duty Registrar’s disposal of any application or matter. Documents which are filed using the Electronic Filing Service will be returned to the advocate and solicitor through the Electronic Filing Service to the inbox of the law firm’s computer system or through the service bureau.

12. Attendance of solicitors in Court

Subject to Practice Direction 36(16), a solicitor appearing in any cause or matter may mention for counsel for all other parties provided that:

(a) the solicitor obtains confirmation of his authority to mention on their behalf for the purpose of the hearing; and

(b) parties have agreed on the order(s) sought.

13. Attendance at hearings in chambers

(1) Subject to the provisions of this Practice Direction, members of the public are not entitled to attend hearings in chambers in civil proceedings.

(2) Notwithstanding paragraph (1) above, subject to any written law, the Court may, at its discretion, permit interested persons, such as instructing solicitors, foreign legal counsel and parties to the matter, to attend hearings in chambers subject to space, security and interests of justice. In exercising its discretion, the Court may consider a broad range of factors including —

(a) the interest that the person seeking permission has in the matter before the Court;

(b) the interests of the litigants;

(c) the reasons for which such permission is sought; and

(d) the Court’s interest in preserving and upholding its authority and dignity.

(3) In granting interested persons the permission to attend hearings in chambers, the Court may, at its discretion, impose the necessary conditions to be complied with.

14. Absence from Court on medical grounds

(1) If —

(a) any party to proceedings;

(b) any witness;

(c) any counsel; or

(d) any officer or other person appointed by the Public Prosecutor to act as a Deputy Public Prosecutor or an Assistant Public Prosecutor in carrying out any of the duties of the Public Prosecutor under the Criminal Procedure Code 2010 or under any other written law,

is required to attend Court (including any hearing conducted by way of live video or live television link) and wishes to absent himself from Court on medical grounds, he must tender or cause to be tendered to the Court an original medical certificate. Where a medical certificate cannot be tendered in person, it may be tendered by any electronic means which the Court may permit.

(2) Any medical certificate tendered to the Court under paragraph (1) must:

(a) state the name of the medical practitioner who issued the certificate;

(b) state the name of the hospital or clinic at which it was issued;

(c) state the contact details of the medical practitioner and also of the hospital or clinic;

(d) be signed by the medical practitioner;

(e) contain a diagnosis of the patient concerned accompanied by a brief description of the symptom(s) and condition(s) forming the basis for the statement in sub-paragraph (2)(f) below (unless the diagnosis cannot or should not normally be disclosed);

(f) contain a statement to the effect that the person to whom the certificate is issued is medically unfit to attend Court, and specify the date(s) on which the person is medically unfit to attend Court;

(g) bear the date on which it was written and, where this differs from the date of consultation, this must be clearly disclosed; and

(h) be the original document issued by the medical practitioner, if it was issued by the medical practitioner in hard copy.

(3) If any information specified in paragraph (2) is not stated in the medical certificate itself, such information must be included in a memorandum attached to the medical certificate.

(4) All information and details in any medical certificate or memorandum must be clearly and legibly printed.

(5) If any requirement set out in paragraphs (2) to (4) is not complied with, the Court may reject the medical certificate and decline to excuse the attendance of the person to whom the medical certificate was issued. The Court may then take any action it deems appropriate.

(6) The Court may, if it deems fit, take steps to contact the medical practitioner who appears to have issued a medical certificate for the purpose of authenticating the medical certificate and, where necessary, the party tendering the medical certificate must provide such assistance to the Court as may be necessary to facilitate such authentication.

(7) This Practice Direction shall apply to both civil and criminal proceedings in the State Courts.

15. Precedence and preaudience of Senior Counsel

(1) By virtue of section 31 of the Legal Profession Act 1966 and existing custom and usage, Senior Counsel are given precedence and the right of preaudience.

(2) In order to give substance to the principle of precedence and preaudience to Senior Counsel, Senior Counsel who intend to appear before Judges or Registrars for summonses hearings should inform the Registrar in writing not later than 2 clear days before the scheduled hearing date. Matters involving Senior Counsel will thereafter be listed first, in the order of their precedence. If Senior Counsel do not appear at the time their matters come on for hearing according to the list, they will have to wait for their turn in accordance with their queue numbers given by the Queue Management System in the State Courts, subject to the Judge’s or Registrar’s overriding discretion.

(3) All other counsel, including those who appear on behalf of Senior Counsel, will continue to be heard in the order of their queue numbers in accordance with the current practice in the State Courts, subject to the Judge’s or Registrar’s overriding discretion

16. Submissions and examination by leading and assisting counsel

(1) In the event that a party is represented by more than one counsel at a hearing, whether in open Court or in chambers, the making of submissions and the questioning of witnesses may be carried out by one counsel for each party only.

(2) If counsel have divided up their work such that it is necessary or desirable that submissions on different issues be made or certain portions of the examination, cross-examination or re-examination be conducted by different counsel, an application should be made to Court at the commencement of the trial or hearing for permission to do so. The following information should be provided to the Court for the purposes of the application:

(a) the issues on which each counsel will be making submissions; and/or

(b) the witnesses to be examined, cross-examined or re-examined by each counsel, or the portions of their evidence for which each counsel will conduct the examination, cross-examination or re-examination.

(3) If permission has been granted in accordance with paragraph (2), counsel should ensure that each confines himself to the issues or portions of evidence in respect of which permission was granted and that there is no overlap in the issues or the examination being dealt with by different counsel for the same party. Further, counsel must not repeat, clarify or expand on any submissions or portions thereof that have been made by another counsel for the same party or examine, cross-examine or re-examine witnesses on portions of their evidence dealt with by another counsel for the same party.

(4) If the permission of the Court is not sought in accordance with paragraph (2), only one counsel will be allowed to make submissions or conduct examination for a party throughout the hearing.

(5) This Practice Direction shall apply to both civil and criminal proceedings.

17. Court dress

(1) The attire for male advocates and solicitors appearing in open Court will be an ordinary long-sleeved white shirt with a turn-down collar, a tie of a subdued or sober colour, a dark jacket, dark trousers and black or plain coloured shoes.

(2) The attire for female advocates and solicitors appearing in open Court will be a long-sleeved white blouse high to the neck, a dark jacket, a dark skirt or dark trousers and black or plain coloured shoes. Conspicuous jewellery or ornaments should not be worn.

(3) When appearing before the Judge or Registrar in chambers, the attire for both men and women will be the same as for open Court.

18. Use of electronic and other devices

(1) In order to maintain the dignity of Court proceedings in the State Courts, court users are strictly prohibited from making any video and/or image recording in all hearings and sessions in open Court or in chambers.

(2) Additionally, audio recording during a hearing or session is strictly prohibited without prior approval of the Judge or Registrar hearing the matter or the person presiding over the session.

(3) Court users are permitted to use notebooks, tablets, mobile phones and other electronic devices for the following purposes provided that such use does not in any way disrupt or trivialise the proceedings:

(a) to take notes of evidence during all hearings or sessions and for any other purpose pertaining to the proceedings; or

(b) to communicate with external parties during all hearings in open Court unless the Judge hearing the matter or the person presiding over the session expressly disallows this.

(4) This Practice Direction shall apply to both civil and criminal proceedings in the State Courts.

(5) This Practice Direction shall also apply to all alternative dispute resolution and counselling sessions conducted in the State Courts.

(6) The attention of court users is also drawn to section 5 of the Administration of Justice (Protection) Act 2016.

19. Personal data

(1) For the purposes of this Practice Direction:

(a) “personal data” shall have the same meaning as defined in the Personal Data Protection Act 2012; and

(b) “data subject” means a person whose personal data appears in any document filed in the Registry or an electronic cause book or register maintained by the Registry, for both civil and criminal proceedings.

(2) Consent to the collection, use or disclosure of personal data contained in any document filed with, served on, delivered or otherwise conveyed to the Registrar need not be obtained.

(3) The Registry may compile and maintain electronic cause books and registers by extracting information, including personal data, contained in any document filed with, served on, delivered or otherwise conveyed to the Registrar.

Access to, and correction of, personal data contained in documents filed with, served on, delivered or otherwise conveyed to the Registrar

(4) A data subject who wishes to access his personal data contained in any document filed with, served on, delivered or otherwise conveyed to the Registrar must, where necessary, comply with the applicable provisions in the Rules of Court 2021 and/or these Practice Directions relating to the access to and inspection of case files.

(5) A data subject shall not be entitled to request information about the ways in which his personal data contained in any document filed with, served on, delivered or otherwise conveyed to the Registrar has been used or disclosed.

(6) A data subject who wishes to correct any error or omission in his personal data in any document filed with, served on, delivered or otherwise conveyed to the Registrar must, where necessary, comply with the applicable provisions in the Rules of Court 2021 and/or these Practice Directions relating to the amendment of the relevant document.

Access to, and correction of, personal data contained in electronic cause books and registers maintained by the Registry

(7) A data subject who wishes to access his personal data contained in any electronic cause book or register must conduct a search through the relevant electronic filing service or at the Registry and shall pay any required fees (eg, the fees prescribed by the Fourth Schedule to the Rules of Court 2021).

(8) A data subject shall not be entitled to request information about the ways in which his personal data contained in any electronic cause book or register has been used or disclosed.

(9) A data subject who wishes to correct any error or omission of his personal data in any electronic cause book or register maintained by the Registry shall comply with the following procedure:

(a) The request to correct the error or omission must be made in writing by the data subject or by his solicitor, together with the reason for the requested correction. The request must clearly identify the record and the personal data to be corrected.

(b) If the data subject is not represented, his identification and contact details should also be included in the request and a copy of his identity document (including physical or digital identity card) should be provided.

(c) The following documents should accompany the request:

(i) recent copy of the record identifying the error or omission; and

(ii) supporting document(s) to substantiate the proposed correction.

(10) Where a correction is made pursuant to a request under paragraph (9) above, any information that is licensed for use under Practice Direction 33(16) will be updated accordingly with the corrected personal data.

20. Authorisation for collection of mail and Court documents

(1) Without prejudice to paragraphs (3) and (4) below, all law firms must notify the Registry of the State Courts of the particulars of those person(s) authorised to collect Court documents or mail from the State Courts on their behalf by submitting a request to authorise user through the Electronic Filing Service.

(2) Where such authorised persons are no longer so authorised, the law firm must revoke or delete the authorisation immediately by submitting a request through the Electronic Filing Service. Until receipt of such notification of revocation or deletion, Court documents and mail shall continue to be released to such authorised persons upon production of evidence of identification.

(3) Any solicitor may collect Court documents and mail on behalf of his firm and any litigant in person may collect Court documents and mail intended for him in any matter in which he is a party.

(4) A law firm may authorise a courier service-provider to collect Court documents or mail from the State Courts on its behalf. At the time of collection, the courier service provider must produce a letter of authorisation on the law firm’s letterhead that is addressed to the courier service-provider. The said letter of authorisation must clearly state —

(a) the case number;

(b) the name of the courier service-provider appointed to do the collection; and

(c) the Court documents or mail to be collected.

(5) An employee or representative of the courier service provider collecting the Court documents or mail may be requested to provide evidence that will allow the State Courts to verify that he is an employee or representative from the courier service provider and must acknowledge receipt of the Court documents or mail collected.

(1) All correspondence to the State Courts relating to or in connection with any pending cause or matter must be copied to all other parties to the cause or matter or to their solicitors unless there are good reasons for not so doing, which should be explained in the correspondence to the Court.

(2) Solicitors are further reminded that the State Courts should not be copied on correspondence between parties or their solicitors.

(3) The Registry has the discretion to reject or refuse to act on any inappropriate correspondence or correspondence which is not copied to any party in contravention of this Practice Direction.

(4) This Practice Direction shall apply to all proceedings in the State Courts.

22. Filing directions for payment into and out of Court

(1) Where moneys are to be paid into Court pursuant to a judgment or order of the Court, the judgment or order must be referenced in the Direction to Accountant-General for Payment In and filed into the case file via the Electronic Filing Service for approval by the Court.

(2) Where a party wishes to furnish security for costs for an appeal filed in the State Courts, the Direction to Accountant-General for Payment In, which shall be prepared using Form 44 of Appendix A2 to these Practice Directions, must reference the provision in the Rules of Court 2021 pursuant to which the security for costs is furnished.

(3) Where moneys are to be paid out of Court pursuant to a judgment or order of the Court, the judgment or order must be referenced in the Direction to Accountant-General for Payment Out and filed into the case file via the Electronic Filing Service for approval by the Court. The following documents (as the case may be) must, where necessary, accompany the filing of the Direction to Accountant-General for Payment Out and be filed into the case file via the Electronic Filing Service for approval by the Court:

(a) the Notice of Acceptance of Money Paid into Court in Form 28 of Appendix A2 to these Practice Directions; or

(b) the written consent filed pursuant to Order 18, Rule 12(2) or Order 19, Rule 10(2) of the Rules of Court 2021.

(4) Each Direction to Accountant-General for Payment In or Payment Out must contain amounts in a single currency. Where moneys in different currencies are to be paid into or out of Court, separate Directions must be prepared for each currency in which payment is to be made.

Direction to Accountant-General for Payment In or Out of Court

(5) For payments into Court, after the Direction to Accountant-General for Payment In has been approved, the party or his or her solicitors (as the case may be; collectively “the Payment In Party”) must send a copy of the approved Direction to Accountant-General for Payment In and the judgment or order of Court referenced therein to VITAL by email at VITAL_FS_Receivable@vital.gov.sg. Upon successful receipt of the documents, VITAL will provide instructions on how electronic payment is to be effected. A receipt will be issued by VITAL to the Payment In Party when payment is received by the Accountant-General.

(6) For payments out of Court, after the Direction to Accountant-General for Payment Out has been approved, the party or his or her solicitors (as the case may be; collectively “the Payment Out Party”) must send a copy of the approved Direction to Accountant-General for Payment Out and the judgment or order of Court referenced therein to VITAL by email to VITAL_FS_Receivable@vital.gov.sg. Upon successful receipt of the documents, VITAL will provide instructions on process for the release of the relevant moneys.

23. Publication of reports and comments on Court cases

(1) This Practice Direction applies to any solicitor, litigant (whether represented or unrepresented), the media and any other person who reports or comments on any proceedings which are pending before the State Courts.

(2) Every person to whom this Practice Direction applies —

(a) must ensure that any report or comment made by him or her in public on any pending proceedings before the State Courts —

(i) does not contravene any existing law or order of Court; and

(ii) is not calculated to affect, or be reasonably capable of affecting, the outcome of any decision by the Court.

(b) must not publish or publicly report or comment on —

(i) any affidavit or statutory declaration which has not been adduced as evidence or been referred to in any hearing whether in open Court or in chambers;

(ii) any other Court document which has not been served on the relevant party or parties in the proceedings; or

(iii) any statement made by any person in proceedings in chambers where such statement is expressly stated to be confidential or is impliedly confidential, except that a solicitor may inform his or her client of any such statement made in chambers when it is necessary for the solicitor to render proper advice to the clients.  

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