State Courts Practice Directions 2021

PART VIII: EVIDENCE – WITNESSES, AFFIDAVITS AND EXHIBITS

58. Witnesses

Issuance of Order to Attend Court

(1) A request for the Registrar to issue an Order to Attend Court pursuant to Order 15, Rule 4(1) of the Rules of Court 2021 is made by filing Form 29 of Appendix A2 to these Practice Directions. An Order to Attend Court is issued when it is sealed by an officer of the Registry.

(2) In Tribunal / Simplified POHA Proceedings, an application for a summons to a witness to attend court is to be made by applying for a Summons to Witness on the Community Justice and Tribunals System.

Release of witness upon completion of evidence

(3) Every witness will be released by the Court upon completion of his evidence and it is the duty of counsel to apply to the Court if counsel desires the witness to remain. This paragraph shall apply to both civil and criminal proceedings.

Request for documents filed in Court

(4) A request for production of documents filed in Court or the Court’s records pursuant to Order 15, Rule 4(15) is made in Form 17 of Appendix A1 to these Practice Directions.

(1) Any application for permission pursuant to section 62A of the Evidence Act 1893 for any person outside Singapore to give evidence by live video, live television or live audio link in any proceedings (other than proceedings in a criminal matter) must be made expeditiously and, in any case, unless the Court otherwise directs, no later than 4 weeks before the date of commencement of the hearing at which the person is to give evidence. The application is to be made by way of a summons with notice with a supporting affidavit.

(2) A party applying for permission for any person outside Singapore to give evidence by live video, live television or live audio link must take note of the relevant legislation and requirements in force in the foreign country or territory where the person is giving evidence. Certain countries or territories may impose prohibitions against, restrictions on, or requirements to obtain permission for or relating to, the giving of evidence by a person in that country or territory for court proceedings in a different country or territory. The party applying for permission must make all necessary enquiries, and take all necessary steps, to ensure that the foreign country or territory where the person is giving evidence raises no objection to the giving of evidence in that country or territory, for court proceedings in Singapore. This may be done by any means that the party considers appropriate, including:

(a) obtaining advice from a foreign lawyer qualified to advise on the laws of the relevant foreign country or territory;

(b) making enquiries with the relevant authorities; or

(c) obtaining permission from the relevant foreign country or territory, in accordance with any applicable procedure, for evidence to be given by a person located in that country or territory through a live video or live television link, if such permission is required.

(3) The necessary enquiries and steps referred to in paragraph (2) above must be made prior to the application referred to in paragraph (1) above and evidence of the enquiries and steps taken must be given in the supporting affidavit to the application.

(4) An application to the General Division of the High Court for the issue of a letter of request, to the relevant authorities of a foreign jurisdiction, for permission for evidence to be given by live video or live television link by a person located in that jurisdiction, must be made expeditiously and, unless the Court otherwise directs, not later than 8 weeks before the date of commencement of the hearing at which the person is to give evidence. In this regard, parties should write to the State Courts at the earliest possible juncture to inform the Court of their intention to take out such an application in the General Division of the High Court.

(5) To avoid doubt, the proceedings mentioned in paragraph (1) include all civil proceedings involving the examination of any person.

60. Form of affidavits

(1) Affidavits must be in Form 31 of Appendix A2 to these Practice Directions. In addition to the requirements under Order 15, Rule 19 of the Rules of Court 2021, affidavits should comply with the other requirements set out in this Practice Direction.

Affidavits filed electronically

(2) This paragraph shall apply to affidavits which are to be filed through the Electronic Filing Service.

(a) When filing affidavits for use during a hearing of an interlocutory application, the summons number of the interlocutory application must be provided in the Electronic Filing Service in addition to the case number of the suit or matter.

(b) Affidavits shall have a blank margin of not less than 35mm wide on all four sides of the page. They shall be printed or typed and must be double-spaced.

(c) The text of the affidavits (as opposed to the exhibits) must be printed or typed and double-spaced on white paper.

(d) At the top right-hand corner of the first page of every affidavit there shall be typed or printed in a single line the following:

(i) the party on whose behalf the affidavit is filed;

(ii) the name of the deponent;

(iii) the ordinal number of the affidavit in relation to the affidavits filed in the cause or matter by the deponent; and

(iv) the date the affidavit is filed.

(e) Every page of the affidavit (including separators and exhibits) shall be paginated consecutively, and the page number shall be placed at the top right-hand corner of the page.

(3) Where affidavits are printed in hard copy:

(a) affidavits shall be printed on A4-ISO of durable quality;

(b) affidavits may be printed on one side or both sides of the paper;

(c) affidavits of 30 pages or less (including exhibits and dividing and backing sheets) may be stapled at the top left-hand corner of the paper firmly; and

(d) any affidavit (including exhibits, dividing and backing sheets) exceeding 30 pages shall be bound with plastic ring binding or plastic spine thermal binding (the plastic rings or spines to be red for claimants/appellants, and blue for defendants/respondents) with a transparent plastic cover in front and at the back.

61. Non-documentary exhibits to affidavits

(1) Non-documentary exhibits (eg, samples of merchandise) shall be clearly marked with the exhibit mark in such a manner that there is no likelihood of the exhibit being separated or misplaced. The affidavit should indicate that the exhibit (eg, samples of merchandise) is a non-documentary exhibit and refer to it according to the relevant exhibit number.

(2) Where the exhibit consists of more than one item each and every such separate item of the exhibits shall similarly be separately marked with enough of the usual exhibit mark to ensure precise identification.

(3) Where it is impracticable to mark on the article itself, such article or the container thereof shall be tagged or labelled with the exhibit mark securely attached to the exhibit in such a manner that it is not easily removable.

(4) Very small non-documentary exhibits shall be enclosed or mounted in a sealed transparent container, tagged or labelled as aforesaid. An enlarged photograph showing the relevant characteristics of such exhibits shall, where applicable, be exhibited in the affidavit.

62. Documentary exhibits to affidavits

(1) Every page of every exhibit must be fully and clearly legible. Where necessary, magnified copies of the relevant pages should be interleaved in appropriate places.

More than 10 documentary exhibits

(2) When there are more than 10 different documentary exhibits in an affidavit, there shall be —

(a) a table of contents of the documentary exhibits inserted before the first of such exhibits enumerating every exhibit in the affidavit in the manner of the example set out below:

Reference in affidavit Nature of exhibit Page No.
“TAK-1” Certificate of marriage 6
“TAK-2” Certificate of birth 7

and

(b) exhibits shall be set out in the sequence in which references are made to them in the affidavit.

Pagination

(3) Every page of the exhibits, including cover pages, dividing sheets or separators between exhibits, shall be consecutively numbered at the top right-hand corner of each page, following from the page numbers of the affidavit (ie, the first page of the exhibits shall take the number following the last sheet of the affidavit’s main text). The page number of the affidavit must correspond to the page number in the Portable Document Format (“PDF”) version that is filed through the Electronic Filing Service.

Dividing Sheets

(4) The exhibits in an affidavit shall be prefaced by a dividing sheet, marked, typed or stamped clearly with an exhibit mark as follows:

“This is the exhibit marked [letter of the alphabet or a number] referred to in
the affidavit of [name of the deponent] and sworn/affirmed before me this
[date on which the affidavit is sworn or affirmed].

Before me,

SGD

A Commissioner for Oaths”

Bookmark

(5) Each exhibit in the affidavit must be separately bookmarked in the PDF document that is filed. The names of the bookmarks should follow the initials of the deponent of the affidavit, eg, “TAK-1”, “TAK-2”.

(6) Where a deponent deposes to more than one affidavit with exhibits in the same action, the numbering of the exhibits in all subsequent affidavits shall run consecutively throughout, and not begin again with each affidavit. For instance, where a deponent in his first affidavit has marked two exhibits as “TAK-1” and “TAK-2”, the first exhibit in his second affidavit should be marked as “TAK-3” instead of “TAK-1”.

References to exhibits in other affidavits

(7) Where a deponent wishes to refer to documents already exhibited to some other deponent’s affidavit, he must exhibit them to his own affidavit pursuant to Order 15, Rule 27(1) of the Rules of Court 2021.

(8) Related documents (eg, correspondence and invoices) may be collected together and collectively exhibited as one exhibit arranged in chronological order, beginning with the earliest at the top, paginated in accordance with paragraph (3) above, and the exhibit must have a front page showing the table of contents of the items in the exhibit.

References to exhibits in text of affidavit

(9) Where the text of an affidavit makes reference to a documentary exhibit, the page number(s) of the affidavit where the relevant portions of the documentary exhibit can be found should be set out alongside the number of the exhibit in question.

63. Swearing or affirming of affidavits, statutory declarations and oaths

(1) Advocates and solicitors are requested to encourage their clients to use the services of other advocates and solicitors who are appointed commissioners for oaths and who are proficient in the language or dialect in which the affidavits or statutory declarations are to be sworn or affirmed, or in which the oaths are to be taken. The State Courts’ commissioners for oaths will continue to take affidavits or statutory declarations and administer oaths for legally aided cases and for parties who are acting in person who need to file documents in the State Courts.

(2) If arrangements for the use of the services of advocates and solicitors who are appointed as commissioners for oaths are not possible, deponents who are blind or illiterate in English may continue to be brought by solicitors to the State Courts’ commissioners for oaths to swear or affirm affidavits and statutory declarations. As the State Courts’ commissioners for oaths are under a duty to ensure that the deponent understands the document being deposed to, they are obliged to interpret the document to intended deponents; this is also the case in relation to blind deponents. This necessary exercise may take a considerable time and may cause long delays for other persons who wish to take affidavits or statutory declarations before the State Courts’ commissioners for oaths.

(3) Accordingly, solicitors who wish to bring illiterate or blind deponents before the State Courts’ commissioners for oaths should first estimate the time that will be taken to interpret the document or documents to be deposed to. If it is estimated that the total time required for interpretation of the documents will be more than 20 minutes, the solicitor must write to the Registrar and arrange for a special appointment for the documents to be sworn or affirmed; the solicitor should not bring the deponent before the duty commissioner for oaths without such an appointment.

(4) If an illiterate or a blind deponent is brought before the duty State Courts commissioner for oaths and the interpretation of the document or documents takes more than 20 minutes, the commissioner for oaths will refer the solicitor and the deponent to the Registrar for a special appointment to be made for the documents to be deposed to.

(5) Save in exceptional circumstances, the State Courts will not entertain requests from advocates and solicitors for its commissioners for oaths to swear or affirm affidavits or statutory declarations or administer oaths to a deponent outside the State Courts’ premises. Advocates and solicitors appointed as commissioners for oaths and who are proficient in the language or dialect in which the affidavits or statutory declarations are to be sworn or affirmed, or in which oaths are to be taken, are instead encouraged to perform this function.

(6) For the purposes of Order 15, Rule 22 of the Rules of Court 2021, the deponent and the commissioner for oaths may sign the affidavit electronically by applying a security procedure that results in a secure electronic signature under section 18 of the Electronic Transactions Act 2010.

(7) The affidavit should be made, as far as possible, as if the deponent were appearing before the commissioner for oaths in person, and the attestation must state that the affidavit was sworn (or affirmed) and signed in Singapore with the deponent appearing before the commissioner for oaths through a live video link or live television link, or that the affidavit was signed by the deponent and/or the commissioner for oaths electronically in Singapore, or both, as the case may be.

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

64. Effect of non-compliance

Any affidavit or exhibit which does not comply with the Practice Directions contained in this Part may be rejected by the Court and made the subject of an order for costs.

65. Objections to the contents of affidavits of evidence-in-chief

(1) For the purposes of Order 15, Rule 16(6) of the Rules of Court 2021, objections to the contents of affidavits of evidence-in-chief must be taken by filing and serving a notice in Form 18 of Appendix A1 to these Practice Directions.

(2) The notice in Form 18 should set out all the objections to the contents of affidavits of evidence-in-chief that will be raised at the hearing of the cause or matter and all the grounds thereof.

(3) An adjudication on the material objected to in affidavits of evidence-in-chief filed pursuant to an order of the Court should only be sought at the trial or hearing of the cause or matter for which the affidavits of evidence-in-chief were filed, and not before. If an adjudication is sought prior to the trial or hearing of the cause or matter, the application for the adjudication will be adjourned to be dealt with at the trial or hearing of the cause or matter, and the applicant may be ordered to pay the costs of the adjournment.

66. Request for Court interpreters

(1) Any party requiring the services of an interpreter of the Court for any of its witnesses must inform the Registrar in writing no later than 2 weeks before the day when the interpreter is required. This practice is to be followed for all fresh and adjourned hearings, whether in open Court or in chambers.

(2) Where an interpreter is required and the Registrar has not been so informed, any deployment of an interpreter will be subject to availability.

(3) The Request should contain the following information:

(a) the case number;

(b) the parties to the suit;

(c) the names of witness(es) requiring an interpreter;

(d) the Court/Chamber number;

(e) the stage of the proceedings (eg, fresh or adjourned hearing);

(f) the date and time of hearing (in the event the hearing is fixed for more than 1 day, the date and time on which the interpreter’s services are required);

(g) the number of days for which the interpreter’s services are required; and

(h) the language/dialect spoken by the witness(es) requiring the services of the interpreter.

(4) Where the services of the interpreter requested are no longer required prior to the start of the hearing, such as in the event of a settlement prior to the trial, the party who has requested the services of the interpreter must inform the Registrar in writing immediately.

(5) This Practice Direction shall apply to both civil and criminal proceedings, except that for civil proceedings, the requesting party must file a “Request for Hearing Administrative Support” through the Electronic Filing Service.

(6) For Tribunal / Simplified POHA Proceedings, the requesting party must file a “General Application” through the Community Justice and Tribunals System.

(7) The languages and dialects for which Court interpreters are provided may be found at https://www.judiciary.gov.sg/.

(8) For matters relating to a claim before the Employment Claims Tribunals, requests for interpreters for other languages will be conveyed to the Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management, and are subject to availability.

67. Use of expert witness (in cases other than simplified trials)

Court to approve use of expert evidence

(1) In any trial other than simplified trials, if one or more parties intend to rely on expert evidence, they shall inform the Court during the first Case Conference and shall, pursuant to Order 12, Rule 2(1) of the Rules of Court 2021, be prepared to address the Court on whether expert evidence will contribute materially to the determination of any issue that relates to scientific, technical or other specialised knowledge and whether such issue can be resolved by an agreed statement of facts or by submissions based on mutually agreed materials.

Compliance with Order 12 of the Rules of Court 2021

(2) Parties are to comply with Order 12 of the Rules of Court 2021 if they intend to adduce expert evidence for court proceedings.

(3) Parties must furnish to their intended expert witnesses, prior to any appointment, a copy of Form 19 of Appendix A1 to these Practice Directions.

68. Panel of experts

(1) For proceedings in which separate expert witnesses will be appointed by the parties, the parties must be prepared to address the Court (in a Case Conference or at trial) as to whether all or some of the experts should be ordered to testify as a panel (the “Expert Panel”).

(2) Parties may wish to consider the following factors in addressing the Court on whether an Expert Panel is appropriate:

(a) the number, nature and complexity of the issues which are or will be the subject of expert evidence (“expert issues”);

(b) the importance of the expert issues to the case as a whole;

(c) the number of experts, their areas of expertise and their respective levels of expertise; and

(d) the extent to which the use of an Expert Panel is likely to —

(i) assist in clarifying or understanding the expert issues; and/or

(ii) save time and/or costs at the hearing.

69. Production of record of hearing

Digital Audio Recording and Transcription Service for open Court Trials

(1) Pursuant to Order 15, Rule 11(6), the Registrar directs that there shall be audio recording of all open Court trials begun by Originating Claim through the digital audio recording and transcription service (“DART”).

Applications for Digital Audio Recording and Transcription Service

(2) Any party who intends to use the digital audio recording and transcription service for hearings other than open Court trials shall write to the Court hearing the proceedings for approval at least 12 working days before the commencement of the proceedings.

(3) The request for digital audio recording and transcription service shall be subject to the approval and/or directions of the Court hearing the proceedings, the approval of the Registrar, and the availability of the designated service provider to provide the service.

(4) Upon written notification of the approval by the Court hearing the proceedings, the requesting party shall submit to the designated service provider at least 8 working days before the commencement of the proceedings the application for digital audio recording and transcription service using the requisite form provided by the designated service provider. The requesting party shall also comply with any direction(s) that may be given by the Court hearing the proceedings, in respect of the party’s written request for digital audio recording and transcription service.

(5) The designated service provider shall inform the requesting party whether the application for digital audio recording and transcription service has received final approval by the Registrar.

(6) The cost of engaging the designated service provider shall be paid by parties directly to the service provider. The engagement of and payment to the designated service provider are subject to its terms and conditions.

(7) The party or parties engaging the designated service provider shall apply for sufficient copies of the transcript to be furnished to the Court hearing the proceedings and all other parties to the proceedings.

Proceedings where the Digital Audio Recording and Transcription Service is not used

(8) Pursuant to Order 15, Rule 11(7) of the Rules of Court 2021, the Registrar directs that, in proceedings where DART is not available or is not used, the notes of hearing shall be taken down by the judicial officer having conduct of the proceedings or the Court officer, whether through the use of a computer, electronic device or other means.

(9) The provisions of paragraph (8) are subject to any directions (including directions as to the means of producing transcripts) made by the judicial officer having conduct of the proceedings, or by the Registrar. Any transcript of the notes of hearing made pursuant to such directions shall, pursuant to Order 15, Rule 11(7) of the Rules of Court 2021, constitute the official record of hearing.

70. Certification of transcripts

Pursuant to Order 15, Rule 11(10) of the Rules of Court 2021, the Registrar hereby directs that the transcript(s) of any record of hearing or notes of hearing will be certified by the judicial officer having conduct of the proceedings, or in the absence of the judicial officer, any other judicial officer as directed by the Registrar.

71. Application for Court records for civil matters

(1) For proceedings which have been commenced using the Electronic Filing Service, every application for the Court records in those proceedings (including notes of evidence, certified transcripts or grounds of decision) must be made by way of filing the appropriate Request in the Electronic Filing Service.

(2) For proceedings commenced using the Community Justice and Tribunals System (“CJTS”), requests/applications for the Court records in those proceedings (including grounds of decision) must be made by way of filing, on CJTS, an Application for Record of Tribunal, Request for Documents or Request for Court Records (as the case may be).

(3) On approval, copies of the Court records will be made available upon payment of an appropriate fee.

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