Part III: Simplified Process for Civil Proceedings in the Magistrate’s Court
18. Overview of the simplified process
(1) The Practice Directions in this Part, unless otherwise stated, apply to —
(a) all civil proceedings begun on or after 1st November 2014 by writ which are before a Magistrate’s Court; and
(b) any civil proceedings begun on or after 1st November 2014 by writ —
(i) which are before a District Court; and
(ii) in which the parties thereto have, pursuant to Order 108, Rule 1 of the Rules of Court (Cap. 322, R 5), consented to the application of Order 108 to those proceedings by filing their consent in Form 233 of Appendix A of the Rules of Court.
(2) The simplified process provided for by Order 108 is meant to facilitate the fair, expedient and inexpensive determination of all such proceedings in a manner which is proportionate to –
(a) the amount of the claim;
(b) the number of parties;
(c) the complexity of the issues;
(d) the amount of costs that is likely to be incurred by each party; and
(e) the nature of the action.
(3) An important feature of the simplified process is the upfront discovery under Order 108, Rule 2, which requires parties to serve a list of documents together with their pleadings, to allow the parties to have the fullest possible particulars of each other’s case in order to facilitate effective negotiations towards an early resolution of the dispute between the parties without a trial.
(4) The Case Management Conference (CMC) provided for by Order 108, Rule 3 will be central to the simplified process. At the CMC, the Court will endeavour to assist the parties in narrowing the issues between them, managing any interlocutory matters and facilitating an early resolution of the dispute.
(5) The CMC will not apply to non-injury motor accident [NIMA] claims and personal injury [PI] claims, including any action where the pleadings contain an allegation of a negligent act or omission in the course of medical or dental treatment. In this regard, Practice Direction 20 (Case management conference [CMC]) does not apply to NIMA and PI claims. Such claims will be dealt with following the pre-action protocols and practice directions issued by Registrar. Please refer to Practice Directions 35, 37, 38 and 39 for more information.
(6) Where a case cannot be resolved amicably, the Court will give directions for a simplified trial unless the circumstances warrant otherwise.
19. Upfront discovery
(1) Prior to the service of the pleading on the other party, a party shall file a list of documents using Form 234 of Appendix A of the Rules of Court (Cap. 322, R 5).
Order 108 Rule 2(4) of the Rules of Court states that:
“The list of documents referred to in paragraph (3) —
(a) must be filed in Form 234;
(b) must set out —
(i) every document referred to in the pleading which the list accompanies;
(ii) every document on which the party serving the list relies or will rely; and
(iii) any other document which could —
(A) adversely affect that party’s own case;
(B) adversely affect another party’s case; or
(C) support another party’s case; and
(c) must set out the documents in a convenient order and as shortly as possible, but also describe each document sufficiently to enable the document to be identified.”
(2) Every pleading served by a party shall be accompanied by a list of documents (filed separately from the pleading) using Form 234 as set out in Order 108, Rule 2(4) of the Rules of Court (Cap. 322, R 5). The list of documents filed shall be served together with the relevant pleading on the other party within the time limited for the service of such pleading.
(3) For the avoidance of doubt, in any case where further and better particulars of a pleading are filed which refer to or plead new documents, the party shall file a supplementary list of documents.
(4) A request by a party for a copy of any document on the other party’s list of documents shall be made in writing in accordance with Order 108, Rule 2(5). The party served with such a request for documents shall provide the documents within 7 days of the request.
(5) Where an applicant for an order under Order 108, Rule 2(9) for the discovery or production of documents did not make a prior request by letter for the documents he requires, the Court may refuse to make the order unless the applicant shows sufficient reasons for not making the prior request by letter.
20. Case management conference [CMC]
(1) The provisions of this Practice Direction apply to all cases begun on or after 1 November 2014 by writ in a Magistrate’s Court, except the following:
(a) any non-injury motor accident (NIMA) claims; and
(b) any personal injury (PI) claims (including any action where the pleadings contain an allegation of a negligent act or omission in the course of medical or dental treatment).
(2) In accordance with Order 108 Rule 3(8) of the Rules of Court (Cap. 322, R 5), the cases referred to in paragraph (1)(a) and (b) will be dealt with following the pre-action protocols and practice directions issued by Registrar. Please refer to Practice Directions 35, 37, 38 and 39 for more information.
(3) To facilitate the management of cases at an early stage and to encourage parties to consider how a case may be resolved without trial (including through the use of negotiation, the Court Dispute Resolution (CDR) process or any appropriate Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) process), a case management conference (CMC) as provided for by Order 108, Rule 3(1) shall be convened within 50 days after the Defence has been filed.
(4) Parties shall be notified in writing of the CMC within 8 days of the filing of the Defence.
(5) Where all parties in a case begun on or after 1 November 2014 by writ in a District Court file their consent in Form 233 of Appendix A of the Rules of Court for the simplified process in Order 108 to apply to their case, the parties shall file a Request via the Electronic Filing Service for a Case Management Conference to be convened.
Before the CMC
(6) The parties should negotiate with a view to resolving the matter at the earliest opportunity once they are notified of the CMC date.
(7) Seven (7) days prior to the first CMC, the parties shall
(a) exchange proposals in writing using Form 2 of Appendix A to these Practice Directions, on a “without prejudice save as to costs” basis for the amicable resolution of the matter; and
(b) file through the Electronic Filing Service —
(i) Form 3 of Appendix A to these Practice Directions stating the list of issues in the dispute and the list of witnesses they intend to call in support of their case; and
(ii) the CDR/ADR Form (Form 7 of Appendix A to these Practice Directions) in order to facilitate a considered decision on the appropriate CDR/ADR options. The CDR/ADR Form must be read and completed by each party. If there is a solicitor acting for the party, the solicitor must also complete the Form.
(8) In order for the CMC to be effective and fruitful, the solicitor having conduct of the matter should take all necessary instructions from their clients to achieve an amicable resolution of the matter (including exploring the use of any appropriate CDR or ADR process), and comply with all directions (including those at paragraph (7) above), prior to attending the first CMC session.
(9) The CDR/ADR processes available include:
(a) Mediation by the State Courts’ Court Dispute Resolution Cluster (CDRC);
(b) Conciliation by the CDRC;
(c) Neutral Evaluation by the CDRC;
(d) Court Dispute Resolution process by the CDRC under Practice Direction 39A for all claims in negligence;
(e) Arbitration under the Law Society’s Arbitration Scheme; or
(f) Mediation by private mediation service providers.
(10) A party may file a Request via the Electronic Filing Service for an early CMC date prior to receiving the CMC notification mentioned in paragraph (4). All parties shall comply with paragraphs (6) and (7) before the CMC.
At the CMC
(11) At the CMC, the Court may manage the case by, inter alia, —
(a) encouraging the parties to co-operate in the conduct of the proceedings;
(b) assisting parties to identify and narrow the issues at an early stage;
(c) dealing with any interlocutory applications and issues, including giving such directions for discovery as may be necessary;
(d) considering with the parties whether the likely benefits of any step proposed to be taken by a party would justify the costs that will be incurred;
(e) encouraging the parties to negotiate to resolve the issues and/or case, and/or to undergo the appropriate CDR or ADR process, as well as facilitating the use of such CDR or ADR process having regard to Order 108, Rule 3(3) of the Rules of Court;
(f) helping the parties to settle the whole or part of the case;
(g) giving such directions as the Court thinks fit in order to ensure that the case progresses expeditiously (including directions for the list of witnesses to be called for trial, the appointment of a single joint expert where appropriate, the exchange and filing of Affidavits of Evidence in Chief and setting the matter down for trial);
(h) fixing timelines to manage and control the progress of the case; and
(i) taking such other action or making such other direction as the Court thinks appropriate in the circumstances including costs sanctions or unless orders.
(12) The purpose of the CMC is for the court to consider all available options in the case jointly with the parties. It is therefore necessary that the solicitor in charge of the case for that party (i.e. the solicitor who has been handling the case for that party and who is familiar with it) attend the CMC. Solicitors for both parties shall attend the CMC.
(13) The Court may require a party who is represented by solicitors to attend the CMC.
(14) Where a party has filed a Summons for Direction (SFD), the Court may also deal with the SFD at the CMC.
(15) In order that parties benefit fully from the process of the CMC, adjournment(s) of any CMC will not be granted without good reason. Consent of both parties to the adjournment, without more, is not considered sufficient reason for an adjournment.
(16) Where interlocutory judgment has been entered on the issue of liability only, leaving the damages to be assessed, the Court shall convene a case management conference after the filing of the Notice of Appointment for Assessment of Damages (NAAD). Such a case management conference shall be known as the Assessment of Damages Case Management Conference (AD-CMC). Paragraphs (10) to (15) above shall apply as far as possible with the necessary modifications to ensure that the matter progresses expeditiously. Where an amicable resolution on quantum is not possible, the assessment of damages hearing will proceed expeditiously. The provisions of Practice Direction 40 (Assessment of damages) on assessment of damages shall continue to apply. The CDR/ADR Form (Form 7 of Appendix A to these Practice Directions) is not required to be filed prior to the AD-CMC.
22. Simplified trials and assessment of damages
(1) The duration for a simplified trial under Order 108, Rule 5 of the Rules of Court (Cap. 322, R 5) or an assessment of damages hearing in any case to which Order 108 applies shall generally not exceed 1 day.
(2) The opening statement of each party for use in a simplified trial shall, as far as possible, comply with the format in Form 4A of Appendix A to these Practice Directions.
(3) For NIMA and PI cases, the opening statements shall, as far as possible, comply with Form 4B of Appendix A to these Practice Directions.
(4) Forms 9D, 9E and 9F in Appendix A to these Practice Directions, as appropriate, shall continue to apply in respect of the Joint Opening Statement for use in an assessment of damages hearing.
(5) The provisions of Practice Directions 60 (Use of Expert Witness (in cases other than Non-Injury Motor Accident Claims)) and 71 (Documents for use in trials in open Court), as appropriate, shall continue to apply to simplified trials.