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Part VI: Alternative Dispute Resolution

35. Overview of Court Dispute Resolution (CDR) for civil cases

(1) This Part of the Practice Directions focuses on CDR for civil disputes only.

(2) Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) should be considered at the earliest possible stage. Court-driven ADR services give the parties the opportunity to resolve their disputes faster and more economically compared to determination at trial. These services are collectively termed “Court Dispute Resolution” (CDR) and, subject to the exception stated in paragraph (7), are provided by the Court for free. CDR sessions are convened under Order 34A of the Rules of Court (Cap. 322 R 5), which empowers the Court to convene pre-trial conferences for the purpose of the “just, expeditious and economical disposal of the cause or matter”.

(3) In addition to CDR sessions provided by the Courts, the Courts also encourage parties to consider using other ADR procedures, including the following:

(a) Mediation at the Singapore Mediation Centre or Singapore International Mediation Centre;

(b) Mediation under the Law Society Mediation Scheme and/or Arbitration under the Law Society Arbitration Scheme; and

(c) Mediation and/or Arbitration by private service providers.

Processes used for Court Dispute Resolution sessions

(4) CDR is provided by the State Courts Centre for Dispute Resolution. There are 3 processes used —

(a) Mediation;

(b) Conciliation; and

(c) Neutral Evaluation.

(Solicitors may refer to the State Courts’ website at http://www.statecourts.gov.sg for more information on these processes.)

(5) Pursuant to Order 34A Rule 7 of the Rules of Court, no communication made in the course of a CDR session shall be disclosed to the Court conducting the trial of the action or proceedings if such communication has been stated by any of the parties to be confidential or without prejudice, or has been marked by the Judge at the CDR session as being confidential or without prejudice.

(6) If the parties are unable to resolve their dispute at the CDR session, the Judge will give the necessary directions for the action to proceed to trial. The action will be tried by another Judge other than the Judge conducting the CDR session.

(7) CDR sessions are provided by the State Courts Centre for Dispute Resolution without any fee, with the following exception set out in Order 90A Rule 5A of the Rules of Court (Cap. 322 R 5):

“(1) Subject to this Rule, a fee of $250 is payable by each party in a case in a District Court (regardless of whether the case is commenced before, on or after 1 May 2015) for all Court ADR services that are provided in the case.

(2) The Court ADR fee is payable when the first Court ADR service to be provided in the case, pursuant to either of the following, is fixed:

(a) a request made on or after 1 May 2015 for the Court ADR service by any party in the case;

(b) a referral on or after 1 May 2015 by the Court or the Registrar.

(3) No Court ADR fee is payable in any of the following actions:

(a) any non-injury motor accident action (as defined in Order 59 Appendix 2 Part V);

(b) any action for damages for death or personal injuries;

(c) any action under the Protection from Harassment Act 2014 (Act 17 of 2014).

(4) The Registrar may, in any case, waive or defer the payment of the whole or any part of the Court ADR fee on such terms and conditions as the Registrar deems fit.”

(8) Each party who has requested for CDR or has been referred for CDR pursuant to Order 90A Rule 5A shall pay the fee of $250 before proceeding for the scheduled CDR session. Details concerning the payment of these fees are provided in the relevant correspondence by the State Courts to the parties.

Presumption of ADR for all cases

(9) A “presumption of Alternative Dispute Resolution” applies to all civil cases. For this purpose, the Court —

(a) encourages parties to consider ADR options as a “first stop”, at the earliest possible stage; and

(b) will, as a matter of course, refer appropriate matters to CDR or other forms of ADR.

Presumption of CDR for non-injury motor accident (NIMA) claims, personal injury claims and medical negligence claims

(10) The following cases will be fixed for CDR:

(a) all non-injury motor accident (NIMA), personal injury cases and actions arising out of an alleged negligent act or omission in the course of medical or dental treatment (“medical negligence claims”) that are filed in the Magistrate’s Court and the District Court; and

(b) all motor accident cases (whether or not involving any claim for personal injuries) and actions for personal injuries arising out of an industrial accident that are commenced in the High Court on or after 1st December 2016 and transferred to the District Court (references to NIMA and personal injury cases would hereinafter include these cases).

(11) The Court will send a notice to the solicitors fixing the date of the first CDR session within 8 weeks of the filing of the memorandum of appearance.

(12) The procedure and protocols set out in Practice Directions 37 (Non-injury Motor Accident (NIMA) Claims) and 38 (Personal Injury Claims) shall apply, as appropriate, to NIMA and personal injury claims, respectively.

(13) The procedure and protocols set out in Practice Direction 39 (Medical Negligence Claims) shall apply, as appropriate, to medical negligence claims.

Presumption of ADR for other cases (excluding NIMA, personal injury and medical negligence cases):

(14) All cases commenced by writ on or after 1st November 2014 in a Magistrate’s Court and any case commenced by writ on or after 1st November 2014 in a District Court (where parties have filed their consent in Form 233 of Appendix A of the Rules of Court for Order 108 to apply) will be subject to the simplified process under Order 108 of the Rules of Court (Cap. 322, R 5).

(15) The Court will convene a case management conference within 50 days of the filing of the Defence pursuant to Order 108 Rule 3 of the Rules of Court. At the case management conference, the Court may refer cases for CDR or other forms of ADR, where —

“(a) the parties consent to the case being referred for resolution by the ADR process; or

(b) the Court is of the view that doing so would facilitate the resolution of the dispute between the parties.”

(16) Practice Direction 20 (Case management conference [CMC]) sets out details of the case management conference.

B. Cases that are not subject to the simplified process

(17) In all other cases commenced in a Magistrate’s Court before 1st November 2014, and all cases commenced in a District Court on or after 1st April 2014, the Court will fix a Pre-Trial Conference (PTC) within 4 months after the filing of the writ if —

(a) the Defence has been filed;

(b) no summons for directions or application for summary judgment, striking out, stay, transfer or consolidation of proceedings has been taken out for the case; and

(c) no CDR session has been fixed.

(18) Such cases shall be automatically referred by the Court for CDR or other forms of ADR during the PTC, unless the parties opt out of CDR/ADR.

(19) The procedure for referral to these CDR/ADR options is set out in Practice Direction 36 (Mode of referral to CDR/ADR etc.).

(20) Parties are not required to file a Request for CDR in the following cases:

(a) all NIMA, personal injury and medical negligence claims as the parties are automatically notified by the Court to attend CDR;

(b) all cases commenced by writ on or after 1st November 2014 in a Magistrate’s Court which are subject to the simplified process in Order 108 (excluding NIMA, personal injury and medical negligence claims) as the Court will deal with matters concerning CDR/ADR at the case management conference. Further details are set out in Part III of these Practice Directions; and

(c) all cases commenced by writ before 1st November 2014 in a Magistrate’s Court, and all cases commenced in a District Court as the Court will refer the appropriate cases for CDR during PTCs or summonses for directions.

(21) A Request for CDR may be filed via the Electronic Filing Service when the parties wish to attempt CDR at an earlier stage.

Request for Skype Mediation

(22) Parties can request for mediation to be conducted in the State Courts Centre for Dispute Resolution with one party appearing via Skype if the following requirements are satisfied:

(a) the overseas party satisfies either of the following criteria:

(i) the overseas party (not being a corporation) is unable to travel to Singapore on certified medical grounds, or provides other evidence of inability to travel to Singapore for mediation; or

(ii) the overseas party is a foreign incorporated company with no local presence and/or representative;

(b) the party in Singapore consents to the application for mediation via Skype; and

(c) the overseas party is represented by solicitors in Singapore.

(23) A request for Skype mediation must made by filing a Request for CDR via the Electronic Filing Service, and annexing a Request for Skype Mediation (Form 8 in Appendix A to these Practice Directions) and relevant supporting documents in PDF format via the “paper clip” feature embedded in the Request for CDR.

(24) Both Part A and Part B of the Request for Skype Mediation have to be completed and endorsed by the relevant parties at the time of filing.

(25) Skype mediation proceedings or any part thereof shall not be recorded on video, audio or any other form. The attention of parties is also drawn to Order 38A Rule 4 of the Rules of Court.

Request for adjournment of CDR session

(26) A dedicated time slot is set aside for each CDR session. In order to minimise wastage of time and resources, any request for adjournment of a CDR session shall be made early. A request to adjourn a CDR session —

(a) for NIMA and personal injury claims shall be made not less than 2 working days before the date of the CDR session; and

(b) for all other cases shall be made not less than 7 working days before the date of the CDR session.

(27) A request for an adjournment of a CDR session shall be made only by filing a “Request for Refixing/Vacation of Hearing Dates” via the Electronic Filing Service. The applicant shall obtain the consent of the other parties to the adjournment, and list the dates that are unsuitable for all parties.

Sanctions for failure to make early request for adjournment, lateness or absence

(28) Where any party is absent without a valid reason for the CDR session, the Court may exercise its powers under Order 34A Rule 6 of the Rules of Court to “dismiss such action or proceedings or strike out the defence or counterclaim or enter judgment or make such order as it thinks fit”.

(29) Where any party is late for the CDR session, this conduct may be taken into account by the Court when making subsequent costs orders pursuant to Order 59 Rule 5(1)(c) of the Rules of Court, which states —

“The Court in exercising its discretion as to costs shall, to such extent, if any, as may be appropriate in the circumstances, take into account the parties’ conduct in relation to any attempt at resolving the cause or matter by mediation or any other means of dispute resolution.”

36. Mode of referral to CDR/ADR and consideration of CDR/ADR options: Case Management Conference, Pre-Trial Conference and Summons for Directions

(1) This Practice Direction applies to all civil cases except non-injury motor accident (NIMA) claims and personal injury claims.

Case management conference for cases subject to the simplified process in Order 108 of the Rules of Court

(2) All cases commenced by writ on or after 1st November 2014 in a Magistrate’s Court and any case commenced by writ on or after 1st November 2014 in a District Court (where parties have filed their consent in Form 233 of Appendix A of the Rules of Court (Cap. 322, R 5) for Order 108 to apply) are subject to the simplified process set out under Order 108 of the Rules of Court (Cap. 322, R 5). The Court will convene a case management conference within 50 days of the filing of the Defence pursuant to Order 108, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court. Practice Direction 20 (Case management conference [CMC]) sets out the procedure for the case management conference.

(3) At the case management conference, the Court may refer cases for the most appropriate mode of ADR, where

(a) the parties consent to the case being referred for resolution by the ADR process; or

(b) where the Court is of the view that doing so would facilitate the resolution of the dispute between the parties.

(4) To facilitate the Court’s decision concerning CDR/ADR options, all the parties and their solicitors must read and complete the CDR/ADR Form (Form 7 in Appendix A to these Practice Directions) prior to the case management conference. The CDR/ADR Form must be filed through the Electronic Filing Service not less than 7 working days before the Case Management Conference under the document name “CDR/ADR Form”. No court fees will be charged for the filing of the CDR/ADR Form.

Pre-trial conference and summons for directions for cases not subject to the simplified process

(5) Paragraphs (6) to (12) below do not apply to non-injury motor accident, personal injury and medical negligence claims. They apply to all cases, not subject to the simplified process in Order 108, that are

(a) commenced before 1st November 2014 in a Magistrate’s Court; or

(b) commenced in a District Court on or after 1st April 2014.

(6) To encourage the use of Court Dispute Resolution (CDR)/Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) at an early stage, the Court will convene a Pre-Trial Conference (PTC) within 4 months after the writ is filed for every case where —

(a) the Defence has been filed;

(b) no Summons for Directions (SFD) or application for summary judgment, striking out, stay, transfer or consolidation of proceedings has been taken out for the case; and

(c) no CDR session has been fixed,

except that the parties will not be asked to attend a PTC in the event that they have earlier filed an SFD application.

(7) Parties may file an SFD application prior to the PTC and file a request to vacate the PTC. Practice Direction 26 (Summonses for Directions) applies accordingly.

(8) The solicitors for all the parties shall be present at the PTC. The parties need not attend the PTC.

(9) The Judge hearing the PTC will give the necessary directions to facilitate the management of the case. The Judge may also recommend the appropriate mode of CDR/ADR. To facilitate a considered decision on the CDR/ADR options, the parties and their solicitors must read and complete the CDR/ADR Form (Form 7 in Appendix A to these Practice Directions) prior to the PTC. A party who is not represented shall also complete the relevant sections of the CDR/ADR Form.

(10) The parties must file the CDR/ADR Form through the Electronic Filing Service not less than 7 working days before the PTC under the document name “CDR/ADR Form”. No court fees will be charged for the filing of the CDR/ADR Form.

(11) All cases shall be automatically referred by the Court for the most appropriate mode of CDR/ADR during the PTC unless any or all of the parties opt out of CDR/ADR. Any party who wishes to opt out should indicate his/her decision in the CDR/ADR Form.

(12) Where the Judge is of the view that CDR/ADR is suitable, and the party/parties have opted out of CDR/ADR for reasons deemed to be unsatisfactory, this conduct may be taken into account by the Court when making subsequent costs orders pursuant to Order 59 Rule 5(1)(c) of the Rules of Court, which states:

The Court in exercising its discretion as to costs shall, to such extent, if any, as may be appropriate in the circumstances, take into account the parties’ conduct in relation to any attempt at resolving the cause or matter by mediation or any other means of dispute resolution.

37. Non-injury Motor Accident (NIMA) Claims

(1) Compliance with NIMA pre-action protocol

(a) In this Practice Direction, “Form” means the appropriate Form in Appendix A to these Practice Directions.

(b) Claimants in all NIMA claims must comply with the NIMA pre-action protocol set out in Appendix C to these Practice Directions (“NIMA pre-action protocol”) before commencing court proceedings. For NIMA claims where action is contemplated in the High Court and which is to be transferred to the District Court, claimants must comply with the NIMA pre-action protocol for motor accidents occurring on or after 1st December 2016, before commencing court proceedings.

(c) As stated in the NIMA pre-action protocol, for NIMA claims where the quantum of damages claimed is below $3,000 before apportionment of liability and excluding survey fees, interests, costs and disbursements (“NIMA claims below $3,000”), claimants must lodge their claims with the Financial Industry Disputes Resolution Centre Ltd (“FIDReC”) before commencing court proceedings. FIDReC will manage these claims, generally by applying the processes of mediation and where necessary, adjudication, in accordance with its Terms of Reference.

(d) All parties must comply in substance and spirit with the terms of the NIMA pre-action protocol. A breach by one party will not exempt the other parties in the claim from following the protocol so far as they are able.

(e) In exercising its discretion and powers as to costs as well as under section 116 of the Evidence Act (Cap. 97), the Court will have regard to the extent to which the protocol has been complied with by the parties. If non-compliance has led to unnecessary costs and interest payable, the Court may make the following orders:

(i) an order disallowing a defaulting party his costs, or some part of his costs, even if he succeeds;

(ii) an order that the defaulting party pay the other party or parties their costs of the proceedings, or part of those costs;

(iii) an order that the defaulting party pay those costs on an indemnity basis.

(f) For NIMA claims below $3,000, the Court will consider the following situations as non-compliance with the NIMA pre-action protocol:

(i) commencement of Court proceedings before adjudication of the claim by FIDReC;

(ii) a finding by the Court that the quantum of damages before apportionment of liability is less than $3,000 and the pleaded claim is for an amount exceeding $3,000;

(iii) the claimant has failed to obtain a Court judgment that is more favourable than the adjudication award made by FIDReC.

(g) Where the claimant in a NIMA claim below $3,000 has commenced Court proceedings before the claim is adjudicated by FIDReC, the Court may stay the action under Order 34A of the Rules of Court to require the claimant to lodge and proceed with his claim at FIDReC.

(h) In all cases to which the NIMA pre-action protocol applies, the Court will not impose sanctions where there are good reasons for non-compliance.

(2) Court Dispute Resolution sessions for all NIMA claims

(a) For all NIMA cases that are filed in the Magistrate’s Court, the District Court and in the High Court on or after 1st December 2016 and transferred to the District Court, the Court will convene the first CDR session under Order 34A of the Rules of Court within 8 weeks after the filing of the memorandum of appearance. Solicitors must comply with the relevant CDR guidelines in Appendix B to these Practice Directions when preparing for and attending CDR sessions for NIMA claims.

(b) Parties may expect, generally, 3 sessions of CDR. If the matter is not settled at the third session, the Court may make such orders or give such directions as it thinks fit for the just, expeditious and economical disposal of the action, including directions for the filing and exchange of Affidavits of Evidence-in-Chief, appointment of a single joint expert (for Magistrate’s Court writs filed on or after 1 November 2014 to which Order 108 of the Rules of Court applies) and setting the action down for trial.

Recording of terms of settlement or judgment

(c) If the parties settle the issue of liability or quantum or both, they must submit Form 9I to the Court to record settlement terms or to enter a consent judgment.

(d) Where the solicitors record a consent interlocutory judgment before the Court, they must submit, as appropriate, an “Application for Directions under Order 37” (Form 9C), or an “Application for Directions under Order 37 of the Rules of Court for Magistrate’s Court Case Fixed for Simplified AD Pursuant to Order 108” (Form 9C(A) for Magistrate’s Court writs filed on or after 1st November 2014 ). The Court shall give the necessary directions under Order 37 of the Rules of Court, including directions for the appointment of a single joint expert pursuant to Order 108, Rule 5(3).

Forms

(e) Soft copies of the “Liability Indication Form (NIMA and PIMA Claims)” (Form 9A), the “Application for Directions under Order 37” (Form 9C), the “Application for Directions under Order 37 of the Rules of Court for Magistrate’s Court Case Fixed for Simplified AD Pursuant to Order 108” (Form 9C(A)) and form for “Recording Settlement/Entering Judgment by Consent” (Form 9I) may be downloaded at http://www.statecourts.gov.sg.

(3) Benchmark rates for cost of rental and loss of use

(a) Where the dispute involves a claim for damages in respect of a motor accident for cost of rental of a replacement vehicle and/or loss of use, parties shall have regard to the Benchmark Rates for Cost of Rental and Loss of Use at Appendix F of these Practice Directions.

(b) The Benchmark Rates are meant to serve as a starting point and adjustments may be made according to the circumstances of each case.

38. Personal Injury Claims

(1) Compliance with Personal Injury Claims Pre-Action Protocol

(a) In this Practice Direction —

“Form” means the appropriate Form in Appendix A to these Practice Directions;

“personal injury claims” —

(i) refers generally to all actions for personal injuries including motor vehicle accidents (“PIMA”) and industrial accidents, but excludes actions where the pleadings contain an allegation of a negligent act or omission in the course of medical or dental treatment; and

(ii) where action is contemplated or commenced in the High Court which is to be transferred to the District Court, refers to PIMA and industrial accident claims only.

(b) Claimants in all personal injury claims where action is contemplated in the Magistrate’s Court or the District Court must comply with the Pre-Action Protocol for Personal Injury Claims at Appendix E to these Practice Directions (“Personal Injury pre-action protocol”) before commencing court proceedings. For all PIMA and industrial accident claims where action is contemplated in the High Court and which is to be transferred to the District Court, claimants must comply with the Personal Injury pre-action protocol for accidents occurring on or after 1st December 2016 before commencing court proceedings.

(c) All parties must comply in substance and spirit with the terms of the protocol. A breach by one party will not exempt the other parties in the claim from following the protocol so far as they are able.

(d) In exercising its discretion and powers as to costs as well as under section 116 of the Evidence Act (Cap. 97), the Court will have regard to the extent to which the protocol has been complied with by the parties. If non-compliance has led to unnecessary costs and interest payable, the Court may make the following orders:

(i) an order disallowing a defaulting party his costs, or some part of his costs, even if he succeeds;

(ii) an order that the defaulting party pay the other party or parties their costs of the proceedings, or part of those costs;

(iii) an order that the defaulting party pay those costs on an indemnity basis.

(e) The Court will not impose sanctions where there are good reasons for non-compliance.

(2) Court Dispute Resolution sessions for all personal injury claims

(a) For all personal injury claims that are filed in the Magistrate’s Court and the District Court, and for all PIMA and industrial accident claims that are filed in the High Court on or after 1st December 2016 and transferred to the District Court, the Court will convene the first CDR session under Order 34A of the Rules of Court within 8 weeks after the filing of the memorandum of appearance. Solicitors must comply with the relevant CDR guidelines in Appendix B to these Practice Directions when preparing for and attending CDR sessions for personal injury claims.

(b) During a CDR session, the Court may vary the automatic directions provided under Order 25, Rule 8 of the Rules of Court to facilitate settlement of the dispute, pursuant to its powers under O 34A, Rule 1(1) of the Rules of Court.

Recording of terms of settlement or judgment

(c) If the parties settle the issue of liability or quantum or both, they must submit Form 9I to the Court to record settlement terms or to enter a consent judgment.

(d) Where solicitors record interlocutory judgment before the Court whether by consent or after trial on liability, they must submit, as appropriate, an “Application for Directions under Order 37” (Form 9C), or an “Application for Directions under Order 37 of the Rules of Court for Magistrate’s Court Case Fixed for Simplified AD Pursuant to Order 108” (Form 9C(A) for Magistrate’s Court cases filed on or after 1 November 2014). The Court shall give the necessary directions under Order 37 of the Rules of Court, including directions for the appointment of a single joint expert pursuant to Order 108 rule 5(3). Alternatively, pursuant to Practice Direction 40 (Assessment of damages), where solicitors wish to request a fast track ADCDR session after recording an interlocutory judgment, they shall file Form 9G in place of Form 9C.

Forms

(e) Soft copies of the “Liability Indication Form (NIMA and PIMA Claims)” (Form 9A), “Liability Indication Form (Industrial Accident Claims)” (Form 9A(A)), “Quantum Indication Form” (Form 9B), the “Application for Directions under Order 37” (Form 9C), the “Application for Directions under Order 37 of the Rules of Court for Magistrate’s Court Case Fixed for Simplified AD Pursuant to Order 108” (Form 9C(A)), “Fast Track ADCDR Application Form” (Form 9G) and the form for “Recording Settlement/Entering Judgment by Consent” (Form 9I) may be downloaded at http://www.statecourts.gov.sg.

39. Medical Negligence Claims

(1) Compliance with Protocol for Medical Negligence Claims

(a) Parties in medical negligence claims must comply with the terms of the Protocol for Medical Negligence Claims at Appendix D of these Practice Directions (“the protocol”) both in substance and spirit. A breach by one party will not exempt the other parties in the claim from following the protocol so far as they are able.

(b) In exercising its discretion as to costs, the Court will consider compliance with the protocol. If non-compliance with the protocol has led to unnecessary costs, the Court may make the following orders:

(i) an order disallowing a defaulting party his costs, or some part of his costs, even if he succeeds;

(ii) an order that the defaulting party pay the other party or parties their costs of the proceedings, or part of those costs; and

(iii) an order that the defaulting party pay those costs on an indemnity basis.

(c) The Court will consider compliance with the protocol in exercising its discretion when deciding the amount of interest payable and may make the following orders:

(i) an order awarding a successful party who has complied with the protocol interest from an earlier period; and

(ii) an order depriving a successful party who has not complied with the protocol interest in respect of such period as may be specified.

(2) Case management

The Court will send a notice to solicitors fixing the date of the first Court Dispute Resolution (CDR) session within 2 weeks after the memorandum of appearance is filed in a medical negligence claim, to facilitate discussion and resolution of the claim.

40. Assessment of damages

(1) Assessment of Damages Court Dispute Resolution (ADCDR) Conference and Pre-Assessment of Damages Conference (PADC)

(a) For all personal injury cases excluding medical negligence cases, the Court will convene the first conference under Order 34A of the Rules of Court (Cap. 322, R 5) generally within 4 weeks after the filing of the notice of appointment for assessment of damages. The Court will conduct an Assessment of Damages Court Dispute Resolution (ADCDR) session where it will give an indication on the quantum of damages.

(b) Parties may expect, generally, 3 sessions for ADCDR. If there is no settlement, the Court may direct the matter for assessment of damages hearing or make such orders or give such directions as it thinks fit for the just, expeditious and economical disposal of the matter. An adjournment of an ADCDR session shall be granted only for good reasons, for example, the solicitor is engaged in a trial or other hearing in the High Court or the State Courts, is away on in camp training, overseas, or on medical leave.

(c) The solicitors for all parties shall submit the “Quantum Indication Form” (see Form 9B in Appendix A to these Practice Directions) to the Court together with any supporting medical report(s) of the Plaintiff at the first ADCDR session and the Court will give an indication on quantum of damages.

(d) For all other types of cases, including Non-Injury Motor Accident (NIMA) cases, the Court will convene a Pre-Assessment of Damages Conference (PADC) under Order 34A of the Rules of Court generally within 4 weeks after the filing of the notice of appointment for assessment of damages. At the PADC, the Court may direct the matter for assessment of damages hearing or make such orders or give such directions as it thinks fit for the just, expeditious and economical disposal of the matter.

(e) A failure to attend a conference or comply with any Court directions may result in the Court dismissing the action or striking out the defence or counterclaim or entering judgment or making such order as it thinks fit. Any judgment, order or direction made against an absent party may be set aside or varied by the Court pursuant to Order 34A rules 1(4) and 6(2) of the Rules of Court.

(2) Directions to be given for Assessment of Damages Hearing

(a) When an assessment of damages hearing date is given at a conference, the parties will be directed to do the following:

(i) to file and serve the Bundle(s) of Documents (whether agreed or otherwise) within 4 weeks from the date of the ADCDR/PADC;

(ii) the Plaintiff shall, within 3 weeks prior to the date of the assessment of damages hearing, serve on the Defendant a draft Joint Opening Statement (referred to in sub-paragraph (b) below) with the Plaintiff’s portions duly completed;

(iii) the Defendant shall, within 2 weeks prior to the date of the assessment of damages hearing, serve on the Plaintiff the draft Joint Opening Statement with the Defendant’s portions duly completed; and

(iv) the Plaintiff shall, within 1 week prior to the date of the assessment of damages hearing, file and serve the duly completed Joint Opening Statement.

(b) The format to be used for the Joint Opening Statement shall be as follows:

(i) Joint Opening Statement Assessment of Damages for Personal Injury Claims (including dependency Claims) — Form 9D of Appendix A to these Practice Directions;

(ii) Joint Opening Statement Assessment of Damages for Non-Injury Motor Accident Claims — Form 9E of Appendix A to these Practice Directions; and

(iii) Joint Opening Statement Assessment of Damages for General Claims excluding Personal Injury and Non-Injury Motor Accident Claims — Form 9F of Appendix A to these Practice Directions.

(c) The Joint Opening Statement is to be filed via the Electronic Filing Service. The directions and Forms shall be modified accordingly if there are more than 2 parties in the proceedings.

(3) Fast Track ADCDR sessions

(a) The Court generally will only convene an ADCDR session after the Plaintiff has filed the notice of appointment for assessment of damages. Parties can however make an application for a fast track ADCDR session to be convened after interlocutory judgment has been entered and before affidavits of evidence-in-chief are exchanged if the following requirements are satisfied:

(i) all medical reports of the Plaintiff required for a considered indication on quantum of damages are available to all the parties;

(ii) the Plaintiff has already attended medical re-examination by the Defendant’s or Third Party’s medical expert, or the Defendant or  Third Party confirms that no medical re-examination of the  Plaintiff is required;

(iii) no indication on quantum for loss of future earnings and/or loss of earning capacity is required; and

(iv) all parties consent to such an application being made.

(b) An application for the fast track ADCDR session shall be made by filing, via the Electronic Filing Service, a “Request for Fast track ADCDR” in Form 9G in Appendix A to these Practice Directions in Portable Document Format (PDF).

(c) Form 9G shall only be filed with the consent of all parties involved in the proceedings. When the Plaintiff or his solicitor writes to the Defendant or his solicitor and any other parties in the proceedings for his/their consent, and the Plaintiff does not receive any reply of his letter from any party within 14 days, the Defendant and/or the other parties shall be deemed to have consented for the matter to be referred to a fast track ADCDR session.

(4) Request for adjournment of ADCDR/PADC by consent

Any request for adjournment of ADCDR shall be made not less than 2 working days before the date of ADCDR. A request for an adjournment of an ADCDR session shall be made only by filing a “Request for Re-fixing / Vacation of Hearing Dates” via the Electronic Filing Service. The applicant shall obtain the consent of the other parties to the adjournment, and list the dates that are unsuitable for all the parties.

41. Mediation

Opening statements

(1) Each party must submit to the State Courts Centre for Dispute Resolution, and serve on all other parties, a written opening statement not less than 2 working days before the date of the first mediation session. The opening statement shall be submitted in hard copy and not filed via the Electronic Filing Service.  

(2) The opening statement shall be in the format prescribed in Form 9J in Appendix A to these Practice Directions. A soft copy of this Form may be downloaded at http://www.statecourts.gov.sg.

(3) The opening statement shall be concise and not exceed 10 pages.

Attendance at mediation

(4) All parties shall attend the mediation in person.

(5) The solicitor who has primary conduct over the case shall be present throughout the mediation.

(6) In the case of corporations and other entities, the representative who has the authority to settle shall attend the mediation.  In the event that only a board or body has authority to settle on behalf of the entity, the entity shall send the person who is the most knowledgeable about the case and who is able to recommend a settlement to the representative’s board or body.

Mediators

(7) Mediation will be conducted by either a Judge or an Associate Mediator in the State Courts Centre for Dispute Resolution. Associate Mediators are volunteer mediators who have been accredited by both the State Courts and the Singapore Mediation Centre. The parties will be notified by letter if their case is to be mediated by an Associate Mediator.

Procedure at Mediation

(8) Information on the mediation process is set out at the State Courts’ website at http://www.statecourts.gov.sg. Unlike a trial, the primary aim of mediation is not to determine who is at fault in the dispute. The mediator’s role is to assist the parties in negotiating and agreeing on a possible settlement to their dispute. The parties will attend the mediation with their solicitors, and have the opportunity to communicate with each other as well as the mediator.

(9) The procedure for mediation is more informal than a trial. The mediator will exercise his or her discretion in structuring the mediation, with a view to guiding the parties in arriving at a joint solution.

41A. Conciliation

Opening statements

(1) Each party must submit to the State Courts Centre for Dispute Resolution, and serve on all other parties, a written opening statement not less than 2 working days before the date of the first conciliation session. The opening statement shall be submitted in hard copy and not filed via the Electronic Filing Service.

(2) The opening statement shall be in the format prescribed in Form 9J (A) in Appendix A to these Practice Directions. A soft copy of this Form may be downloaded at http://www.statecourts.gov.sg

(3) The opening statement shall be concise and not exceed 10 pages. It shall contain the suggested solution(s) of the dispute by the party submitting the opening statement.

Attendance at conciliation

(4) All parties shall attend the conciliation in person.

(5) The solicitor who has primary conduct over the case shall be present throughout the conciliation.

(6) In the case of corporations and other entities, the representative who has the authority to settle shall attend the conciliation. In the event that only a board or body has authority to settle on behalf of the entity, the entity shall send the person who is the most knowledgeable about the case and who is able to recommend a settlement to the representative’s board or body.

(7) Conciliation will be conducted by a Judge in the State Courts Centre for Dispute Resolution.

Procedure at Conciliation

(8) Information on the conciliation process is set out at the State Courts’ website at http://www.statecourts.gov.sg. Unlike a trial, the primary aim of conciliation is not to determine who is at fault in the dispute. The role of the judge during conciliation is to assist the parties in negotiating and agreeing on a possible settlement to their dispute, with the judge playing an active role in suggesting optimal solution for the parties. Parties who are legally represented will attend the conciliation with their solicitors, and have the opportunity to communicate with each other as well as the judge.

(9) The procedure for conciliation is more informal than a trial. The judge will exercise his/her discretion in structuring the conciliation, with a view to guiding the parties in arriving at a joint solution.

42. Neutral Evaluation

(1)  A brief form of Neutral Evaluation is used as a matter of practice in all motor accident and personal injury claims. The procedure for such CDR sessions is set out above in Practice Directions 37 (Non-injury Motor Accident (NIMA) Claims) and 38 (Personal Injury Claims), and Appendix B to these Practice Directions.

(2) The procedure in this Practice Direction applies only to civil cases other than  motor accident cases or personal injury cases where parties have requested for Neutral Evaluation.

Procedure in Neutral Evaluation

(3) Information on the Neutral Evaluation process is set out at the State Courts’ website at http://www.statecourts.gov.sg. Neutral Evaluation involves the parties and their solicitors making presentations of their claims and defences, including the available evidence, followed by the Judge of the State Courts Centre for Dispute Resolution giving an assessment of the merits of the case. This process is also useful for helping parties to arrive at areas of agreement and to discuss methods of case management to save costs and time. The details of the structure and ambit of this process may be agreed between the parties at the preliminary conference referred to in paragraph (4).

Preliminary conference with solicitors

(4) When parties request a Neutral Evaluation, the Court will convene a preliminary conference with the solicitors alone to discuss and agree on several options regarding the process before the date for Neutral Evaluation is fixed, i.e. —

(a) whether the Neutral Evaluation is to be binding or non-binding;

(b) whether the witnesses are to attend and be assessed by the court; and

(c) whether affidavits of evidence-in-chief of witnesses are to be filed and used for the neutral evaluation, without witnesses’ attendance.

(5) If the option referred to in paragraph (4)(b) above is chosen, the Judge may use the “witness conferencing” approach to adduce expert evidence. Witness Conferencing involves the concurrent hearing of all expert witnesses in the presence of one another. Each party’s expert witness would be afforded the opportunity to question, clarify or probe any contending views proffered by the other expert.

Opening Statements

(6) Each party must submit to the State Courts Centre for Dispute Resolution, and serve on all other parties, a written opening statement not less than 2 working days before the date of the Neutral Evaluation. The opening statement shall be submitted in hard copy and not filed via the Electronic Filing Service.  

(7) The opening statement shall be in the format prescribed in Form 9K in Appendix A to these Practice Directions. A soft copy of this Form may be downloaded at http://www.statecourts.gov.sg.

(8) The opening statement shall be concise and not exceed 10 pages.

Attendance at Neutral Evaluation

(9) All parties shall attend the Neutral Evaluation session in person unless the Court dispenses with their attendance.

(10) The solicitor who has primary conduct over the case shall be present throughout the Neutral Evaluation session.

(11) In the case of corporations and other entities, the representative who has authority to settle shall attend the Neutral Evaluation session.  In the event that only a board or body has authority to settle on behalf of the entity, the entity should send the person who is the most knowledgeable about the case and who is able to recommend a settlement to the representative’s board or body.