State Courts Practice Directions

Part VI: Alternative Dispute Resolution

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

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

(2) The CDR process and other appropriate Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) processes should be considered at the earliest possible stage. The judge-driven CDR process gives the parties the opportunity to resolve their disputes faster and more economically compared to determination at trial. Mediation, conciliation and neutral evaluation are undertaken as part of the CDR process and, subject to the exception stated in paragraph (7), are provided by the Court without additional charges imposed. CDR sessions are —

(a) a type of pre-trial conferences 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”; or

(b) conducted pursuant to a referral under Order 108 Rule 3 of the Rules of Court.

(3) Aside from the CDR process undertaken by the Courts, the Courts also encourage parties to consider using other ADR processes, 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.

The Court Dispute Resolution process

(4) The CDR process pursuant to Order 34A of the Rules of Court is overseen by the State Courts’ Court Dispute Resolution Cluster (CDRC). During the CDR process, the following dispute resolution mechanisms can be used, namely —

(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 mechanisms.)

Confidentiality

(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. For the avoidance of doubt, all communications made in the course of a CDR session shall be marked by the Judge as being confidential or without prejudice, save for the following:

(a) directions given by the Judge for the purpose of case management (including directions for the filing of pleadings, discovery, exchange of affidavits of evidence in chief, setting down for trial and filing of notice of discontinuance);

(b) terms of settlement (unless expressly agreed by all the parties to the settlement as being confidential), consent judgments and consent orders of court.

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

Fees

(7) Hearing fees are not imposed for the CDR process carried out by the CDRC, 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 the CDR process or has been referred for the CDR process pursuant to Order 90A Rule 5A of the Rules of Court 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 the appropriate CDR or ADR processes as a “first stop” for resolving the dispute, at the earliest possible stage; and

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

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

(10) The CDR process will be used for the following cases:

(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;

(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 1 December 2016 and transferred to the District Court (references to NIMA and personal injury cases would hereinafter include these cases); and

(c) all claims in negligence, including professional negligence claims that are filed in the District Court.

(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.

(14) The procedure set out in Practice Direction 39A (Claims in Negligence (Excluding Medical Negligence, Personal Injury and Non-Injury Motor Accident (NIMA) Claims)) shall apply, as appropriate, to claims in negligence, including professional negligence claims.

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

(15) All cases commenced by writ on or after 1 November 2014 in a Magistrate’s Court and any case commenced by writ on or after 1 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.

(16) 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 to undergo the appropriate CDR or ADR process, where —

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

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

(17) 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

(18) In all other cases commenced in a Magistrate’s Court before 1 November 2014, and all cases commenced in a District Court on or after 1 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.

(19) Such cases shall be automatically referred by the Court to undergo the appropriate CDR or ADR process during the PTC, unless the parties opt out of the CDR or ADR process.

(20) The procedure for referral to the appropriate CDR or ADR process is set out in Practice Direction 36 (Mode of referral to CDR/ADR etc.).

(21) Parties who wish to undergo the CDR process at an earlier stage must file a “Request for CDR” via the Electronic Filing Service. The “Request for CDR” is set out in Form 7A in Appendix A to these Practice Directions.

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

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

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

(c) all cases commenced by writ on or after 1 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 in Practice Direction 39A in relation to claims in negligence, including professional negligence claims.)

Request for adjournment of CDR session

(23) 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, personal injury claims and claims in negligence 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.

(24) 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

(25) 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”.

(26) 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 —

(a) non-injury motor accident (NIMA) claims;

(b) personal injury claims;

(c) medical negligence claims; and

(d) claims in negligence, including professional negligence claims that are filed in the District Court.

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 1 November 2014 in a Magistrate’s Court and any case commenced by writ on or after 1 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 the case for the Court Dispute Resolution (CDR) process or any other appropriate Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) process, where —

(a) the parties consent to such referral; 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 as to the most appropriate CDR or ADR process for the case, 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 apply to all cases that —

(a) are commenced either in a Magistrate’s Court before 1 November 2014 or in a District Court on or after 1 April 2014;

(b) are not subject to the simplified process under Order 108 of the Rules of Court; and

(c) do not fall within any of the following class of cases:

(i) non-injury motor accident (NIMA) claims;

(ii) personal injury claims;

(iii) medical negligence claims; and

(iv) claims in negligence, including professional negligence claims that are filed in the District Court.

(6) To encourage the use of the Court Dispute Resolution (CDR) or Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) process 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 most appropriate CDR or ADR process. To facilitate a considered decision on the appropriate CDR or ADR process, 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 appropriate CDR or ADR process during the PTC unless any or all of the parties opt out of the CDR or ADR process. Any party who wishes to opt out should indicate his/her decision in the CDR/ADR Form or inform the PTC Judge of his/her wish to do so.

(12) Where the Judge is of the view that the CDR or ADR process is suitable, and the party/parties have opted out of the CDR or ADR process 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.

39A. Claims in Negligence (Excluding Medical Negligence, Personal Injury and Non-Injury Motor Accident (NIMA) Claims)

(1) This Practice Direction applies to all claims in negligence filed on or after 1 July 2019, including professional negligence claims (but excluding medical negligence, personal injury and NIMA claims) (“claims in negligence”).

Using the Court Dispute Resolution process for all claims in negligence

A. Cases that are subject to the simplified process under Order 108 of the Rules of Court

(2) For all negligence claims that are —

(a) filed in a Magistrate’s Court on or after 1 November 2014; or

(b) filed in a District Court on or after 1 November 2014 and in respect of which the parties thereto have consented to the application of the simplified process under Order 108 of the Rules of Court,

the Court will, pursuant to Order 108 Rule 3 of the Rules of Court and within 50 days of the filing of the Defence, convene the first case management conference (CMC) under Order 34A of the Rules of Court.

(3) At the first CMC, the Court may make an order to direct that a case be referred for resolution through the Court Dispute Resolution (CDR) process if the Court is of the view that doing so would facilitate the resolution of the dispute between the parties.

B. Cases that are not subject to the simplified process

(4) For all claims in negligence, the Court will convene the first Court Dispute Resolution (CDR) session under Order 34A of the Rules of Court within 8 weeks of the filing of the Memorandum of Appearance.

Notification from the Court

(5) Solicitors in all claims in negligence will receive a notice from the Court fixing the date of the first CMC or CDR session, as the case may be. Only solicitors are required to attend the first CMC or CDR session unless the party in question is acting in person. The Judge may, however, direct the attendance of the parties at subsequent sessions.

Case Management Process

A. Court Dispute Resolution process to achieve amicable resolution of the case

(6) The CMC and CDR sessions will be conducted by the State Courts’ Court Dispute Resolution Cluster (CDRC). Where the CDR process is to be used in a case to which the simplified process under Order 108 of the Rules of Court applies, the session(s) will be referred to as “CDR session(s)” in this Practice Direction.

(7) The Judge hearing the CMC or CDR session will manage the case to achieve an early, cost effective and amicable resolution of the case. This may include giving the necessary directions for upfront discovery or further discovery and/or upfront exchange of affidavits of evidence-in-chief, as required by the circumstances of the case. For instance, the Judge may direct an exchange of the parties’ affidavits of evidence-in-chief early in the proceedings for the purpose of a closer examination on the issue of liability, or to facilitate in negotiating a settlement.

(8) At the first or subsequent CMC or CDR session, the Judge may recommend the use of neutral evaluation, mediation or conciliation, as appropriate, to facilitate the amicable resolution of the case, having regard to factors such as the nature of the case, the factual matrix and the preference of the parties.

(9) Where the appropriate dispute resolution mechanisms to be utilised in the particular case has been determined, the Judge shall give directions to convene a special CDR session to conduct the neutral evaluation, mediation or conciliation, as the case may be. Parties shall comply with the requirements set out in these Practice Directions for the relevant process. Practice Directions 41, 41A and 42 shall apply to cases proceeding for mediation, conciliation and neutral evaluation, respectively.

(10) All parties should use their best endeavours to reach an amicable resolution of the case. Where parties are unable to resolve the case through a settlement agreement or a consent judgment, they should endeavour to set out their areas of agreement, and identify and narrow the issues with a view to saving time and costs at the trial.

B. Directions for the expeditious disposal of the case

(11) In addition to managing the case through the CDR process, the Judge may, at a CMC or CDR session, give such directions as he thinks fit in order to ensure that the case progresses expeditiously, including directions for —

(a) the filing and service of lists of documents and affidavits verifying such lists;

(b) the inspection of documents;

(c) the exchange and filing of affidavits of evidence-in-chief;

(d) the appointment of a single joint expert in cases to which Order 108 of the Rules of Court applies; and

(e) the setting down of the case for trial.

(12) The Judge may also fix timelines to manage and control the progress of the case and take such other action or making such other directions as he thinks appropriate in the circumstances, including costs sanctions or unless orders.

C. Appointment of single joint expert

(13) For cases to which Order 108 of the Rules of Court applies, where any question requiring the evidence of an expert witness arises and parties are unable to agree on the expert to be appointed, the Judge may, having regard to the provisions in Order 108 Rule 5(3) of the Rules of Court, appoint the expert for the parties as part of the case management process. Each party is expected to furnish the following for the determination of the single joint expert for the case:

(a) names and curriculum vitae of two experts the party considers suitable to appoint (for which purpose a party may nominate the expert who has conducted an inspection or survey for him);

(b) a quotation from each nominated expert of the fees he expects to charge for preparing the report and for giving evidence in Court; and

(c) the estimated time needed to prepare the report.

(14) The Judge will appoint the single joint expert after hearing submissions on the suitability or unsuitability of the nominated experts to be appointed.

40. Assessment of damages

(1) Pre-Assessment of Damages Alternative Dispute Resolution (“ADR”) Conferences

(a) The Court will convene the first pre-Assessment of Damages ADR conference under Order 34A or Order 108 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 (“NOAD”).

(b) The filing of the NOAD will only be accepted by the Court when —

(i) all Affidavits of Evidence-in-Chief and/or expert reports which parties intend to rely on at the Assessment of Damages have been duly exchanged at least 5 working days before the filing of the NOAD; and

(ii) the Checklist for Pre-Assessment of Damages ADR Conferences in Form 9L of Appendix A to these Practice Directions has been duly completed by all parties taking part in the proceedings and filed as a supporting document to the NOAD.

(c) There are 3 types of Pre-Assessment of Damages ADR conferences which will be convened after the filing of the NOAD, namely —

(i) Assessment of Damages Court Dispute Resolution Conferences (“ADCDRs”), for all personal injury cases (excluding medical negligence cases) and non-injury motor accident (“NIMA”) matters, where the quantum claimed by the Plaintiff is below the sum of S$250,000;

(ii) Assessment of Damages Case Management Conferences (“AD-CMCs”), for all other civil matters filed in the Magistrate Court; and

(iii) Assessment of Damages Pre-Trial Conferences (“AD-PTCs”), for —

(A) all other civil matters that are filed in or transferred to the District Court under section 23 or 54C of the State Courts Act; and

(B) high value personal injury (including motor accident or “PIMA” cases) and NIMA cases, where the quantum claimed by a plaintiff is above the sum of S$250,000 and the matter is transferred under the Supreme Court of Judicature (Transfer of Specified Proceedings to District Court) Order 2016.

(d) At the first pre-Assessment of Damages ADR conference, parties should be in a position to —

(i) assess the relative merits of their cases and/or negotiate a settlement with all relevant information at their disposal;

(ii) submit to the Court a Quantum Indication Form in Form 9B of Appendix A to these Practice Directions; and

(iii) make submissions in order to obtain from the Court an indication of the likely quantum which may be awarded at the Assessment of Damages, so as to assist in the settlement of the case.

(e) At the pre-Assessment of Damages ADR conferences, the Deputy Registrar will —

(i) facilitate settlement between parties;

(ii) give indications on liability and/or quantum; and/or

(iii) conduct a final check on the status of the proceedings between the parties so to ensure that they are ready for the Assessment of Damages hearing.

(f) Parties may expect, generally, 3 to 6 sessions for pre-Assessment of Damages ADR conferences.

(g) If there is no settlement or if the Court thinks fit at any point during the ADR conference, the Court may —

(i) direct that the matter should proceed for an Assessment of Damages hearing; or

(ii) make such orders or give such directions as it thinks fit for the just, expeditious and economical disposal of the matter.

(h) An adjournment of a pre-Assessment of Damages ADR conference 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.

(i) A failure to attend a conference or comply with any directions given by the Court including a failure by either party or both parties to complete the checklist in Form 9L and/or to comply with Practice Direction 40(1)(b)(i) above) may result in the Court making cost orders, peremptory orders and/or any such order as it thinks fit for the just, expeditious and economical disposal of the cause or matter.

(j) 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 —

(i) the parties shall file and serve the Bundle(s) of Documents (whether agreed or otherwise) within 4 weeks from the date of the conference;

(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 must be filed via the Electronic Filing Service.

(d) 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 NOAD.

(b) For personal injury matters, 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 a 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.

(c) 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 of Appendix A to these Practice Directions in Portable Document Format (PDF).

(d) Form 9G shall only be filed with the consent of all parties involved in the proceedings.

(e) 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 pre-Assessment of Damages ADR conferences by consent

(a) Any request for adjournment of a pre-Assessment of Damages ADR conference shall be made not less than 2 working days before the date of the conference.

(b) A request for an adjournment of a conference shall be made only by filing a “Request for Re-fixing / Vacation of Hearing Dates” via the Electronic Filing Service.

(c) The applicant shall obtain the consent of the other parties to the adjournment, and list the dates that are unsuitable for all the parties failing which no adjournment will be granted.

41. Mediation

Opening statements

(1) Each party must submit to the State Courts’ Court Dispute Resolution Cluster (CDRC), 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 by email to statecourts_cdr@statecourts.gov.sg 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 of the CDRC. 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’ Court Dispute Resolution Cluster (CDRC), 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 of the CDRC.

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’ Court Dispute Resolution Cluster (CDRC) 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 CDRC, 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 by email to statecourts_cdr@statecourts.gov.sg 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.

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