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Part IX: Fixing of Matters for Hearing

64. Waiting time for the hearing of matters

(1) The waiting time between the filing of certain processes or other steps in the proceedings and the date for the hearing of the matter are as set out in the Schedule below.  Solicitors are directed to take note of these waiting times and must be ready to proceed at the end of the relevant period.

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

Schedule

Waiting time (*) for trials or hearings in the State Courts

S/N Type of Causes or Matters Waiting Time
1. Civil Trials:  
  District Courts (DC) 2 to 4 weeks
  Magistrates’ Courts (MC) 2 to 4 weeks
2. Criminal Trials:  
  District Arrest Cases 2 to 4 weeks
  Magistrate’s Arrest Cases/PS/PSS 1 to 4 weeks
3. Traffic Trials 1 to 2 weeks
4. Coroner’s Inquiries:  
  General category 2 to 4 weeks
  Medical 1 to 3 months
5. Small Claims Tribunals:  
  Tourist cases 1 day (On day claim lodged)
  Consumer claims 10 days from day where claim lodged
  Non-consumer claims 2 weeks from day where claim lodged
6. Civil Section  
  Summons# 4 to 6 weeks
  Summary Judgment 6 weeks (statutory)
  Summons for Directions 4 to 6 weeks
  Assessment of Damages 2 to 4 weeks
  Examination of Judgment Debtor 3 to 4 weeks
  Taxation and review of taxation 3 to 4 weeks
7. Others:  
  Writs of Execution 4 to 6 weeks
  Appeal to a Judge in Chambers against the Registrar’s decision 2 to 4 weeks

# The waiting period for applications for discovery or interrogatories against a network service provider under Practice Direction 32 (Applications for discovery etc.) is 5 days from the date of filing of the Originating Summons.

(*) “Waiting Time” is defined as follows:

For civil and criminal trials, it is the period from the last mention/PTC (when parties indicate they are ready) to the date of hearing. For interlocutory matters, the waiting time is calculated from the date of filing. In the majority of cases, the matter should be heard within the time frames as indicated above. It is only in exceptional circumstances that the time frame is departed from. Notwithstanding the above, the short cause list continues to apply.

65. Pleadings

(1) The attention of advocates and solicitors is drawn to the pleading requirements laid down by the Court of Appeal in the case of Sembcorp Marine Ltd v PPL Holdings Pte Ltd and anor and anor appeal [2013] SGCA 43 for disputes involving a contextual approach to the construction of a contract.

(2) In particular, the Court of Appeal made the following observations at paragraph 73 of the judgment:

(a) parties who contend that the factual matrix is relevant to the construction of the contract must plead with specificity each fact of the factual matrix that they wish to rely on in support of their construction of the contract;

(b) the factual circumstances in which the facts referred to in sub-paragraph (a) above were known to both or all the relevant parties must also be pleaded with sufficient particularity;

(c) parties should in their pleadings specify the effect which such facts will have on their contended construction; and

(d) the obligation of the parties to disclose evidence would be limited by the extent to which the evidence is relevant to the pleaded facts referred to in sub-paragraphs (a) and (b) above.

(3) The Court of Appeal further held at paragraph 74 of the judgment that in general, extrinsic facts that are placed before the court in a manner that is not consistent with the above requirements will not be accorded any weight when a court is construing a contract. Adverse cost consequences may also be imposed, where appropriate.

66. Requesting a hearing date through the Electronic Filing Service

(1) When filing applications through the Electronic Filing Service, solicitors may make a request for a preferred hearing date for any interlocutory application to be heard before a Deputy Registrar.

(2) Solicitors should confer with all parties to the application before selecting a preferred hearing date. Every counsel arguing the application should be available to attend the hearing on the date selected.

(3) In the event that it is not possible to confer with opposing counsel on a preferred hearing date, whether due to the nature or urgency of the application or otherwise, solicitors must select a date when counsel arguing the application for the applicant will be available.

(4) Solicitors are reminded to satisfy the requirements of paragraph (6) of Practice Direction 24 (Summonses).

67. Fixing of hearing dates

(1) To assist the Registrar at the fixing of hearing dates, solicitors should provide updated information as to the current status of the cause or matter, including the prospects of settlement and any other developments since the summons for directions which are likely to affect the length of the trial.  They will also be required to inform the Registrar of the number of witnesses they intend to call to facilitate a more realistic assessment of the time required for the hearing.

(2) Solicitors who attend the fixing should be fully acquainted with the cause or matter being fixed for trial.  They should preferably be the solicitor having conduct of the cause or matter.

(3) Solicitors must attend the fixing. It is not acceptable for their clerks to attend in their stead.

(4) The attention of solicitors is drawn to Order 34, Rule 5 of the Rules of Court which provides:

“It shall be the duty of all parties to an action entered in any list to furnish without delay to the Registrar all available information as to the action being or being likely to be settled, or affecting the estimated length of the trial, and, if the action is settled or withdrawn, to notify the Registrar of the fact without delay.”  [emphasis added]

68. Adjournment or vacation of hearing dates and part-heard cases

(1) Where dates have been fixed for the trial of any cause or matter, any request for an adjournment or vacation of the trial dates shall be made to a Judge or Registrar by way of summons with a supporting affidavit even in those cases where counsel for the other party or parties consent to the adjournment.

(2) Subject to any directions of the Judge or Registrar, when a case is adjourned, the Registrar will assign such days as are available for the hearing of the case, and counsel will be expected to take the dates at short notice.  Where counsel is unable for any reason to take the dates, he shall apply to the Judge or Registrar for an adjournment in accordance with paragraph (1) above.

(3) In the event that the hearing of a case is not concluded within the number of days allotted, the Court may direct the hearing of the case to continue beyond the allotted time rather than adjourning the case part-heard to another date.  Counsel for parties in all cases should therefore be prepared to continue with the hearing of the matter notwithstanding the fact that the time originally allotted may have expired.  Subject to any such directions of the Court, all part-heard cases shall be fixed for continued hearing at short notice.  Applications for adjournment of such hearing dates may be granted only for good and sufficient reasons.