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Part X: Documents and Authorities for use in Court

69. Electronic filing of documents and authorities for use in court

(1) Subject to any Practice Directions in this Part to the contrary, in particular Practice Direction 71(3) (Documents for use in open Court), all bundles of documents, bundles of authorities, bundles of pleadings, bundles of affidavits, all other bundles, and all opening statements for proceedings which have been commenced using the Electronic Filing Service must be filed in Court using the Electronic Filing Service.

(2) In the event that it is not possible to file the documents in advance of the hearing, counsel may apply to the Judge or Registrar conducting the hearing for leave to use paper documents during the hearing. The paper documents may be printed on one side or both sides of each paper. The solicitor must explain why it was not possible to file the documents in advance of the hearing, and must give an undertaking to file using the Electronic Filing Service all the documents used at the hearing by the next working day after the hearing. Any document not filed using the Electronic Filing Service will not be included in the Court’s case file.

70. Bundle of documents filed on setting down

(1) Order 34, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court (Cap. 322, R 5) requires a bundle containing certain documents to be filed together with the notice for setting down. The documents in the bundle should be included in the order in which these appear in Order 34, Rule 3 (1).

Documents filed electronically

(2) For proceedings which have been commenced using the Electronic Filing Service, rather than preparing these documents in paper form and binding them, the documents must be prepared in an electronic format.

(3) In addition, parties should endeavour to file a core bundle of documents rather than the numerous bundles that are often filed. This core bundle should comprise only documents that are relevant to the hearing in question, or which will be referred to in the course of the hearing.  

(4) If there are other documents, the relevance of which is uncertain, these documents should be brought to the hearing in paper form. Such other documents should only be filed electronically as and when directed by the Court.

(5) The following directions shall apply to all bundles and opening statements:

(a) Index pages must be prepared.

(b) Bookmarks should be created in a Portable Document Format (PDF) file for each such reference in the index. There should be as many book-marks in that PDF file as there are references in the index to documents in that PDF file.

(c) The name given to each bookmark should be the same as the corresponding reference in the index.

(d) If a bundle of documents includes more than one PDF document, the various PDF documents should be arranged chronologically or in some logical order.

(6) For proceedings using the Electronic Filing Service, a bundle of documents may be created online and filed through the Electronic Filing Service. The electronic bundle must be created in Portable Document Format (PDF). The electronic bundle may contain the following:

(a) documents in the electronic case file; and

(b) documents that have been uploaded into the electronic case file by solicitors or other persons given access to the shared folder in the electronic case file.

Documents not filed electronically

(7) For proceedings which were not commenced using the Electronic Filing Service, the setting down bundle should be firmly secured together with plastic ring binding or plastic spine thermal binding.  The rings or spines should be red for plaintiffs and blue for defendants, and should have a transparent plastic cover in front and at the back.

(8) Every page of the setting down bundle should be paginated consecutively at the top right hand corner of each page from the first page until the last.  In the event that the bundle is in several volumes, the pagination should nonetheless run consecutively from the first page of the first volume until the last page of the last volume.

71. Documents for use in trials in open Court

(1) This Practice Direction shall apply to trials in open Court of —

(a) writ actions; and

(b) originating summonses ordered to be continued as if the cause of action had been begun by writ.

(2) Order 34, Rule 3A of the Rules of Court requires the originals of the affidavits of the evidence-in-chief of all witnesses and a bundle of documents to be filed not less than 5 working days before the trial of an action.  This Practice Direction prescribes the contents and the format of the bundle of documents.  In addition, to improve the conduct of civil proceedings and to reduce the time taken in the presentation of cases in Court, the following documents shall also be prepared by the respective solicitors of the parties:

(a) a bundle of authorities; and

(b) an opening statement.

Documents which need not be filed electronically

(3) The provisions of Practice Directions 69 (Electronic filing of documents and authorities for use in court) and 70(2) to (6) (Bundles of documents filed on setting down) do not apply to the documents that are filed in Court pursuant to the provisions of Order 34, Rule 3A(1) of the Rules of the Court. Such documents may be tendered to the Registry in hardcopy together with an electronic copy stored on a CD-ROM in Portable Document Format (PDF) and complying with the provisions of this Practice Direction.

(4) Any court fees payable, pursuant to Appendix B of the Rules of Court, on filing the documents in this Practice Direction, shall be payable at the stamp office. Parties should, when making payment at the stamp office, indicate to the cashier the precise number of pages which comprise the documents and comply with the provisions of Practice Direction 122 (Stamping of documents).

(5) It is emphasised that payment of the court fees on such documents should be made before the documents are tendered to Court in compliance with Order 34, Rule 3A of the Rules of Court. The hardcopy of documents tendered to Court should show, on the front page, the amount of court fees paid on the document.

(6) The electronic copy must tally in all respects with the hardcopy, as it will be uploaded into the case file by the Registry staff and will form part of the electronic case file. The importance of not submitting unnecessarily large electronic files is emphasised. To this end, parties are to adhere as far as possible to the guidelines set out on the Electronic Filing Service website (currently at www.elitigation.sg), or its equivalent as may be set up from time to time, on the resolution to be used when scanning documents into Portable Document Format (PDF).

(7) In the event that parties elect to electronically file such documents, they must nevertheless tender a bundle of these documents to the Civil Registry in hard copy. It shall not be necessary to pay any additional court fees in respect of the hard copy in such circumstances.

Bundle of documents

(8) The bundle of documents required to be filed by Order 34, Rule 3A of the Rules of Court should be paginated consecutively throughout at the top right hand corner and may be printed on one side or both sides of each page.

(a) An index of contents of each bundle in the manner and form set out in Form 13 in Appendix A to these Practice Directions must also be furnished.  No bundle of documents is necessary in cases where parties are not relying on any document at the trial.

(b) Under Order 34, Rule 3A (3) of the Rules of Court it is the responsibility of solicitors for all parties to agree and prepare an agreed bundle as soon as possible.  The scope to which the agreement extends must be stated in the index sheet of the agreed bundle.

(c) The documents in the bundles should —

(i) be firmly secured together with plastic ring binding or plastic spine thermal binding, and such rings or spines should be red for plaintiffs and blue for defendants with a transparent plastic cover in front and at the back;

(ii) have flags to mark out documents to which repeated references will be made in the course of hearing, and such flags shall —

(A) bear the appropriate indicium by which the document is indicated in the index of contents; and

(B) be spaced out evenly along the right side of the bundle so that as far as possible they do not overlap one another; and

(iii) be legible (for which purpose clear legible photo-copies of original documents may be exhibited instead of the originals provided the originals are made available for inspection by the other parties before the hearing and by the Judge at the hearing).

(d) Where originals and copies of documents are included in one bundle, it should be stated in the index which documents are originals and which are copies.

(e) Only documents which are relevant or necessary for the trial shall be included in the bundles.  In cases where the Court is of the opinion that costs have been wasted by the inclusion of unnecessary documents, the Court will have no hesitation in making a special order for costs against the relevant person.

(f) A core bundle should (unless clearly unnecessary) also be provided containing the most important documents upon which the case will turn or to which repeated reference will have to be made. The documents in this bundle should normally be paginated but should also be cross-referenced to copies of the documents included in the main bundles.  The bundle supplied to the Court should be contained in a loose-leaf file which can easily have further documents added to it if required.

Bundle of authorities

(9) The bundle of authorities to be prepared by each party should:

(a) contain all the authorities, cases, statutes, subsidiary legislation and any other materials relied on;

(b) be properly bound with plastic ring binding or plastic spine thermal binding in accordance with the requirements set out in paragraph (8)(c) above;

(c) be paginated consecutively at the top right hand corner of each page (for which purpose the pagination should commence on the first page of the first bundle and run sequentially to the last page of the last bundle); and

(d) contain an index of the authorities in that bundle and be appropriately flagged for easy reference.

(10) Only authorities which are relevant or necessary for the trial shall be included in the bundles.  No bundle of authorities is necessary in cases where parties are not relying on any authority at the trial.  In cases where the Court is of the opinion that costs have been wasted by the inclusion of unnecessary authorities, the Court will have no hesitation in making a special order for costs against the relevant person.

(11) The bundle of authorities shall be filed and served on all relevant parties at least 3 working days before trial.

Opening statements

(12) A proper opening statement is of great assistance to the Court as it sets out the case in a nutshell, both as to facts and law.  It enables the Judge to appreciate what the case is about, and what he is to look out for when reading and listening to the evidence that will follow. Opening statements also help to clarify issues between the parties, so that unnecessary time is not spent on trying to prove what is not disputed or irrelevant.

(a) In the light of these objectives, opening statements will be required in all cases from all parties, except where dispensation has been granted by the trial Judge and in running down actions.  Statements submitted may be taken as read by the trial Judge.

(b) The plaintiff’s statement as provided for in sub-paragraph (d) below, should, unless exempted or dispensation has been granted by the trial Judge, be filed and served on all other relevant parties not less than 3 working days before the commencement of the trial for which they are to be used.

(c)  The other counsel should each similarly not later than 2 working days before the start of the trial provide to the Court (with copies at the same time to their opponents) a statement which should concisely state the nature of their case on each of the issues to be tried and summarise the propositions of law to be advanced with references to the main authorities to be relied on. The character and length of this document will depend on the circumstances and whether there is any counterclaim or third party proceedings.

(d) In the case of the plaintiff, the statement must include the following:

(i) a summary of essential facts indicating which, if any, are agreed;

(ii) an indication of how these facts are to be proved, identifying relevant witnesses and documents;

(iii) a summary of the issues involved with cross-references as appropriate to the pleadings;

(iv) a summary of the plaintiff’s case in relation to each of the issues with references to the key documents relied upon, and a summary of the propositions of law to be advanced with references to the main authorities to be relied on; and

(v) an explanation of the reliefs claimed (if these are unusual or complicated).

(e) Counsel will be at liberty to amend their statements at the trial but in such event will be expected to explain the reasons for the amendments.

Timeline for tendering documents

(13) At the trial of the cause or matter, an adjournment may be ordered if:

(a) the above documents or any of them, save for the opening statement in cases where it is not required or dispensation was granted, were not filed and served within the prescribed time or at all; or

(b) one party seeks to tender any of the above documents or supplements thereto except for supplements to the opening statement at the trial of the cause or matter.

(14) If an adjournment is ordered for any of the reasons set out in paragraph (13) above, the party who has failed to file or serve his documents within the prescribed time or at all or who seeks to tender a document or supplement thereto except for supplements to the opening statement may be ordered by the Court to bear the costs of the adjournment.

72. Hearing in Chambers

In all hearings in chambers before a Judge or Registrar, counsel shall submit their bundles of documents and their own bundle of authorities.  Order 34, Rule 3A, of the Rules of Court (Cap. 322, R 5) and the requirements of Practice Direction 71(8) to (11) (Documents for use in trials in open Court)) shall, with the necessary modifications, be complied with in this regard, save that the bundles may be submitted at the hearing itself before the Judge or Registrar, as the case may be.

73. Citation of written judgments and secondary authorities

Citation of written judgments

(1) The neutral citation system

(a) A neutral citation is a court-approved system of citation which is independent of the series of law reports or other publications, and unique to each written judgment.

(b) Each written judgment from a particular level of court is assigned a sequential number, starting from 1 at the beginning of each calendar year.

(2) Specific paragraph citations

(a) Counsel will be required to make specific citations by referring to the paragraph number of the judgment, and not to the page number of the judgment or report.

(b) For consistency, square brackets will be used to denote paragraph numbers. The paragraph mark (¶) will no longer be used.

(3) Court designators

SGDC – Singapore District Court

SGMC – Singapore Magistrates’ Court

SGSCT – Singapore Small Claims Tribunal

(4) Application of the neutral citation system

The application of the system is as follows:

(a) Cases reported in the Singapore Law Reports shall be cited using their Singapore Law Reports citations, in priority to their neutral citations.

(b) Unreported decisions shall be cited using their neutral citations.

(5) Example and explanation

ABC Co Pte Ltd v XYZ Co Ltd [2003] SGDC 25, at [3], [8].

Year of the decision - [2003]
Level of Court - SGDC (Singapore District Court)
Sequential Number - 25 (twenty-fifth written judgment rendered by the District Courts in 2003)
Paragraph Number(s) - Paragraphs 3 and 8 of the judgment
Citation of secondary authorities in court

(6) Counsel are advised to be more circumspect in their use of secondary authorities such as textbooks, journals, periodicals and other treatises. As far as possible, counsel should rely on primary authorities to support the proposition of law argued for; and

(7) If it necessary to cite secondary authorities, counsel should ensure that the material to be cited is directly relevant to the case before the Court. Counsel are also reminded of their duty to ensure that such material is not cited out of context. The following are specific guidelines for the citation of different types of secondary authorities:

(a) Textbooks that are generally recognised as leading textbooks in the relevant area of law may be readily cited to the Court.

(b) If counsel wish to cite academic articles in journals and periodicals in support of a particular proposition of law, they should ensure that they are citing a statement, rather than a critique, of the law. Citation of academic articles should be limited to those written by eminent authors of reputable standing.  The articles should also have been published in established journals and periodicals.

(c) Legal opinions written by other counsel not having conduct of the case before the court should generally not be cited as authority. Such legal opinions are considerably less authoritative than academic articles, as the views expressed in these private opinions have not been subject to the rigorous scrutiny of editorship and public critique.

(8) Counsel’s attention is drawn to Order 59 Rule 8 of the Rules of Court which gives the Court the power to make an order for costs personally against errant advocates and solicitors, who have wasted or incurred costs unreasonably or improperly.  The Court will not hesitate to invoke its powers under Order 59 Rule 8 of the Rules of Court in cases where costs have been wasted due to counsel’s indiscriminate citation of unnecessary and irrelevant secondary authorities.