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Part XVI: General Matters

108. Operating hours of the State Courts

The various courts, offices and counters within the State Courts have different operating hours. These operating hours may be found the State Courts’ website at http://www.statecourts.gov.sg.

109. Hours for the sittings of the State Courts

(1) The hours for the sittings of the State Courts shall be as follows, subject to the presiding Judge’s/Magistrate’s/ Registrar’s discretion in any case to conclude a sitting at such earlier or later time as he may direct:

(a) Mentions Courts (except Court 26)

Mondays to Fridays - 9.00 a.m. to 1.00 p.m. and 2.30 p.m. to 5.30 p.m.;

(b) Court 26

Mondays to Fridays - 8.45 a.m. to 1.00 p.m. and 2.30 p.m. to 5.30 p.m.;
Saturdays - 9.00 a.m. to 1.00 p.m.

(c) Hearing Courts and Chambers

Mondays to Fridays - 9.30 a.m. to 1.00 p.m. and 2.30 p.m. to 5.30 p.m.

(d) Night Courts

Mondays to Fridays - 6.00 p.m. onwards.

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

110. Hearing of urgent applications during weekends and public holidays

(1) There may be occasions when urgent applications for interim injunctions or interim preservation of subject matter of proceedings, evidence and assets to satisfy judgments need to be heard on weekends and public holidays.  To request the urgent hearing of such applications, the applicant should contact the Duty Judicial Officer at 9654 0072 during the operating hours of 8.30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on weekends and Public Holidays.  The Duty Judicial Officer will only arrange for the hearing of applications which are so urgent that they cannot be heard the next working day.

(2) All the necessary papers required for the application must be prepared together with the appropriate draft orders of Court.

(3) An undertaking from counsel shall be given to have all the documents (including the originating process) filed in Court the next available working day must be furnished to the Judicial Officer processing the application.

(4) The hearing may take place in the Civil Registry of the State Courts or at any place as directed by the Judicial Officer hearing the matter.

(5) For the avoidance of doubt, the above applies only to civil proceedings in the Magistrates’ Courts or District Courts.

111. Duty Registrar and Duty Magistrate

(1) The duties of the Duty Registrar are —

(a) to hear applications made ex parte or by consent (except probate matters) provided that the summons has been entered in the summonses book;

(b) to grant approval for any matter pertaining to the administration of the Registry, including giving early or urgent dates and allowing inspection of files; and

(c) to sign and certify documents.

(2) The duties of the Duty Magistrate shall include the examination of complainants when they file a Magistrate’s Complaint.

(3) The duty hours shall be as follows:

(a) Mondays to Fridays - 9.30 a.m. to 1.00 p.m., and 2.30 p.m. to 5.30 p.m.;

(b) Saturdays - 9.30 a.m. to 1.00 p.m.

(4) Only advocates and solicitors (or, where a party is not represented, a litigant in person) shall appear before the Duty Registrar.

(5) Except where the attendance of the advocate and solicitor is required under paragraph (8), the filing of the relevant documents will be sufficient for the Duty Registrar’s disposal of any application or matter.  Documents which are filed using the Electronic Filing Service will be returned to the advocate and solicitor through the Electronic Filing Service to the inbox of the law firm’s computer system or through the service bureau. Documents which are not electronically filed shall be collected from the Civil Registry not earlier than one clear day after the documents have been filed.

(6) All documents which are not required to be filed using the Electronic Filing Service should be duly stamped before presentation to the Duty Registrar for his signature and/or decision.

(7) A solicitor who wishes to attend before a Duty Registrar and to refer him to documents filed using the Electronic Filing Service must either —

(a) file the document sufficiently far in advance before attending before the Duty Registrar such that the documents are already included in the electronic case file for the Duty Registrar’s reference (and in this regard, solicitors should only attend before the Duty Registrar after they have received notification from the Court that the document has been accepted); or

(b) attend before the Duty Registrar with the paper documents, if these exist (and in this regard, the Duty Registrar will require the solicitor to give an undertaking to file all the documents by the next working day after the attendance before dealing with the matter).

(8) The advocate and solicitor’s attendance is compulsory only:

(a) when he is requesting an early or urgent date for hearing before the Registrar or Judge;

(b) when an application or document is returned with the direction “solicitor to attend” ; or

(c) when so required by any provision of law.

(9) A solicitor may, if he wishes to expedite matters, attend before the Duty Registrar even if his attendance is not ordinarily required.

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

112. Attendance of solicitors in Court

(1) Subject to Practice Directions 20(12), 20(15) and 28, and except for Pre-Trial Conferences in any action under the Protection from Harassment Act (Cap 256A), a solicitor appearing in any cause or matter may mention for counsel for all other parties provided that:

(a) the solicitor obtains confirmation of his authority to mention on their behalf for the purpose of the hearing; and

(b) parties have agreed on the order sought.

(2) To avoid doubt, where a solicitor mentions for counsel for all other parties pursuant to paragraph (1), the Court is not bound to make only the order that parties have agreed on.

(3) All solicitors appearing in any cause or matter are to be punctual in attending Court as delay in commencement of hearing leads to wastage of judicial time.  Appropriate sanctions may be imposed for late attendances.

113. Attendance at hearings in Chambers

(1) For the avoidance of doubt, the general rule is that hearings in chambers in civil proceedings are private in nature, and that members of the public are not entitled to attend such hearings.

(2) Notwithstanding paragraph (1) above, subject to any written law, the Court may, in its discretion, permit interested persons, such as instructing solicitors, foreign legal counsel and parties to the matter, to attend hearings in chambers. In exercising its discretion, the Court may consider a broad range of factors including —

(a) the interest that the person seeking permission has in the matter before the Court;

(b) the interests of the litigants;

(c) the reasons for which such permission is sought; and

(d) the Court’s interest in preserving and upholding its authority and dignity.

(3) In granting interested persons the permission to attend hearings in chambers, the Court may, in its discretion, impose the necessary conditions to be complied with.

114. Absence from Court on medical grounds

(1) If —

(a) any party to proceedings;

(b) any witness;

(c) any counsel; or

(d) a Deputy Public Prosecutor or other officer or person appointed by the Attorney-General to assist him or to act as his deputy in the performance of any of the functions or duties of the Public Prosecutor under the Criminal Procedure Code (Cap. 68) or under any other written law,

is required to attend Court and wishes to excuse himself from Court on medical grounds, he must tender or cause to be tendered to the Court an original medical certificate. The medical certificate so tendered must be in the form and contain the information and particulars required by paragraphs (2) to (5).

(2) A medical certificate issued by a Government hospital or clinic may be in the pre-printed form produced by the Ministry of Health, a sample of which appears at Form 22 of Appendix A to these Practice Directions. A medical certificate issued by a restructured hospital or specialist centre may also be in a pre-printed form similar to the sample which appears at Form 22 of Appendix A to these Practice Directions. The pre-printed medical certificate must:

(a) be completely and properly filled in;

(b) contain the name of the medical practitioner who issued the medical certificate;

(c) state the name of the hospital or clinic in which the medical practitioner practices;

(d) indicate that the person to whom the certificate is issued is unfit to attend Court, and specify the date(s) on which he is unfit to attend Court;

(e) be signed in full by the medical practitioner and must not be merely initialled; and

(f) be authenticated by a rubber stamp showing the medical practitioner’s full name and his designation in the hospital or clinic, as the case may be.

(3) If a medical certificate is not in Form 22 of Appendix A to these Practice Directions, then the medical certificate should:

(a) be addressed to the Court for which the certificate was intended.  It must not merely be addressed to “whomsoever-it-may-concern”. Where the patient is unable to furnish the name of the judicial officer concerned, the relevant medical certificate may be addressed to “The District Judge/Magistrate, State Courts” or “The Registrar, Small Claims Tribunals”, as the case may be;

(b) identify clearly the name of the medical practitioner who issued the certificate;

(c) state the name of the hospital or clinic from which it had been issued;

(d) be signed in full by the medical practitioner and not merely initialled;

(e) be authenticated by a rubber stamp showing the medical practitioner’s full name, designation and any other relevant particulars;

(f) contain the diagnosis of the patient concerned, if any (unless the diagnosis cannot or should not normally be disclosed);

(g) contain a statement to the effect that the person to whom the certificate had been issued is medically unfit to attend Court, and specify the date(s) on which the person is unfit to attend Court; and

(h)  bear the date on which it was written, and where this differs from the date of consultation this must be clearly disclosed.

(4) If any portion of the information set out in paragraph (3) is not found in the medical certificate proper, such information should be included in a memorandum attached to the medical certificate.  This memorandum must similarly:

(a) identify clearly the name of the medical practitioner who issued the memorandum;

(b) contain the name of the hospital or clinic from which it was issued;

(c) be signed in full by the medical practitioner and not  merely initialled; and

(d) be authenticated by a rubber stamp showing the medical practitioner’s full name and designation.

(5) All information and details in any medical certificate or any memorandum must be clearly and legibly printed.

(6) If the Directions set out in paragraphs (2) to (5) are not complied with, the Court may reject the medical certificate and decline to excuse the absence from Court of the person to whom the medical certificate was issued.  The Court may then take any action it deems appropriate.

(7) This Practice Direction shall apply to both civil and criminal proceedings in the State Courts (including the Small Claims Tribunals).

115. Precedence and preaudience of Senior Counsel

(1) By virtue of section 31 of the Legal Profession Act (Cap. 161) and existing custom and usage, Senior Counsel are given precedence and the right of preaudience.

(2) In order to give substance to the principle of precedence and preaudience to Senior Counsel, Senior Counsel who intend to appear before Judges or Registrars for summonses hearings should inform the Registrar in writing not later than two clear days before the scheduled hearing date. Matters involving Senior Counsel will thereafter be listed first, in the order of their precedence. If Senior Counsel do not appear at the time their matters come on for hearing according to the list, they will have to wait for their turn in accordance with their queue numbers given by the Queue Management System in the State Courts, subject to the Judge’s or Registrar’s overriding discretion.

(3) All other counsel, including those who appear on behalf of Senior Counsel, will continue to be heard in the order of their queue numbers in accordance with the current practice in the State Courts, subject to the Judge’s or Registrar’s overriding discretion.

116. Submissions and examination by leading and assisting counsel

(1) In the event that a party is represented by more than one counsel at a hearing, whether in open Court or in chambers, the making of submissions and the questioning of witnesses may be carried out by one counsel for each party only.

(2) If counsel have divided up their work such that it is necessary or desirable that submissions on different issues be made or certain portions of the examination, cross-examination or re-examination be conducted by different counsel, an application should be made to Court at the commencement of the trial or hearing for leave to do so. The following information should be provided to the Court for the purposes of the application:

(a) the issues on which each counsel will be making submissions; and/or

(b) the witnesses to be examined, cross-examined or re-examined by each counsel, or the portions of their evidence for which each counsel will conduct the examination, cross-examination or re-examination.

(3) If leave has been granted in accordance with paragraph (2), counsel should ensure that each confines himself to the issues or portions of evidence in respect of which leave was granted and that there is no overlap in the issues or the examination being dealt with by different counsel for the same party.  Further, counsel must not repeat, clarify or expand on any submissions or portions thereof that have been made by another counsel for the same party or examine, cross-examine or re-examine witnesses on portions of their evidence dealt with by another counsel for the same party.

(4) If leave of the Court is not sought in accordance with paragraph (2), only one counsel will be allowed to make submissions or conduct examination for a party throughout the hearing.

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

117. Court dress

(1) The attire for male advocates and solicitors appearing in open Court will be an ordinary long-sleeved white shirt with a turn-down collar, a tie of a subdued or sober colour, a dark jacket, dark trousers and black or plain coloured shoes.

(2) The attire for female advocates and solicitors appearing in open Court will be a long-sleeved white blouse high to the neck, a dark jacket, a dark skirt or dark trousers and black or plain coloured shoes.  Conspicuous jewellery or ornaments should not be worn.

(3) When appearing before the Judge or Registrar in chambers, the attire for both men and women will be the same as for open Court.

118. Use of electronic and other devices

(1) In order to maintain the dignity of Court proceedings in the State Courts, court users are strictly prohibited from making any video and/or image recording in all hearings and sessions in open Court or in chambers.

(2) Additionally, audio recording during a hearing or session is strictly prohibited without prior approval of the Judge or Registrar hearing the matter or the person presiding over the session.

(3) Court users are permitted to use notebooks, tablets, mobile phones and other electronic devices for the following purposes provided that such use does not in any way disrupt or trivialise the proceedings:

(a) to take notes of evidence during all hearings or sessions and for any other purpose pertaining to the proceedings; or

(b) to communicate with external parties during all hearings in open Court unless the Judge hearing the matter or the person presiding over the session expressly disallows this.

(4) This Practice Direction shall apply to both civil and criminal proceedings in the State Courts (including the Small Claims Tribunals).

(5) For the avoidance of doubt, this Practice Direction shall also apply to all alternative dispute resolution and counselling sessions conducted in the State Courts.

(6) The attention of court users is also drawn to section 5 of the Administration of Justice (Protection) Act 2016 (Act No. 19 of 2016).

119. Personal Data

(1) For the purposes of this Practice Direction:

(a) “personal data” shall have the same meaning as defined in the Personal Data Protection Act 2012 (Act No. 26 of 2012); and

(b) “data subject” means a person whose personal data appears in any document filed in the Registry or an electronic cause book or register maintained by the Registry.

Consent to collection, use or disclosure of personal data

(2) Consent to the collection, use or disclosure of personal data contained in any document filed with, served on, delivered or otherwise conveyed to the Registrar need not be obtained.

(3) Pursuant to Order 60, Rule 2 of the Rules of Court (Cap. 322, R 5), the Registrar may compile and maintain electronic cause books and registers by extracting information, including personal data, contained in any document filed with, served on, delivered or otherwise conveyed to the Registrar.

Access to, and correction of, personal data contained in documents filed with, served on, delivered or otherwise conveyed to the Registrar

(4) A data subject who wishes to access his personal data contained in any document filed with, served on, delivered or otherwise conveyed to the Registrar must comply with the applicable provisions in the Rules of Court and these Practice Directions relating to the access to and inspection of case files.

(5) A data subject shall not be entitled to request information about the ways in which his personal data contained in any document filed with, served on, delivered or otherwise conveyed to the Registrar has been used or disclosed.

(6) A data subject who wishes to correct any error or omission in his personal data in any document filed with, served on, delivered or otherwise conveyed to the Registrar must comply with the applicable provisions in the Rules of Court and these Practice Directions relating to the amendment of the relevant document.

Access to, and correction of, personal data contained in electronic cause books and registers maintained by the Registry

(7) A data subject who wishes to access his personal data contained in any electronic cause book or register must conduct a search through the Electronic Filing Service at a service bureau or at the Legal Registry and shall pay the fees prescribed by Appendix A to the Rules of Court.

(8) A data subject shall not be entitled to request information about the ways in which his personal data contained in any electronic cause book or register has been used or disclosed.

(9) A data subject who wishes to correct any error or omission of his personal data in any electronic cause book or register maintained by the Registry shall comply with the following procedure:

(a) The request to correct the error or omission must be made in writing by the data subject or by his solicitor, together with the reason for the requested correction. The request must clearly identify the record and the personal data to be corrected;

(b) If the data subject is not represented, his identity card number should also be included in the request and a copy of his identity card should be provided; and

(c) The following documents should accompany the request:

(i) recent copy of the record identifying the error or omission; and

(ii) supporting document(s) to substantiate the proposed correction.

(10) Where a correction is made pursuant to a request under paragraph (9) above, any information that is licensed for use under paragraph (15) of Practice Direction 17 (Access to file, etc.) will be updated accordingly with the corrected personal data.

120. Authorisation for collection of mail and Court documents

(1) Without prejudice to paragraphs (3) and (4) below, all law firms must notify the Civil Registry of the State Courts of the particulars of those person(s) authorised to collect Court documents or mail from the State Courts on their behalf by submitting a request to authorise user through the Electronic Filing Service.

(2) Where such authorised persons are no longer so authorised, the law firm must revoke or delete the authorisation immediately by submitting a request through the Electronic Filing Service. Until receipt of such notification of revocation or deletion, Court documents and mail shall continue to be released to such authorised persons upon production of evidence of identification.

(3) Any solicitor may collect Court documents and mail on behalf of his firm and any litigant in person may collect Court documents and mail intended for him in any matter in which he is a party.

(4) A law firm may authorise a courier service-provider to collect Court documents or mail from the State Courts on its behalf. At the time of collection, the courier service-provider must produce a letter of authorisation on the law firm’s letterhead that is addressed to the courier service-provider. The said letter of authorisation must clearly state —

(a) the case number;

(b) the name of the courier service-provider appointed to do the collection; and

(c) the Court documents or mail to be collected.

(5) An employee or representative of the courier service-provider collecting the Court documents or mail may be requested to provide evidence that will allow the State Courts to verify that he is an employee or representative from the courier service provider and must acknowledge receipt of the Court documents or mail collected.

(1) All correspondence to the State Courts relating to or in connection with any pending cause or matter must be copied to all other parties to the cause or matter or to their solicitors unless there are good reasons for not so doing, which should be explained in the correspondence to the Court.

(2) Solicitors are further reminded that the State Courts should not be copied on correspondence between parties or their solicitors.

(3) The Registry has the discretion to reject or refuse to act on any inappropriate or ex parte correspondence.

(4) This Practice Direction shall apply to all proceedings in the State Courts.

121. Filing directions to the Accountant-General for payment into and out of Court

(1) Where monies are sought to be paid into Court pursuant to a judgment or order of the Court, a copy of the judgment or order must be referenced in the draft direction to the Accountant-General for payment in submitted to the Registry for approval.

(2) Where monies are sought to be paid out of Court pursuant to a judgment or order of the Court, pursuant to the acceptance of a payment into Court made under Order 22 of the Rules of Court (Cap. 322, R 5), a copy of the judgment or order, or of the notice in Form 32 in Appendix A to the Rules of Court, or of the written consent, must be attached to the draft direction to the Accountant-General for payment out submitted to the Registry for approval.

(3) Every draft direction for payment into or payment out of Court shall contain amounts in a single currency.

(4) Where monies in different currencies are to be paid into or out of Court, separate draft directions must be prepared for each currency in which payment is to be made.

122. Stamping of documents

(1) Only documents filed in the State Courts will be stamped at the State Courts’ stamp office. The amount of stamp fees payable must be indicated on the top right hand corner of the document. In addition, solicitor’s clerks or solicitors must complete and submit the requisition form set out in Form 24 of Appendix A to these Practice Directions, together with the relevant document(s) to the cashier for stamping.

(2) Payment should, as far as possible, be made by a solicitor’s cheque, crossed and made payable to:

“Registrar, State Courts”

(3) The stamp office shall be opened during the following hours:

(a) Monday to Friday - 9.00 am to 1.00 p.m., and 2.00 p.m. to 4.00 p.m.

(b) Saturday - 9.00 am to 12.00 p.m.

123. Publication of & Reports and Comments on Court Cases

(1) This Practice Direction applies to any solicitor, litigant (whether represented or unrepresented), the media and any other person who reports or comments on any proceedings which are pending before the State Courts.

(2) Every person to whom this Practice Direction applies —

(a) must ensure that any report or comment made by him or her in public on any pending proceedings before the State Courts —

(i) does not contravene any existing law or order of court; and

(ii) is not calculated to affect, or be reasonably capable of affecting, the outcome of any decision by the court.

(b) must not publish or publicly report or comment on —

(i) any affidavit or statutory declaration which has not been adduced as evidence or been referred to in any hearing whether in open court or in chambers;

(ii) any other court document which has not been served on the relevant party or parties in the proceedings;

(iii) any statement made by any person in proceedings in chambers where such statement is expressly stated to be confidential or is impliedly confidential, except that a solicitor may inform his or her client of any such statement made in chambers when it is necessary for the solicitor to render proper advice to the clients.