Written answer by Law Minister K Shanmugam on the Subordinate Courts’ caseload and manpower resources
16 Aug 2010 Posted in Parliamentary speeches and responses
Ms Sylvia Lim, Non-Constituency Member
To ask the Minister for Law (a) whether there has been a significant increase in the caseload of the Subordinate Courts over the last 10 years; (b) how manpower resources or work processes are being augmented to meet any such increase; and (c) whether temporary staff are hired at the Subordinate Courts and, if so, in what roles.
- Whether there has been a significant increase in the caseload of the Subordinate Courts over the last 10 years :
- There was no significant increase in the Subordinate Courts’ caseload over the past ten years. The number of cases in 2009 was 371,997 compared to 385,136 in 2000.
- How manpower resources or work processes are being augmented to meet any such increase :
- Whilst there has not been a significant increase in caseload, the Subordinate Courts does face a heavy workload and continually seeks to optimise resources, especially judicial resources, through a multi-prong strategy. These include promoting greater use of alternative dispute resolution (“ADR”), active case management at pre-trial conferences (“PTCs”), deployment of technology, and continuous improvement in processes to remove waste and increase productivity. In addition, the Subordinate Courts is also carefully assessing its manpower needs.
Robust and Comprehensive Use of Alternative Dispute Resolution
- Court based mediation was introduced in the early 1990s. Through court based mediation, a large majority of cases are successfully resolved without the need for protracted adjudication. Through this, parties experience time and costs savings, and the underlying problems of the parties are resolved.
Active Case Management at Pre-Trial Conferences
- At PTCs, Judges explore avenues to resolve or narrow down legal and factual issues or disputes. In addition, PTC Judges give appropriate directions, set and monitor timelines for the expeditious progress of the cases. Through such active case management, the pace of litigation is controlled and there is reduction in wastage of trial time to ensure proper usage of scarce judicial resources.
Use of Technology
- Technology is used, wherever practical, to make work processes more effective and efficient. Since 2000, the Electronic Filing System (“EFS”) for all civil matters (and subsequently, family matters) has helped to reduce the manual work in processing documents for filing and hearing.
- For criminal cases (other than regulatory offences), the Subordinate Courts Case Recording and Information Management System (“SCRIMS”) provides a seamless flow of critical case information across various agencies in the justice delivery chain, from the police and the Attorney-General’s Chambers to the Subordinate Courts and the prisons authorities.
- For regulatory cases, the Regulatory Offences Case Management System (“ROMS”), allows offenders to register their attendance for Court hearings and obtain more information about their cases at self-service kiosks located outside the Courts. Prosecuting agencies and enforcement units are also able to access instant updates on the cases through ROMS. This case management system has streamlined the otherwise paper-intensive processes and helped to cut down manual labour.
Continuous Improvement in Processes
- Since 2009, the Subordinate Courts had adopted a framework requiring all units to constantly review and cut down the number of steps in their work processes. This has resulted in numerous improvements to existing procedures.
- Whether temporary staff are hired at the Subordinate Courts and, if so, in what roles:
- Temporary staff are hired to augment permanent staff at the Subordinate Courts. They are deployed mainly as court officers, office attendants and typists. Subordinate Courts is studying ways in which there can be less reliance on temporary staff.
Last updated on 25 Nov 2012