Public Consultation on Proposed Amendments to the Supreme Court of Judicature Act
2 Jul 2018 Posted in Press releases
The Ministry of Law (MinLaw) today launched a public consultation to gather public feedback on proposed amendments to the Supreme Court of Judicature Act (SCJA). The public consultation will run from 2 to 30 July 2018.
MinLaw regularly reviews Singapore’s legal system to ensure that it is progressive, taking into account changing socio-economic needs, technological developments and industry trends. As part of our regular review of Singapore’s civil justice system, MinLaw is amending the SCJA to grant the courts greater flexibility to tailor civil procedures to new trends and the needs of individual cases. The proposed amendments will enhance and improve court processes, and strengthen procedures for cases before the Court of Appeal.
Enhance and improve court processes
- The main proposed amendments to enhance and improve court processes are:
Allowing courts to conduct hearings via video conference or other electronic means. This promotes greater use of technology to enhance efficiency in court processes and helps to reduce time and costs.
Allowing the Rules Committee constituted under the SCJA to make rules relating to how factual or expert evidence is to be adduced. This empowerment of the Rules Committee allows it to take into account developments on the ground and develop rules efficiently to meet these changing needs.
Grant the courts greater powers to control vexatious proceedings. Currently, the High Court is only able to ban all further legal proceedings brought by a vexatious litigant. The proposed amendment will allow the High Court or Court of Appeal to take a more calibrated approach, to act on its own motion to restrain a vexatious litigant to varying degrees, taking into account the facts of each case.
Allowing the courts to impose late filing fees for non-compliance with the Rules of Court, court orders, and practice directions. This will encourage parties and their lawyers to comply with the Rules of Court, court orders and practice directions.
Requiring the leave of court before an application can be made to admit further evidence on appeal. This will encourage parties to present all relevant evidence at the first instance hearing.
Amend the monetary threshold to $60,000 for decisions of the District and Magistrates’ Courts which are appealable with leave to the High Court. Currently, decisions of the District and Magistrates’ Courts are appealable to the High Court with leave if the amount in dispute does not exceed $50,000. However, the jurisdiction of the Magistrates’ Court is $60,000, which results in gap where cases between $50,000 and $60,000 can be appealed to the High Court without leave. The proposed amendment seeks to close this gap.
Strengthen procedures for cases before the Court of Appeal
- Other proposed amendments to strengthen procedures for cases before the Court of Appeal are:
Allowing the Court of Appeal to determine a broader range of matters based on written submissions. This will allow appropriate cases to be dealt with in an expedited manner without the need to conduct hearings.
Allowing the Minister to specify in a Schedule to the SCJA which civil matters may or may not be appealed with leave to the Court of Appeal and the minimum number of judges which may hear appeals and other matters ancillary to appeals. Placing these matters in a Schedule allows the list to be amended quickly to adapt to demands on the ground.
Allowing appeals in civil matters from the State Courts to be brought directly to the Court of Appeal in situations where a ruling by the Court of Appeal is required urgently.
Empowering a Judge of Appeal to hear applications ancillary to a pending appeal. This reduces the need for the appellant to bring a separate appeal in respect of the ancillary matter.
Allowing the Court of Appeal to summarily dismiss appeals or applications on its own motion. The court has the power to do so where it lacks jurisdiction to hear the matter or if the matter relates to an issue that has already been decided by the Court of Appeal.
Invitation for feedback
- Interested parties may view the public consultation paper online at https://www.mlaw.gov.sg/content/minlaw/en/news/public-consultations/Public-Consultation-on-Proposed-Amendments-to-the-Supreme-Court-of-Judicature-Act.html and submit feedback in electronic or hard copy form via:
Legal Policy Division
Ministry of Law
100 High Street
#08-02 The Treasury
Last updated on 02 Jul 2018