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Going for conciliation in the State Courts

Conciliation may be provided by the courts or other organisations besides the courts.

Note
This page describes conciliation by the State Courts' Court Dispute Resolution Cluster (CDRC). The details listed below may not apply to conciliation by other organisations.

Before the conciliation session

Factors to consider

You should consider the following factors before the conciliation session:

  • Your main concerns that have to be addressed to resolve the dispute.
    • For example, monetary compensation, preserving the relationship with the other party or acknowledgement of wrongdoing.
  • The strengths and weaknesses of your case.
  • The risks involved in the case proceeding for a trial.
  • The likely costs of proceeding for a trial (in terms of time, legal costs and reputation) and whether you are prepared to bear it.
  • The possible ways of settling the dispute through conciliation, and how the other party is likely to react to these suggestions.

What to prepare

Before attending conciliation, you should:

  • Submit a hard copy of your written opening statement to the CDRC no later than 2 working days before the date of the first session.
    • Your opening statement must be prepared according to Opening Statement for Plaintiff/Defendant (Conciliation) (Form 9J(A), State Courts Practice Directions).
    • Note: Keep the statement concise and within 10 pages. Include suggested solutions for the dispute.
    • You should serve the opening statement on all other parties in the dispute. You are free to choose how you would like to do so. For example, you may send the opening statement via email or post. You do not need to engage a lawyer or a court process server for this.
  • Prepare all relevant documents relating to your dispute.
    • These may include letters, email exchanges, invoices, contractual agreements, expert reports and photographs.
  • Set aside sufficient time in your schedule to attend the session.
    • In general, a dispute may be resolved after 1 to 3 sessions. Each session usually takes about 3 hours. The duration and number of sessions may vary depending on the complexity of the case and the parties' attitudes.
  • Keep an open mind
    • The purpose of conciliation is for you to communicate with the other party. Be prepared to listen to the other party and work together to arrive at an agreement.

If you are representing an organisation or company, ensure that you have the full authority to negotiate and decide the outcome. If you have to consult someone during the session, ensure that you are able to contact the person via phone.

At your conciliation session

On the day of your conciliation session, you should:

  • Arrive early.
  • Bring along all relevant documents relating to your dispute.

You can expect the following stages at your CDRC conciliation session.

The stage

What happens

Preliminary meeting

The lawyers will brief the judge about the facts of the dispute and issues to be discussed.

You and the other party do not need to be present.

(If at least one party is not represented, the judge may not call for this preliminary meeting.)

Joint meeting

The judge will introduce you to the process and ground rules. You and the other party will have a chance to speak about the dispute. The judge will facilitate the discussion and guide you to possible solutions.

Separate meetings

If necessary, the judge may hold separate meetings with either you or the other party. You can raise your concerns with the judge and the judge may provide suggestions for a possible settlement.

You may have several of such meetings.

After your conciliation

If an agreement is reached

You and the other party will meet the judge to review, confirm and record the terms and conditions of the settlement.

If any party fails to comply with the terms of the settlement agreement, the other may enforce it as a court order. There is no need for another hearing before a judge.

If no agreement is reached

The judge may recommend other dispute resolution options or direct both parties to take steps to proceed to a trial.

The judge who may have conducted your conciliation will not be the judge conducting the trial. The information discussed during the conciliation process will remain confidential and will not be revealed to the trial judge.

Need help?

The information here is for general guidance as the courts do not provide legal advice. If you need further help, you may want to get independent legal advice.

Find out more

Resources

Refer to the guide on conciliation in the State Courts (PDF, 405 KB).

Refer to:

Related questions

Ensure that both you and your client (if the client's attendance is required) set aside sufficient time for the conciliation session.

If the client is representing an organisation or company, ensure that they have been given the authority to settle the case. If your client has to consult someone, ensure that they are able to contact the person via phone during the session.



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