This page describes the pre-trial processes for civil cases begun by a Writ of Summons (Writ) and heard in the Magistrate’s Court (non-injury motor accident action and any action for personal injuries), the District Court, and the General Division of the High Court.
Refer to Start a civil claim by Writ of Summons (simplified civil process) or Respond to a civil claim made by a Writ of Summons (simplified civil process) instead if either of the following applies to your case:
The court may direct parties to attend a pre-trial conference (PTC) for a civil case at any time before a trial. Depending on the nature of your case, you may go through several PTCs.
In general, the court may consider the following at a PTC:
All parties will be informed by the court of the date and time to attend PTCs via a notice (Form 64, Rules of Court). Each party must comply with the directions stated in the notice, if any.
You or your lawyer (if any) must attend the PTC. If you filed the claim (the plaintiff) and you or your lawyer (if any) do not attend, the court may dismiss your claim or make any other order as the court thinks fit.
If the claim is made against you (the defendant) and you or your lawyer (if any) do not attend, the court may strike out your defence or make any other order at the court's discretion.
When you will have to attend a PTC during your civil case depends on where your case is heard.
When attending the PTC, you should inform the court of the following:
Once all pre-trial matters and applications are dealt with, the court will schedule a date for the civil trial.
Certain categories of cases take a significantly longer time to be resolved due to their complexity. These categories of cases are known as the specially managed civil list (SMCL).
The following categories of cases are included in the SMCL where the value of the claim exceeds $150,000:
After the close of pleadings, SMCL cases are tracked by a designated team of judicial officers who will deal with all the pre-trial matters during PTCs. In general, SMCL PTCs are conducted asynchronously.
Refer to the State Courts Registrar's Circular No. 3 of 2020 to find out how SMCL PTCs are conducted and what you can expect.
If you are the plaintiff and do not serve the Writ, the first PTC will usually be scheduled 6 weeks after the filing of the Writ.
PTCs in the General Division of the High Court are usually conducted by court officers called registrars. At PTCs, the registrar may give directions on any of the following to progress the case in a quick and fair manner:
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