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What is a case conference

The case conference is a hearing where the court takes control of, sets timelines and gives directions for the proceedings. Generally, the case conference at the State Courts is conducted by a deputy registrar, who may also refer any matter to a districtjudge.

The case conference is conducted to enhance efficiency and the speed of adjudication, to maintain costs at reasonable levels, and to achieve the over-arching ideals set out in the Rules of Court 2021. The 5 ideals are:

  1. Fair access to justice.
  2. Expeditious proceedings.
  3. Cost-effective work proportionate to the:
    • Nature and importance of the action.
    • Complexity of the claim as well as the difficulty or novelty of the issues and questions it raises
    • Amount or value of the claim.
  4. Efficient use of court resources.
  5. Fair and practical results suited to the needs of the parties.

These ideals will also be invoked to guide the court’s exercise of certain powers. In particular, where there is:

  • No rule governing a matter, what the court does must be consistent with the ideals. In exercising any power, the court may impose any condition or give such directions that are appropriate.
  • Non-compliance with any rule, any practice directions or any order or direction by the court, the court may dismiss, stay or set aside the proceedings, and give an appropriate judgment or order, even though the non-compliance could be compensated by costs, if the non-compliance is inconsistent in a material way with any of the ideals.

When will the case conference be conducted

The case conference will be scheduled for all originating claims about 7 weeks after a defence has been filed in the action. If necessary, the court may conduct it earlier or later.

Once the case conference is scheduled, the claimant and any other party who has filed a notice of intention to contest or not contest the claim and/or a defence will receive a notice informing them of the date of the case conference.

Attendance is compulsory

It is compulsory to attend the case conference. 

If you are the claimant and you are absent, the court may dismiss the action. 

If you are the defendant and you are absent, the court may give judgment for the claimant, if there is proof that you have been served the originating claim or originating application.

What to bring

You should bring the following for your case conference:

  • Your identity card (NRIC), work permit, passport or other official identification documents that have your photo and personal particulars (photo ID).
  • Writing material to take notes (such as pens and notepad).

If you are represented by a lawyer, it is necessary for your lawyer to attend the case conference.

Tip

If you have lost your NRIC, work permit or passport and do not have any other photo ID, you can bring documents that support your reasons for not having a photo ID.

For example, you should bring along a police report as evidence of the loss of your NRIC. Alternatively, you can also show correspondences with the relevant agencies such as the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) as evidence of your attempts at obtaining a replacement NRIC or Passport.

How is the case conferences conducted

The court will take steps to manage your case at the case conference to enhance efficiency and the speed of adjudication, maintain costs at reasonable levels, and to achieve the over-arching ideals set out in the Rules of Court 2021

The steps taken may differ based on the case conference framework that applies to your case. There are 4 case management frameworks that apply to proceedings in the State Courts.

  1. Specially managed civil list (SMCL).
  2. Simplified process pursuant to Order 65 of the Rules of Court 2021 (Simplified Process).
  3. Court dispute resolution (CDR) process.
  4. General process. 
Note

You will be informed in the notice which of the frameworks apply to your matter. Click the above links to find out more about the frameworks and how the case conference will be conducted under each framework.

The general steps that the court may take include:

  • Encouraging the parties to co-operate in the conduct of the proceedings.
  • Assisting parties to identify and narrow down issues at an early stage.
  • Dealing with any interlocutory applications.
    • This may include applications for amendment of pleadings, security for costs or the selection of a single joint expert to give expert evidence on behalf of both parties to the case.
    • The court may not require parties to file affidavits for such applications and may deal with them summarily.
  • Considering with the parties whether the likely benefits of any step proposed to be taken by a party would justify the costs that will be incurred.
  • Encouraging the parties to settle the whole or part of the case.
  • Giving directions as the court thinks fit in order to ensure that the case progresses quickly.
  • Fixing timelines to manage and control the progress of the case.
  • Taking actions as the court thinks appropriate in the circumstances.

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

Go to Step-by-step guide

Step-by-step guide

2022/06/29

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