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The court dispute resolution framework

Cases under the court dispute resolution (CDR) framework start with initial case conferences at the State Courts’ CDR Cluster. The initial case conferences are focused on the amicable resolution of disputes. The precise protocols and procedure that apply to these case conferences depend on the matter in dispute.

At the end of the CDR process, if the parties do not reach a full and final settlement, a case conference will be conducted to issue orders and directions for moving the matter to either trial or an assessment of damages. 

    Refer to the following for an overview of the CDR framework:

    CDR-framework

    What cases does the CDR framework apply to

    The CDR framework applies to claims commenced in the following courts:

    The CDR framework applies to:

    • Motor accident claims (including those with a claim for personal injuries).
    • Personal injury claims.
    • Negligence claims including:
      • Medical negligence claims where the claims arose out of an alleged negligent act or omission in connection with medical or dental diagnosis or treatment. 
      • Professional negligence claims.

    The CDR framework applies to claims which commenced on or after 1 April 2022 and are transferred to the District Courts:

    • Motor accident claims (including those with a claim for personal injuries). 
    • Personal injury claims arising out of an industrial accident.

    Initial Case case Conferences conference 

    The precise procedure and protocol for the initial case conference are set out in the State Court Practice Directions 2021: 

    • Paragraph 39 applies to personal injury and non-injury motor accident (NIMA) claims.
    • Paragraph 40 applies to medical negligence claims.
    • Paragraph 41 applies to all other negligence claims, including professional negligence claims. 

    A broad overview of each type of claim is set out below:

    Parties are to comply with the pre-action protocol before commencing court proceedings. The protocol can be found in Appendix B of the State Courts Practice Directions 2021.

    The first court dispute resolution case conference (CDR CC)

    The first CDR CC will be convened within 6 weeks after the defendant files the notice of intention to contest the claim.

    The aim of the CDR CC is to facilitate the amicable resolution of disputes without trial through:

    • An early neutral evaluation (ENE) on the merits of the case.
    • Judge-directed negotiations.
    • Judge-led case management where the court takes control of, sets timelines, and gives directions for the proceedings.
    Preparation for the first CDR CC

    Solicitors must comply with the relevant CDR CC guidelines set out in Appendix C of the State Courts Practice Directions 2021 when preparing for and attending a CDR CC for personal injury claims and NIMA claims.

    Conduct of the CDR CC

    The CDR CC may be conducted by electronic means, such as email, or in person. The court will inform the parties of the details of the CDR CC.

    It is compulsory for the parties to attend the CDR CC. If none of the parties attend the CDR CC, or if the claimant is absent, the court may dismiss the action.

    If the parties are unable to attend the CDR CC, they must request an adjournment at least 2 working days before the date of the CDR CC. The request should be made in the manner stated in the relevant correspondence from the State Courts to the parties.

    During the CDR CC, the court will give appropriate directions. These include:

    • Directions for the parties to prepare for the ENE at the next CDR CC.
    • Directions on the negotiation process between the parties.
    • Case management directions to ensure the timely progress of the case to facilitate an early amicable resolution of the dispute. 
    • Further CDR CC(s), if necessary.
    Settlement

    If the parties reach an agreement on liability for the claim or quantum of damages or both, they must submit Form 7 of Appendix A1 of the State Courts Practice Directions 2021. This is to record the terms of the settlement agreement, or to enter a consent interlocutory judgment or consent judgment.

    No settlement

    If the matter is not disposed of by the court, settled or resolved, the court may make orders or give directions to bring the proceedings to trial. These include directions for:

    • The filing and exchange of affidavits of evidence-in-chief.
    • Appointment of a single joint expert (for actions commenced in the Magistrates’ Courts). 
    • Any other necessary directions.
    Parties are to comply with the pre-action protocol before commencing any court proceedings. The protocol can be found in Appendix E of the State Courts Practice Directions 2021.

    The first court dispute resolution case conference (CDR CC)

    The first CDR CC will be convened within 6 weeks after the defendant files the notice of intention to contest the claim.

    The aim of the CDR CC is to facilitate the amicable resolution of disputes without trial through:

    • An early neutral evaluation (ENE) on the merits of the case. 
    • Judge-directed negotiations.
    • Judge-led case management where the court takes control of, sets timelines, and gives directions for the proceedings.
    Conduct of the CDR CC

    The CDR CC may be conducted by electronic means, such as email, or in person. The court will inform the parties of the details of the CDR CC.

    It is compulsory for the parties to attend the CDR CC. If none of the parties attend the CDR CC, or if the claimant is absent, the court may dismiss the action.

    If the parties are unable to attend the CDR CC, they must request an adjournment at least 2 working days before the date of the CDR CC. The request should be made in the manner stated in the relevant correspondence from the State Courts to the parties.

    During the CDR CC, the court will give appropriate directions. These include:

    • Directions for the parties to prepare for the ENE at the next CDR CC.
    • Directions on the negotiation process between the parties.
    • Case management directions to ensure the timely progress of the case to facilitate an early amicable resolution of the dispute. 
    • Further CDR CC(s), if necessary.
    Settlement

    If the parties reach an agreement on liability for the claim or quantum of damages or both, they must submit Form 7 of Appendix A1 of the State Courts Practice Directions 2021. This is to record the terms of the settlement agreement, or to enter a consent interlocutory judgment or consent judgment.

    No settlement

    If the matter is not disposed of by the court, settled or resolved, the court may make orders or give directions to bring the proceedings to trial. These include directions for:

    • The filing and exchange of affidavits of evidence-in-chief.
    • Appointment of a single joint expert (for actions commenced in the Magistrates’ Courts). 
    • Any other necessary directions.
    The first court dispute resolution case conference (CDR CC)

    The first CDR CC will be convened within 6 weeks after the defendant files the notice of intention to contest the claim.

    The aim of the CDR CC is to facilitate the amicable resolution of disputes without trial through:

    • An early neutral evaluation (ENE) on the merits of the case. 
    • Judge-directed negotiations.
    • Judge-led case management where the court takes control of, sets timelines, and gives directions for the proceedings.
    Conduct of the CDR CC

    The CDR CC may be conducted by electronic means, such as email, or in person. The court will inform the parties of the details of the CDR CC. 

    It is compulsory for the parties to attend the CDR CC. If none of the parties attend the CDR CC, or if the claimant is absent, the court may dismiss the action.

    If the parties are unable to attend the CDR CC, they must request an adjournment at least 2 working days before the date of the CDR CC. The request should be made in the manner stated in the relevant correspondence from the State Courts to the parties.

    During the CDR CC, the court will give appropriate directions. These include:

    • Directions for the parties to prepare for the ENE at the next CDR CC.
    • Directions on negotiation process between the parties. 
    • Case management directions to ensure the timely progress of the case to facilitate an early amicable resolution of the dispute. 
    • Further CDR CC(s), if necessary.
    • Directions for court alternative dispute resolution (Court ADR).
    Court ADR 

    Where appropriate, the court may refer matters to one of the court ADR modalities to facilitate amicable resolution. There are 3 forms of Court ADR:

    MediationMediation is not to determine who is at fault in the dispute. Rather, the mediator will assist the parties in negotiating and agreeing on a possible settlement to their dispute. The relevant procedure is set out at paragraph 42 of the State Courts Practice Directions 2021
    ConciliationConciliation is similar to mediation. It is not to determine who is at fault in the dispute. Instead, the conciliator at the conciliation hearing will assist the parties in negotiating and agreeing on a possible settlement to their dispute. Compared to mediators, conciliators play a more active role in suggesting optimal solutions for the parties. The relevant procedure is set out at paragraph 43 of the State Courts Practice Directions 2021.
    Neutral evaluationNeutral evaluation applies only to civil cases where parties have requested a neutral evaluation. It involves the parties and their solicitors making presentations of their claims and defences, including the available evidence, followed by the judge of the Court Dispute Resolution Cluster giving an assessment of the merits of the case. This process is also useful for helping the parties to arrive at areas of agreement and to discuss methods of case management to save costs and time. The relevant procedure is set out at paragraph 44 of the State Courts Practice Directions 2021.
    Tip

    Refer to Alternatives to trial for more information about ADR.

    In deciding the mode of Court ADR, the Court will consider, amongst other things, the factual matrix and the parties’ preference.

    The primary aim of Court ADR is to facilitate open and frank discussions between parties to help them achieve an amicable resolution of their dispute. As such, all communications made in a Court ADR hearing will be marked by the judge as being confidential or without prejudice, except the terms of the settlement agreement (unless all the parties to the settlement agree to keep it confidential), consent judgments and consent orders of court.

    Settlement

    If the parties reach agreement on the liability for the claim or quantum of damages or both, they must submit Form 7 of Appendix A1 of the State Courts Practice Directions 2021. This is to record the terms of the settlement agreement or to enter a consent interlocutory judgment or consent judgment.

    No settlement

    If the matter is not disposed of by the court, settled or resolved, the court may make orders or give directions to bring the proceedings to trial. These include directions for:

    • The filing and exchange of affidavits of evidence-in-chief.
    • Appointment of a single joint expert (for actions commenced in the Magistrates’ Courts). 
    • Any other necessary directions.

    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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