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).
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:
|Mediation||Mediation 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. |
|Conciliation||Conciliation 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 evaluation||Neutral 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.|
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.
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.
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.