1. Under the new Rules of Court 2021 (“ROC 2021”), the Court must consider all matters necessary to bring the proceedings to a conclusion in accordance with the Ideals.(1) In order to achieve this, the interlocutory matters have to be streamlined.
2. Therefore, the Single Application Pending Trial (“SAPT”) aims to prevent parties from litigating in a step-by-step fashion and in the process, generating a host of interlocutory applications and appeals. Such an approach increases costs for parties and the time taken before a case is ready for trial.
3. As far as possible, the Court must order a single application pending trial (“SAPT”) to be made by each of the parties.(2) This means that each party must file one SAPT (and not for all parties to jointly file one SAPT). The SAPT must deal with all matters that are necessary for the case to proceed expeditiously.(3)
4. No. An SAPT does not mean that parties are restricted to a single interlocutory relief. It also does not mean that the SAPT will be heard before the same Judge/Registrar at the same hearing. The matters in SAPTs can be disposed of over several hearings. They can be placed before Judges and/or Registrars.
5. The matters to be included in the SAPT include but are not limited to(4):
(a) Addition or removal of parties;
(b) Consolidation of actions;
(c) Division of issues at trial to be heard separately;
(d) Security for costs;
(e) Further and better particulars of pleadings;
(f) Amendment of pleadings;
(g) Filing of further pleadings;
(h) Striking out of part of an action or of the defence;
(i) Judgment on admission of facts;
(j) Determination of questions of law or construction of documents;
(k) Production of documents;
(l) Interim relief;
(m) Expert evidence and assessors;
(n) Independent witness and interested non-parties; and
(o) Independent counsel.
6. The Court will give directions at a Case Conference, usually at a Registrar Case Conference, for the SAPT to be filed. Under ROC 2021, the Court must order the applying party to file and serve that party’s application and supporting affidavit within 21 days after the date of the Case Conference.(5) At the same Case Conference, the Court will ordinarily also order the other party to file and serve an affidavit in reply within 21 days thereafter.(6) The supporting affidavit and reply affidavit should ordinarily address all matters in the SAPT unless otherwise directed by the Court.
7. The Court may order written submissions to be filed with a bundle of authorities if appropriate.(7)
8. There are two potential scenarios where a party may wish to file applications before the Court gives directions for the filing of the SAPTs:
(a) Scenario 1: The application concerns one of the matters under Order 9 rule 9(7) of ROC 2021 (for ease of reference, this list will be called the “Carve-Out List” in this Digest) –
(i) An injunction or a search order which may include an application for any other matter if it is incidental to the injunction or search order;
(ii) Substituted service;
(iii) Service out of Singapore;
(iv) Setting aside service of an originating process;
(v) Judgment in default of a notice of intention to contest or not contest an originating claim;
(vi) Judgment in default of defence;
(vii) Summary judgment;
(viii) Striking out of the whole of an action or defence;
(ix) Stay of the whole action;
(x) Stay of enforcement of a judgment or order;
(xi) An enforcement order;
(xii) Permission to appeal;
(xiii) Transfer of proceedings under the State Courts Act;
(xiv) Setting aside third party proceedings; or
(xv) Permission to make an application for a committal order.
(b) Scenario 2: The application does not concern one of the matters under the Carve-Out List and includes one or more matters under the list at paragraph 5 above.
9. If a party is seeking one or more reliefs under the Carve-Out List, permission of the Court is not required to file the application prior to the Court’s directions for the SAPTs to be filed.(8) Generally, a Registrar will conduct a Case Conference but the Registrar may refer any matter to a Judge and the Judge will be actively involved from the outset and as cases progress, working with the parties to find the best way to resolve each case, and eliminating extraneous issues.(9) Further, the Ideals in the new Rules will serve as a lodestar for the orders and directions to be made at the Case Conference regardless of whether the Case Conference is conducted by a Judge or Registrar.
10. If a party is not seeking relief(s) under the Carve-Out List prior to the Court’s directions for the SAPTs to be filed, the party would need to seek permission of the Court to do so.(10)
11. This may be done by way of a request by letter to the Court setting out the essence of the intended application and the reasons why it is necessary at that stage of the proceedings.(11)
12. The Court may deal with the request by letter summarily or fix a Case Conference to deal with the matter.(12)
13. Parties should not assume that permission for such requests to file applications will be given. Therefore, it is important for parties to ensure that their pleadings (whether the Statement of Claim for the Claimant or the Defence for the Defendant) are properly drafted when they are first filed.
14. Yes, subject to the caveat in Section G (paragraphs 16 to 17) below, a party may file applications after the SAPTs have been filed or dealt with. However, the Court’s approval is required to file further applications other than those found in the SAPT.(13) Permission of the Court may be sought by way of letter setting out the essence of the intended application and the reasons why it is necessary at that stage of the proceedings. Parties are required explain to the Court why this was not contemplated earlier or why it was not included in the SAPT.
15. As with requests to file applications prior to the SAPT, the Court may deal with the request by letter summarily or fix a Case Conference to deal with the matter.(14)
16. Under ROC 2021, no application may be taken out during the period starting 14 days before the commencement of the trial and ending when the Court has determined the merits of the action, except in a special case and with the trial Judge’s approval. (15) Parties should therefore plan ahead and take out their applications as part of the SAPT, and refrain from taking out applications close to the trial which may result in adjournment of the trial dates.
17. The trial Judge’s approval must be sought by letter setting out the essence of the intended application and explaining why this is a special case.(16)
18. Generally, in a case where the Court has not made a direction for Affidavits of Evidence-in-Chief (“AEICs”) to be filed prior to production of documents, the Court will give directions for the SAPT to be filed after parties have given production of documents (i.e. after general production of documents has been completed).
19. In cases where the Court has made a direction for AEICs to be filed before production of documents, the Court will give directions for SAPTs to be filed after the AEICs have been filed and served.
20. See Annex A for a sample SAPT.
21. After the SAPTs are filed by the parties, the Court may direct parties to file an SAPT Checklist. The SAPT Checklist is intended for parties to indicate their preferred sequence of the matters set out in the SAPT. The Court will give directions for the SAPT Checklist to be prepared in the following manner(17):
(a) At the point of filing the SAPT, the party filing the SAPT (“the Applicant”) must complete columns A, B and C of the SAPT Checklist Template and serve it on respondent (“the Respondent”) – see Sample SAPT Checklist Template to be sent by Applicant to Respondent(s) at Annex B;
(b) The parties are to confer on the Applicant’s proposed sequence of the matters to be heard as set out in column C of the SAPT Checklist; and
(c) Where the parties agree on the proposed sequence for the matters to be heard as set out in column C of the SAPT Checklist, the Respondent is to indicate this in column D of the SAPT Checklist.
(d) Where the Respondent does not agree to the whole or any part of the Applicant’s proposed sequence for the matters to be heard as set out in column C of the SAPT Checklist, the Applicant is to include brief reasons for the Applicant’s position, and the Respondent is to set out in column D of the SAPT Checklist the Respondent’s proposed sequence for the matters to be heard as well as brief reasons for the Respondent’s position.
(e) The Respondent must file the completed SAPT Checklist at least one week before the date of the RCC where the issue of the filing of the SAPT will be discussed, or within such other period as the Court may direct – see Sample SAPT Checklist to be sent by Respondent(s) to the Court at Annex C.
22. Directions may be given by the Court for the soft copy of the SAPT Checklist in Microsoft Word format to be sent via email to the Registry.
23. The Court will then issue the Court’s Directions on SAPT to inform parties of the sequence of the matters to be heard for the respective SAPTs.
IN THE GENERAL DIVISION OF THE HIGH COURT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SINGAPORE
SINGLE APPLICATION PENDING TRIAL
[To: Solicitors for the Claimant]
Let all parties concerned attend before the Court to be assigned for a hearing or hearings of an application by the Defendant for the following order(s):
1. The Claimant be ordered to furnish security for costs for $60,000 up to completion of production of documents and pending the furnishing of security, the claim by the Claimant be stayed.
2. The Defendant be granted permission to amend the Defence dated [X] (“the Defence”) in the manner as deleted and underlined in the draft of the Defence (Amendment No. 1) that is annexed at Appendix A.
3. The Claimant be ordered to furnish further & better particulars within 14 days in the manner set out in the schedule annexed at Appendix B.
4. Paragraphs 4, 5 & 8 of the Claimant’s Statement of Claim be struck out.
5. The Claimant be ordered to produce documents in the manner set out in the schedule annexed at Annex C.
6. The liability of the Claimant be determined at the trial and, if the Defendant is found liable, for damages to be assessed by the Court subsequently.
7. The Defendant be granted permission to call Prof. [X] as the Defendant’s witness on the issue of [X] at the trial on liability, on the basis that [set out basis].
The grounds of the application can be found in the supporting affidavit filed by [X] dated [X].
|Matter in SAPT|
|Applicant’s Proposed Sequence for the Matters to be Heard (C)||Respondent’s Proposed Sequence for Matters to be Heard (D)|
|1||Security for costs against Claimant||1|
|2||Amend Defence as exhibited in Appendix A||2|
|3||FBPs against Claimant for paragraph X & Y of the Statement of Claim||2|
|4||Striking out of paragraph Z of the Claimant’s Statement of Claim||2|
|5||Production of documents against Claimant (see Schedule at Appendix B)||3|
|6||Division of issues at trial to be heard separately||4|
*This Digest highlights certain key features and points of note, which are intended to assist court users in navigating the Rules of Court 2021 (“ROC 2021”), and serves to provide general information only. Reference should always be made to the relevant provisions in the ROC 2021, any applicable written law and practice directions, and any applicable guidance that may be found in case law. This, and the other digests, do not, in any way, affect the Court’s exercise of its discretion. The Court may, based on the circumstances of each case, depart from the digests. The digests are not intended to be, and should not be construed as, legal advice, and may be revised from time to time.
(1) O 9 r 9(1) of ROC 2021.
(2) O 9 r 9(2) of ROC 2021.
(3) O 9 r 9 (3) of ROC 2021.
(4) O 9 r 9(4) of ROC 2021.
(5) O 9 r 9(5) of ROC 2021.
(6) O 9 r 9(5) of ROC 2021.
(7) O 9 r 9(6) of ROC 2021.
(8) O 9 r 9(7) of ROC 2021.
(9) Paragraph 13, Report of the Civil Justice Review Committee.
(10) O 9 r 9(8) of ROC 2021.
(11) O 9 r 9(8) of ROC 2021.
(12) O 9 r 9(9) of ROC 2021.
(13) O 9 r 9(8) of ROC 2021.
(14) O 9 r 9(9) of ROC 2021.
(15) O 9 r 9(10) of ROC 2021.
(16) O 9 r 9(11) of ROC 2021.
(17) Further information can be found in the Supreme Court Practice Directions 2021.