1. The Family Justice Rules 2014 (FJR) regulates and prescribes the procedure and the practice to be followed in all proceedings in the Family Justice Courts (FJC).
2. In line with the recommendations made in the Report of the Committee to Review and Enhance Reforms in the Family Justice System, the FJC has been undertaking a comprehensive review and redesign of the FJR. The FJR will be amended and will comprise 3 volumes (collectively, the “new Rules”):
3. The draft is subject to changes as it is subject to the approval by the Family Justice Rules Committee. The finalised version will be published in the Gazette in advance before the new Rules come into force.
4. Some key changes are highlighted below. This list is not intended to be exhaustive, and stakeholders should refer to the draft version of the new Rules for the entire suite of changes to be made.
Simplification and streamlining of the Rules
5. The new Rules will be organised into Parts and are arranged according to the life cycle of a case. The General Rules comprise 28 Parts and the Probate Rules, 19 Parts.
6. The provisions will be referred to by their Part and Rule, e.g. Part X, Rule Y. The Rule numbering will restart in each Part. This allows for neater and simpler referencing.
7. The Rules have also been simplified, with less than 800 provisions over the 3 volumes – a significant reduction from the current FJR which comprises more than 1,000 provisions.
8. In line with the Rules of Court 2021 (ROC 2021), the new Rules will simplify the terms used and generally adopt the nomenclature of the ROC 2021. This aims to make the rules more accessible to the public. Certain terms are also further simplified in the General Rules, some of which are summarised below:
|FJR 2014||GENERAL RULES||PROBATE RULES|
|DEFENDANT||Respondent*||Defendant (no change)**|
|EX PARTE||Without notice||Without notice|
|GARNISHEE ORDER||Enforcement order for attachment of a debt||Enforcement order for attachment of a debt|
|LEAVE OF COURT||Permission of court||Permission of court|
|MEMORANDUM OF APPEARANCE||Notice to contest*||Notice of intention to contest or not contest**|
|ORIGINATING CLAIMS||Originating application||Originating application|
|STAY OF EXECUTION||Stay of enforcement||Stay of enforcement|
|SUBPOENA||Order to attend Court or produce documents||Order to attend Court or produce documents|
|TAXATION (OF COSTS)||Assessment (of costs)||Assessment (of costs)|
|WRIT OF EXECUTION||Enforcement order||Enforcement order|
|WRIT OF SUMMONS||Nil||Originating claim**|
* Note: These terms are unique to the General Rules and differ from the ROC 2021.
** Note: These terms follow the ROC 2021.
Expansion of the simplified track for divorce and judicial separation proceedings: Part 2, Rule 8 of the General Rules
9. In the new Rules, the simplified track for divorce proceedings will be expanded to also cover proceedings for judicial separation.
10. Additionally, the simplified track will also be available so long as parties have reached an agreement on the grounds for divorce or judicial separation, even if they have not reached an agreement on the ancillary matters. This will allow parties to expedite and obtain their Interim Judgment on an uncontested basis, moving on to focus on the ancillary matters.
Replacing the fact and position sheet with the joint summary in ancillary matters proceedings: Part 2, Rule 18 of the General Rules
11. The new Rules will now require parties to file a Binding Summary setting out a summary of the parties’ respective positions. A party is bound by his or her position as set out in the party’s summary.
12. In the Binding Summary, parties are required to refer to the relevant affidavit evidence which supports their position on any given issue. Accordingly, the Court may treat those references as being conclusive of the best evidence that the party relies on in support of their position.
Harmonising the number of affidavits to be filed: Part 5, Rules 12 and 15 of the General Rules
13. The new Rules will align the process for most applications. Regardless of whether an application is filed by way of an Originating Application or by way of a Summons, the applicant will file a single supporting affidavit and the respondent will file a single reply affidavit. After both parties have filed one affidavit each, the matter can then be fixed for hearing with no further affidavit to be filed without permission of the court.
14. The new Rules are expected to come into force no earlier than December 2023, along with the necessary changes to the eLitigation system. To give stakeholders sufficient time to be familiar with, and prepare for, the new Rules, a draft version of the new Rules has been made available here for interim reference.