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Registrar's Circular No. 11 2020

  1. Pursuant to Registrar’s Circulars No. 8 and 9 of 2020, it was announced that during the Relevant Period (from 7 April 2020 to 1 June 2020), all civil hearings other than hearings of essential and urgent matters would be re-scheduled to a date after 1 June 2020.
  2. The Civil Justice Division will be implementing the following pilot programmes from 8 June 2020 to 8 December 2020 (both dates included) to streamline proceedings and reduce physical court hearings:
    • the dispensation of attendance of counsel and/or parties at specified hearings;
    • the asynchronous processing and hearing of Summonses filed on an ex parte basis under the Rules of Court (Cap 322, R 5) (“ex parte Summons(es)”); and
    • the asynchronous processing and hearing of Summonses For Directions (“SFD(s)”) pursuant to Order 16, Order 25 and Order 37 of the Rules of Court.

A. DISPENSATION OF ATTENDANCE AT SPECIFIED HEARINGS

  1. Registrar’s Circular No. 3 of 2009 (“RC 3 of 2009”) allowed the dispensation of physical attendance of counsel at hearings where the following orders would be sought:
    • withdrawal of a Registrar’s Appeal (“RA”) by consent;
    • adjournment of the hearing for Garnishee Order to Show Cause as the Order to Show Cause has yet to be served; and
    • discharge of a Garnishee Order to Show Cause by consent as there are no monies with the garnishee.
  2. The present Registrar’s Circular will expand on the scope of RC 3 of 2009. With effect from 8 June 2020, the Civil Justice Division will pilot the dispensation of attendance of counsel and/or parties at hearings where parties are seeking:
    • the withdrawal of an Originating Summons, inter partes Summons and/or RA, by consent, where:
      • all orders in respect of withdrawal, including costs, are agreed; or
      • all orders (save for costs) in respect of withdrawal are agreed, and parties agree that the Court may fix costs pursuant to parties’ written submissions;
    • an order in terms of the prayers stated in an Originating Summons, inter partes Summons and/or RA by consent, where:
      • all orders (including costs) have been agreed for the full disposal of the relevant application after the filing of the application; or
      • all orders (save for costs) have been agreed for the full disposal of the relevant application after the filing of the application, and parties agree that the Court may fix costs pursuant to parties’ written submissions;
    • the discharge of a Garnishee Order to Show Cause by consent;
    • the discharge of an Examination of Judgment Debtor Order;
    • the withdrawal of ex parte Originating Summonses or Summonses, where the costs order sought is “no order as to costs” or where the applicant agrees that the Court may fix costs pursuant to the applicant’s written submissions;
    • directions to be given in Case Management Conferences, where parties consent to the said directions and/or consent to the Court giving directions after considering parties’ written submissions on the same;
    • the recording of settlement terms or consent judgments by the Deputy Registrar conducting the relevant Case Management Conference, and the fixing of costs where parties agree that the Court may fix costs pursuant to parties’ written submissions; and
    • orders to be made on any contested interlocutory application, Originating Summons or RA, where all parties are represented and agree to have all orders (including costs) for the full disposal of the relevant application determined by the Court, based solely on affidavits and written submissions (“Documents-Only Hearing”).
  3. To seek any of the above orders set out in paragraph 4(i) to (v) above, parties are to file a Request through eLitigation, under “Other Hearing Related Request”, attaching the form in Annex A to the Request. Written submissions on costs, if any, are to be e-filed through eLitigation, on the same day as the filing date of the Request. The Request is to be filed at least 5 working days before the next hearing date of the application.
  4. In respect of the orders set out in paragraphs 4(vi) and (vii), the parties are to file a Request through eLitigation, under “Other Hearing Related Request”, to seek the necessary directions/orders from the Deputy Registrar conducting the relevant Case Management Conference. The Request is to be filed at least 5 working days before the Case Management Conference hearing.
  5. After receipt of any Request referred to in paragraphs 5 and 6 above, the orders sought will be examined by the Judge or Registrar, as the case may be, and if all the requirements have been complied with, the order(s) and/or directions may be granted without the attendance of counsel and/or parties.
  6. In respect of the orders set out in paragraph 4(viii):
    • the applicant’s counsel is to file a Request through eLitigation under “Other Hearing Related Request” to seek a Documents-Only Hearing, enclosing documents showing:
      • the consent of all parties to a Documents-Only Hearing; and
      • all parties’ counsel’s certification that all affidavits, written submissions and bundles of authorities for the application have been filed in eLitigation and that the application is ready for hearing.
    • the Request is to be filed at least 5 working days before the next hearing date of the application. The Request shall be rejected in the event of non-compliance with the above conditions in sub-paragraphs 8(i)(a) and (i)(b).
    • For summary judgment, striking out or setting aside applications for which a Summons PreTrial Conference is fixed, the parties are to consider the suitability of their case for a Documents-Only Hearing and to obtain their respective clients’ instructions prior to attending the first Summons Pre-Trial Conference, so that the Court can give the necessary directions for a Documents-Only Hearing, if so ordered by consent.
    • Where a Request for a Documents-Only Hearing is allowed, the Court hearing the application may issue further directions for the fair and effective conduct of the hearing. The Court may issue the orders in respect of the application without requiring the attendance of counsel. Alternatively, a Registrar’s Notice will be issued informing parties of the hearing for delivery of decision.
  7. In all cases where a particular District Judge/Magistrate or a particular Deputy Registrar has been assigned to hear the matter, the Request shall be addressed to the respective District Judge/Magistrate or Deputy Registrar. In all other cases, the Request shall be addressed to the “Registrar”.

B. ASYNCHRONOUS HEARING OF EX PARTE SUMMONSES

  1. With effect from 8 June 2020, the Civil Justice Division will gradually roll out the asynchronous issuance of orders, issuance of directions and/or reception of submissions for all ex parte summonses, without requiring the attendance of counsel or parties.
  2. Practice Directions 24(2) and 24(3) will continue to apply for the first hearing of an ex parte summons. The application will be examined by the Judge or Registrar as the case may be and if the Judge or Registrar is satisfied that the application is in order and all other requirements have been complied with, the Judge or Registrar may make the order(s) applied for without the attendance of the applicant or his counsel.
  3. The following table outlines the steps which will need to be taken by parties
S/No. Categories of Ex Parte Summonses Steps to be taken by Parties
1) Ex parte Summonses filed before 8 June 2020 with a hearing date fixed before 29 June 2020 The applicant will continue to appear before the Court either in person or remotely via video conferencing in accordance with Registrar’s Circular No. 5 of 2020 (“RC 5”).
2) Ex parte Summonses filed before 8 June 2020 with a hearing date fixed on or after 29 June 2020

The applicant is to file written submissions and/or supplementary affidavit(s) supporting the orders he/she wishes to obtain and/or addressing issues previously raised by the Court at least 5 working days before his/her hearing date.

The Court will proceed on the hearing date to consider all documents filed by the applicant by the specified deadline without the attendance of the applicant or his solicitor (hereafter referred to as a “paper” hearing). The Court will then proceed either to issue orders (such as approval or dismissal of the application), or to issue further directions and fix the application for a further “paper” hearing.

Where a further “paper” hearing is fixed, the same process stated above applies.

In the event that the applicant does not file any document by the specified deadline before any “paper” hearing date, the ex parte Summons will be struck out.

3)

Ex parte Summonses already filed with no orders or directions given as at 8 June 2020

And

Ex parte Summonses filed on or after 8 June 2020

For these 2 categories, the applicant will either receive:

  • an order in terms as described at paragraph 11 above; or
  • directions and a “paper” hearing date.

Where a “paper” hearing date is given, the applicant is to file written submissions and/or supplementary affidavit(s) supporting the orders he/she wishes to obtain and/or addressing directions issued by the Court at least 5 working days before his/her hearing date. The Court will proceed on the “paper” hearing date to consider all documents filed by the applicant by the specified deadline. The Court will then proceed either to issue orders (such as approval or dismissal of the application), or to issue further directions and fix the application for a further “paper” hearing.

Where a further “paper” hearing is fixed, the same process stated above for the first “paper” hearing date applies.

In the event that the applicant does not file any document by the specified deadline before any “paper” hearing date, the ex parte Summons will be struck out.

C. ASYNCHRONOUS HEARING OF SUMMONSES FOR DIRECTIONS

  1. With effect from 8 June 2020, the Civil Justice Division will gradually roll out the asynchronous issuance of orders, directions and/or receipt of submissions for all SFDs without requiring the attendance of counsel and/or parties.
S/No. Categories of SFDs Steps to be taken by Parties
1) SFDs filed before 8 June 2020 with a hearing date fixed before 29 June 2020 Parties will continue to appear before the Court either in person or remotely via video conferencing in accordance with RC 5.
2)

SFDs filed before 8 June 2020 with a hearing date fixed on or after 29 June 2020

OR

SFDs filed on or after 8 June 2020 and before 29 June 2020 (i.e. by 28 June 2020)

Parties are to file written submissions and/or supplementary affidavit(s) supporting the orders they wish to obtain and/or addressing issues previously raised by the Court at least 5 working days before their “paper” hearing date.

The Court will proceed on the “paper” hearing date to consider all documents filed by the parties. The Court will then proceed either to issue orders (such as approval or dismissal of the application) or to issue further directions and fix the application for a further “paper” hearing.

Where a further “paper” hearing is fixed, the same process stated above applies.

In the event that no document is filed by any party by the specified deadline before any “paper” hearing date, the SFD will be struck out.

3) SFDs filed on or after 29 June 2020 The new SFD protocol annexed hereto as “Annex B” applies.

D. CONCLUSION

  1. For the avoidance of doubt, for all the above-mentioned categories of hearings and applications, the Court will at all times (during the pilot programmes or otherwise) retain the full discretion to issue directions for parties to attend a physical hearing or remote hearing via video conferencing where it deems fit.
  2. Please also note that, for the purpose of Order 55B r 1(4) of the Rules of Court (as may be applicable to the above-mentioned categories of hearings and applications), any notice of appeal must be issued within 14 days after the date on which the Registry notifies parties via eLitigation of the judgment, order or decision appealed against. For matters governed by Order 55C of the Rules of Court: (a) the Registry will notify parties via eLitigation of the Court’s judgment, order or decision on the same date that the said judgment, order or decision is given or made by the Court; and (b) the prevailing appeal timelines starting from the date of judgment, order or decision as stated in the said provision of the Rules of Court shall continue to apply. In all cases, when parties extract the Order of Court, the date of that Order of Court should remain as the date on which the Court had heard the matter as reflected in eLitigation.
  3. Another Registrar’s Circular will be issued in due course on whether the pilot programme(s) will continue to run after this initial 6-month period from 8 June 2020 to 8 December 2020 (both dates included).

Dated this 8th day of June 2020.

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Registrar's Circular No. 11 2020

2021/08/04

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