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Role of the State Courts

The State Courts are part of the court system in Singapore that upholds the law and ensures justice is accessible to all. It has judicial power to hear both criminal and civil matters.

Each year, the State Courts handle about 90 per cent of the overall caseload in Singapore and about 99 per cent of the total criminal caseload.

View the vision, mission and values of the State Courts.

Types of courts in the State Courts

The State Courts are made up of the following courts and tribunals:

  • District Courts.
  • Magistrates' Courts.
  • Coroners' Courts.
  • Small Claims Tribunals.
  • Community Disputes Resolution Tribunals.
  • Employment Claims Tribunals.

Jurisdiction: what the courts can hear

The courts and tribunals within the State Courts deal with the following types of cases.

(Note: Scroll within the table to see more.)

 

Criminal cases

Civil cases

District Courts

Criminal cases where the maximum imprisonment term does not exceed 10 years or which are punishable with a fine only.

Civil claims of more than $60,000 and up to $250,000 in value. (Or up to $500,000 for claims for road traffic accidents or personal injuries from industrial accidents).

Magistrates' Courts

Criminal cases where the maximum imprisonment term does not exceed 5 years or which are punishable with a fine only.

Civil claims not exceeding $60,000 in value.

Coroners' Courts

The Coroner's Courts conduct inquiries into sudden or unnatural deaths or where the cause of death is unknown.

Not applicable.

Small Claims Tribunals

Not applicable.

Claims not exceeding $20,000 in value (or $30,000 if both parties consent in writing) for disputes involving any of the following:

  • A contract for the sale of goods or provision of services.
  • An unfair practice relating to a hire-purchase agreement.
  • A tort in respect of damage caused to property.
  • A contract relating to a lease of residential premises not exceeding 2 years
  • Certain statutory claims.

Community Disputes Resolution Tribunals

Not applicable.

Claims not exceeding $20,000 for disputes between neighbours involving unreasonable interferences with the enjoyment or use of places of residence.

Employment Claims Tribunals

Not applicable.

Claims not exceeding $20,000 in value (or $30,000 for tripartite-mediated disputes) for disputes between employers and employees involving salary or wrongful dismissal.

Specialised District Courts and Magistrates' Courts

Some of the District Courts and Magistrates' Courts are designated as specialised courts.

These include the Criminal Mentions Court, Community Criminal Court, Traffic Court, Night Courts and Protection from Harassment Court.

Criminal Mentions Courts

Accused persons are produced at the Criminal Mentions Court when the prosecution is ready to formally file charges against them. There are 2 Criminal Mentions Courts in the State Courts: one deals with District Arrest Cases and the other deals with Magistrates' Arrest Cases.

At the Criminal Mentions Court, the charge is read and explained to the accused. The judge can sentence accused persons who plead guilty to the charge. If the accused persons intend to plead guilty to certain categories of offences, the judge will transfer these cases to one of the sentencing courts.

The judge can also hear and grant appropriate applications by the prosecution or the accused. These include bail applications, applications to detain an accused person for further investigations and applications to engage defence counsel. If the accused claims trial, the judge will schedule the case for a pre-trial conference before trial dates are decided by the court.

Community Criminal Court

The Community Criminal Court hears criminal cases where there may be underlying causes of criminality that need to be addressed. It employs a problem-solving approach that combines criminal justice and community resources. It is committed to the dual principles of rehabilitation and prevention, in addition to deterrence and retribution.

Examples of cases it hears include:

  • Cases involving youth offenders (at least 16 but below 21 years old).
  • Cases involving offenders with mental illness and special needs.
  • Selected cases involving offenders aged 65 years and above.
  • Cases involving family violence.
  • Cases involving shop theft.
  • Cases involving abuse and cruelty to animals.
  • Cases which impact race relations issues.

Refer to the Community Criminal Court brochure (PDF, 186 KB) for more information.

Traffic Court

The Traffic Court primarily hears traffic offences. The cases it hears include:

  • Fresh traffic arrest cases, such as drink driving.
  • Traffic Police (TP) summonses or notices where there are no offers of composition.
  • Land Transport Authority (LTA) summonses or notices where there are no offers of composition.

It is both a mentions court as well as a trial court. As a mentions court, the Traffic Court hears applications for bail, remand and adjournments, and manages the cases that come before the Traffic Court.

Night Courts

The Night Courts deal with regulatory and traffic offences. The Night Courts' operating hours are from 6.00pm onwards on Mondays to Thursdays.

There are 2 Night Courts in State Courts, each hearing a specific profile of cases:

  • Summonses and notices issued by government departments, such as the Housing & Development Board (HDB), Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), Central Provident Fund (CPF) Board or Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA).
  • Road traffic offences brought to the court by the TP or LTA.

Protection from Harassment Court

The Protection from Harassment Court deals with all matters under the Protection from Harassment Act. It offers victims a one-stop solution for effective and holistic relief.



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