Supreme Court Practice Directions
Practice Directions and Registrar’s Circulars are issued by the courts to supplement the Rules of Court by regulating court practice and procedure. Court users are expected to comply with all Practice Directions and Registrar’s Circulars issued by the court. Until 1994, Practice Directions were issued as discrete documents; since then, however, all Practice Directions have been consolidated into a publication known as The Supreme Court Practice Directions.
Chief Justice’s Foreword
On 16 March 2010, the Supreme Court launched the electronic Practice Directions (“e-PD”). Since then, anyone requiring access to the Supreme Court Practice Directions has been able to do so conveniently through the Supreme Court website and even using their mobile devices. The e-PD marked an important step as the online version was deemed the authoritative version and amendments have been made by updating the online version.
We continue to pursue the benefits of technological improvements in the administration of justice and we have just taken the next step in this endeavour when the Supreme Court launched the Integrated Electronic Litigation System (“eLitgation”) on 1 January 2013. This replaced the Electronic Filing System (“EFS”) which has served us well.
eLitigation uses more sophisticated technology than EFS and will permit litigants, lawyers and law firm staff to access case files online and utilise the information within the case files. For example, information about the parties and the subject matter of the case can be utilised to generate summonses, writs of execution and other court documents. Prayers that are included in the summonses can be reproduced in the Court’s online hearing minute sheets and, eventually, form a part of the draft order of court. In addition, electronic bundles, such as bundles of pleadings, bundles of affidavits and the set down bundle, may be created from documents in the case file.
eLitigation re-engineers the existing litigation process in important ways. It has been designed to simplify and reduce the steps required to accomplish various tasks and to do away with documents or steps that have been rendered redundant by technology. For example, parties will no longer be required to file a draft order of court for approval before filing another copy for engrossment. Instead, a draft order of court will automatically be generated by eLitigation and sent to the parties. Requests (formerly praecipe) for writs of execution will no longer be required because stamp fees may be electronically collected upon the filing of the relevant writ of execution.
Given the vast improvements that have been made to the litigation process by eLitigation, it is unsurprising that extensive amendments were required to the Supreme Court Practice Directions. It is therefore timely to launch a new edition of the e-PD.
I warmly commend those involved in developing and implementing eLitigation for their considerable and untiring efforts in working to refine and update the practice of litigation in Singapore.
Sundaresh Menon Chief Justice
Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong’s Foreword to the 2010 Revised Edition
No system of law can do without procedural rules, which are essential in ensuring that just and fair outcomes are reached in all cases. The Practice Directions of the Supreme Court thus play an important role in the Courts’ quest to achieve justice and to uphold the rule of law. At the dawn of this new decade, the Supreme Court has taken the initiative to launch the electronic Practice Directions (“e-PD”), which will ensure that the Practice Directions are more readily accessible and conveniently at hand to the litigation practitioner and the general public than ever before.
A key feature of the e-PD is that it takes full advantage of the benefits that the new media brings. It is accessible from the Supreme Court internet website and will form the authoritative Practice Directions that all lawyers will cite and refer to, replacing the traditional hardcopy version. Future amendments to the Practice Directions will be done online in real time on a paragraph-for-paragraph basis rather than by the previous method of physically replacing amended pages in the hardcopy Practice Directions on a page-for-page basis, thus ensuring a paperless, painless and instant amendment process. Given that the e-PD will be immediately updated with new amendments, the litigation practitioner can be assured that it will always contain the latest directions on practice and procedure.
The e-PD provides a subject matter index and this will serve as a useful conceptual roadmap to the vast terrain of Practice Directions. The e-PD further provides digital search capabilities, allowing for the search of relevant Practice Directions using key words. The key words are then highlighted in the final search results. It is also noteworthy that the e-PD can be freely downloaded (and for free) in its entirety for use offline and hence can function as a portable electronic book. I have no doubt that all these can only lead to greater efficiency and convenience for the modern day practitioner.
I am pleased to launch the e-PD, and I congratulate the Registrar and his team for this innovative project.
Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong