COVID-19: Singapore courts to hear only essential and urgent matters for 4 weeks

Staff Writer, Singapore
·Editorial Team
·3-min read
COVID-19 precautionary measures being taken at the Supreme Court building on 26 March 2020. (PHOTO: Dhany Osman / Yahoo News Singapore)
Supreme Court building (PHOTO: Dhany Osman / Yahoo News Singapore)

SINGAPORE — Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon has directed the Supreme Court, State Courts and Family Justice Courts to hear only essential and urgent matters during the circuit breaker period announced by the multi-ministry taskforce on COVID-19.

The taskforce on Friday (3 April) unveiled a set of enhanced safe distancing measures to curb the spread of the virus. Among the measures, the government will close most workplaces, except for essential services and those in key economic sectors from 7 April to 4 May, while educational institutions will roll out full home-based learning a day after.

The direction by the CJ applies but is not limited to appeals, trials, applications (interlocutory or otherwise), case management conferences and pre-trial conferences in all three Courts.

“Registrars’ circulars have been issued by each of the three Courts to identify the matters that may be considered to be essential and urgent,” said the three Courts in a joint statement. These matters will be heard, where possible, by electronic means of communication without requiring physical attendance before the Court.

All matters that had been scheduled for hearing during the period which the Court has not assessed to be essential and urgent will be adjourned to another date.

A party may make a request to the relevant Court for such a matter to be heard during the period.

“In particular, in making such a request, parties should be mindful that a hearing is not essential or urgent merely because it is convenient for the parties to have the matter heard early. Further, such a request should not be made if the preparation for and/or conduct of the hearing will entail any breach of safe distancing measures,” the three Courts said.

The Courts’ Registries and other court services will continue to operate during the period to manage the essential and urgent matters. Parties and their representatives should not be visiting the Courts during the period to tender any hard copies or CD-ROMs of any documents. Parties can file documents electronically using the respective Courts’ online case management systems.

To reduce the number of visitors to the Courts, the information counters at the Courts as well as the Supreme Court and State Court Libraries will be closed.

Court users may access the Courts’ websites and e-services or contact the Courts’ Registry officers for their enquiries using the following details:

Supreme Court:

Email: Telephone: 6557 7495

Family Justice Courts:

Email: Telephone: 6435 5398

State Courts:

Email: Telephone: 6587 8423

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