Family Justice Courts Practice Directions

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Part XIV – General Matters

158. Weekend / Public Holiday Duty Registrar and Judge at the Family Courts

(1) The Duty Judge at the Family Courts may hear an urgent application from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays under the following circumstances:

(a) where the applicant, being a lawful guardian or parent of a child, is seeking to restrain or enjoin another party from taking the child out of jurisdiction without the consent of the applicant;

(b) the child’s departure from Singapore is so imminent that it would be too late for the application to be heard on the next working day; and

(c) there is a strong likelihood that the child, once taken out of Singapore, will not return to Singapore.

(2) To request the urgent hearing of such an application, the applicant should contact the Weekend / Public Holiday Duty Registrar at 97241402 during the hours of 9 a.m. to 6 p.m on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays.

(3) The Duty Registrar will only arrange for the hearing of the application before the Duty Judge if the applicant satisfies the Duty Registrar that the case meets all the criteria stipulated in sub-paragraph (1).

(4) If the applicant is unable to file the application and supporting affidavits via the electronic filing service (EFS) before the hearing, he / she must give a signed written undertaking to the Court to do so in accordance with Form 259 in Appendix A to these Practice Directions before the application will be heard. The applicant must bring three copies each of the application, the supporting affidavit and the appropriate draft orders of court (Form 260 in Appendix B to these Practice Directions) for the ex parte hearing.

(5) On an ex parte application for an injunction against the permanent removal of a child from Singapore, the Court would require the applicant, to give an undertaking to compensate any party for any loss caused as a result of the application. The Court may require the undertaking as to damages to be supported by —

(a) making payment into Court;

(b) furnishing a banker’s guarantee; or

(c) making payment to the applicant’s solicitor to be held by the solicitor as an officer of the Court pending further order.

(6) An applicant for an order under section 14 of the Guardianship of Infants Act (Cap 122) must prepare the following documents in accordance with the appropriate forms in Appendix A to these Practice Directions and bring them along to the hearing:

(a) the Order of Court being sought (Form 261 in Appendix A to these Practice Directions);

(b) the Writ for Seizure (Form 262 in Appendix A to these Practice Directions);

(c) the Request for Writ for Seizure (Form 263 in Appendix A to these Practice Directions);

(d) the applicant’s letter of undertaking to indemnify the Family Justice Courts and the Bailiff against any liabilities or claims that may arise from or in connection with the execution of the order granted by the Court to the applicant (Form 264 in Appendix A to these Practice Directions);

(e) the applicant’s letter of undertaking to pay compensation / damages and to serve the documents (Form 265 in Appendix A to these Practice Directions); and

(f) the applicant’s counsel’s letter of undertaking to ensure a calm and orderly execution and to pay the costs, expenses and charges of execution should the same not be fully paid by the applicant (Form 266 in Appendix A to these Practice Directions)

(7) The forms in Appendix A to these Practice Directions are intended to make it easier for persons served with the relevant orders to understand what the orders mean. These standard form orders should be used save to the extent that an applicant is of the view that the form should be varied and the Duty Judge hearing a particular application considers that there is a good reason for adopting a different form. Any departure from the terms of the standard forms must be justified by the applicant in his / her supporting affidavit(s).

(8) If an order is granted under section 14 of the Guardianship of Infants Act (Cap 122), the applicant must do the following:

(a) accompany the Bailiff to the place of execution and identify the child to be seized;

(b) instruct his / her solicitor (if any) to accompany the Bailiff;

(c) provide specific address of execution and if the execution is at an airport (whether Singapore Changi or Seletar), solicitor/applicant shall provide the details of flight and terminal number (boundary of seizure at the airport is restricted to public area); and

(d) engage and pay for the costs of an auxiliary police officer to accompany the Bailiff to the place of execution, subject to the condition that where the person against whom the execution is to be carried out or the child / any of the children concerned is a female, the auxiliary police officer shall be a female officer.

(9) For the avoidance of doubt, every applicant must comply with Paragraph 83 of these Practice Directions.

159. Duty Registrar and Duty Magistrate

(1) The duties of the Duty Registrar are —

(a) to hear applications made ex parte or by consent (except probate matters) provided that the summons has been entered in the summonses book;

(b) to grant approval for any matter pertaining to the administration of the Registry, including giving early or urgent dates and allowing inspection of files;

(c) to sign documents to effect sale and transfer of matrimonial assets; and

(d) to sign and certify documents.

(2) The duties of the Duty Magistrate shall include the examination of complainants when they file a Magistrate’s Complaint.

(3) The duty hours shall be as follows:

(a) Mondays to Fridays - 9:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., and 2:15 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

(b) Saturdays - 9:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

(4) Only solicitors (or, where a party is not represented, a litigant in person) shall appear before the Duty Registrar.

(5) Except where the attendance of the advocate and solicitor is required under sub- paragraph (9), the filing of the relevant documents will be sufficient for the Duty Registrar’s disposal of any application or matter. Documents which are filed using the Electronic Filing Service will be returned to the solicitor through the Electronic Filing Service to the inbox of the law firm’s computer system or through the service bureau. Documents which are not electronically filed shall be collected from the relevant Family Registry not earlier than one clear day after the documents have been filed.

(6) All documents which are not required to be filed using the Electronic Filing Service should be duly stamped before presentation to the Duty Registrar for his signature and/or decision.

(7) A solicitor who wishes to attend before a Duty Registrar and to refer him to documents filed using the Electronic Filing Service must either —

(a) file the document sufficiently far in advance before attending before the Duty Registrar such that the documents are already included in the electronic case file for the Duty Registrar’s reference (and in this regard, solicitors should only attend before the Duty Registrar after they have received notification from the Court that the document has been accepted); or

(b) attend before the Duty Registrar with the paper documents, if these exist (and in this regard, the Duty Registrar will require the solicitor to give an undertaking to file all the documents by the next working day after the attendance before dealing with the matter).

(8) Solicitors should register at the relevant Family Registry counter prior to attending before the Duty Registrar.

(9) The advocate and solicitor’s attendance is compulsory only:

(a) when he is requesting an early or urgent date for hearing before the Registrar or Judge;

(b) when an application or document is returned with the direction “Solicitor to Attend”; or

(c) when so required by any provision of law.

(10) A solicitor may, if he wishes to expedite matters, attend before the Duty Registrar even if his attendance is not ordinarily required.

(11) When dealing with the ancillary matters, the Court may grant orders under section 31 of the Family Justice Act empowering the Registrar to sign the documents to effect the sale and transfer of matrimonial assets. These orders fall into two categories:

(a) an order empowering the Registrar to sign the relevant documents without further notice to the party whom the Registrar is signing the documents on behalf of (“Category A orders”); and

(b) an order empowering the Registrar to sign the relevant documents only in the event of a default by a party in signing the relevant documents (“the other party”) despite written notification to him/her to sign the relevant documents (“Category B orders”).

(12) Applications to obtain the signature of the Registrar pursuant to Category A orders and Category B orders shall be made before the Duty Registrar in the Family Justice Courts. The documents to be signed by the Duty Registrar shall contain the following endorsements:

“Signed on behalf of {insert name of party in default} by Registrar, Family Justice Courts, pursuant to order of court dated {insert date}”

(13) Counsel shall furnish the following documents to the Duty Registrar when making such applications:

(a) For Category A orders

(i) The sealed copy of the order of court empowering the Registrar to sign the relevant documents; and

(ii) A duplicate copy of each of the documents to be signed by the Registrar, which will be retained by the Court.

(b) For Category B orders

(i) The documents set out in sub-paragraph (13)(a)(i) and (ii) above.

(ii) An affidavit showing the other party’s default in signing the relevant documents.

(14) The sealed copy of the order of court empowering the Registrar to sign will be returned after the signing of the documents.

160. Attendance of solicitors in Court

(1) Save in the most exceptional and unforeseen circumstances, and so long as the firm of solicitors remains on record, a member of the firm must attend all proceedings in respect of the cause or matter in which the firm is acting, even if it does not intend to oppose the orders sought by the other side. The practice of asking the opposing solicitor to mention the matter on one’s behalf is also not acceptable and should be discouraged.

(2) The court may however allow a solicitor appearing in any cause or matter to mention for counsel for all other parties provided that:

(a) the solicitor obtains confirmation of his authority to mention on their behalf for the purpose of the hearing; and

(b) parties have agreed on the order sought.

(3) However, where an adjournment of the hearing date of any cause or matter is sought, solicitors for all parties must attend the hearing.

161. Use of Skype

(1) The Family Justice Courts will allow solicitors to use Skype, a free and accessible service, to mention ex-parte applications and/or cases in which parties have a consent order.

(2) This will enable solicitors to mention their cases via Skype instead of personally attending Court for many short mentions which generally will not last beyond 10 minutes.

Guidelines and Procedures

(3) Solicitors mentioning their cases via Skype must comply with the guidelines and procedures set out in the Annex to this Paragraph (see below).

Court etiquette

(4) A solicitor mentioning a case via Skype must proceed with the hearing as if he or she were appearing before the Judge in person, and must comply with all Court rules of etiquette as prescribed in these Practice Directions and any relevant Registrar’s Circular.

Adjournment of Skype hearing

(5) If for any reason the presiding Judge or Registrar considers that it is not expedient for any hearing to continue via Skype, he or she may –

(a) adjourn the matter and require parties to attend Court personally on an appointed date and time;

(b) conduct the hearing via telephone; or

(c) make any other direction that may be appropriate in the circumstances of the case.

Hearing Records

(6) Hearings conducted via Skype shall not be recorded on video or audio tape or any other form.

Queries and Assistance

(7) Any queries or requests for assistance pertaining to Skype hearings may be sent to FJCourts_Family_Registry@fjcourts.gov.sg.

ANNEX

GUIDELINES AND PROCEDURES FOR HEARINGS VIA SKYPE

  1. Log into your Skype account and set your status to ‘available’.
  2. You may access the relevant hearing list at http://www.familyjusticecourts.gov.sg.
  3. Check the chambers assigned to hear your case.
  4. Then identify the corresponding Skype contact from the following:

Family Justice Courts Registry

For hearings at 3 Havelock Square, Singapore 059725

Chamber Skype contact
Chambers C FJCourts_Ch_C
Chambers D FJCourts_Ch_D
Chambers E FJCourts_Ch_E
Chambers J FJCourts_Ch_J

For hearings at 5 Maxwell Road, #04-00, Tower Block, MND Complex, Singapore 069110

Chamber Skype contact
Chambers 1 fjcourts.ch1
Chambers 2 fjcourts.ch2
Chambers 3 fjcourts.ch3
Chambers 4 fjcourts.ch4
Chambers 5 fjcourts.ch5
  1. Send an instant message to the relevant Chambers using Skype to inform the judge that you are ready and state your name, law firm and case number. E.g., if your matter is fixed for hearing in Chambers J, you will send your message to ‘ FJCourts_Ch_J’. Your instant message will state “ John Tan, ABC Law Firm, ready at 3:15p.m., D 12345/20XX/A ”. Note that the Judge will not call you unless you have previously sent a message to indicate your readiness to proceed with the Skype hearing.

  2. When the judge is ready to deal with your matter, he/she will call you. Accept the video call and start the hearing. Do not attempt to call the Judge.

  3. Where there is a queue, priority will be given to the solicitors who are physically present in court.

  4. If you encounter any problem, you may call Family Justice Courts Registry for assistance at –
    (a) 6435 5473 (for hearings at 3 Havelock Square).
    (b) 6236 9050 (for mediation/counselling sessions at the MND Complex); or
    (c) 6435 5864 (for Mental Capacity/Adoption/Probate cases at the MND Complex).

  5. If the problems cannot be resolved, you may be required to personally attend Court to mention your case.

161A. Technology Facilities in Supreme Court Building

Use of the Technology Courts and the Mobile Infocomm Technology Facilities

(1) This Paragraph shall apply only in respect of proceedings in the Family Division of the High Court conducted at the Supreme Court building.

(2) The Technology Courts and the Mobile Infocomm Technology Facilities (“MIT facilities”) may, at the discretion of the Registrar and subject to the payment of the appropriate fees, be used:

(a) for the hearing of any matter, whether before a Judge or Registrar, in open Court or in Chambers; or

(b) for any other dispute resolution process.

(3) The Registrar may refuse any request for the use of any of the services described in this Part at any time owing to the unavailability of staff or equipment or for any other reason. The Registrar need not give any reasons for the refusal of such a request.

Applications to use the Technology Courts

(4) A request to use a Technology Court for the hearing of any matter before a Judge or Registrar must be made by filing a Request through the Electronic Filing Service at least 14 working days before the hearing at which the Technology Court is to be used and Form 266A of Appendix A of these Practice Directions in Portable Document Format (PDF) must be annexed to the Request electronic form.

(5) An application to use a Technology Court for any other dispute resolution process must be made by submitting Form 266A of Appendix A of these Practice Directions to the Registrar through the relevant person-in-charge at the organisation at which the dispute resolution process is carried out at least 14 working days before the dispute resolution proceedings at which it is to be used.

(6) The attention of solicitors is drawn to section 62A of the Evidence Act (Cap. 97), which provides:

Evidence through live video or live television links

62A. —(1) Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, a person may, with leave of the Court, give evidence through a live video or live television link in any proceedings, other than proceedings in a criminal matter, if —

(a) the witness is below the age of 16 years;

(b) it is expressly agreed between the parties to the proceedings that evidence may be so given;

(c) the witness is outside Singapore; or

(d) the Court is satisfied that it is expedient in the interests of justice to do so.

(2) In considering whether to grant leave for a witness outside Singapore to give evidence by live video or live television link under this section, the Court shall have regard to all the circumstances of the case including the following:

(a) the reasons for the witness being unable to give evidence in Singapore;

(b) the administrative and technical facilities and arrangements made at the place where the witness is to give his evidence; and

(c) whether any party to the proceedings would be unfairly prejudiced.

(3) The Court may, in granting leave under subsection (1), make an order on all or any of the following matters:

(a) the persons who may be present at the place where the witness is giving evidence;

(b) that a person be excluded from the place while the witness is giving evidence;

(c) the persons in the Courtroom who must be able to be heard, or seen and heard, by the witness and by the persons with the witness;

(d) the persons in the Courtroom who must not be able to be heard, or seen and heard, by the witness and by the persons with the witness;

(e) the persons in the Courtroom who must be able to see and hear the witness and the persons with the witness;

(f) the stages in the proceedings during which a specified part of the order is to have effect;

(g) the method of operation of the live video or live television link system including compliance with such minimum technical standards as may be determined by the Chief Justice; and

(h) any other order the Court considers necessary in the interests of justice.

(4) The Court may revoke, suspend or vary an order made under this section if:-

(a) the live video or live television link system stops working and it would cause unreasonable delay to wait until a working system becomes available;

(b) it is necessary for the Court to do so to comply with its duty to ensure that the proceedings are conducted fairly to the parties thereto;

(c) it is necessary for the Court to do so, so that the witness can identify a person or a thing or so that the witness can participate in or view a demonstration or an experiment;

(d) it is necessary for the Court to do so because part of the proceedings is being heard outside a Courtroom; or

(e) there has been a material change in the circumstances after the Court has made an order.

(5) The Court shall not make an order under this section, or include a particular provision in such an order, if to do so would be inconsistent with the Court’s duty to ensure that the proceedings are conducted fairly to the parties to the proceedings.

(6) An order made under this section shall not cease to have effect merely because the person in respect of whom it was made attains the age of 16 years before the proceedings in which it was made are finally determined.

(7) Evidence given by a witness, whether in Singapore or elsewhere, through a live video or live television link by virtue of this section shall be deemed for the purposes of sections 193, 194, 195, 196, 205 and 209 of the Penal Code (Cap. 224) as having been given in the proceedings in which it is given.

(8) Where a witness gives evidence in accordance with this section, he shall, for the purposes of this Act, be deemed to be giving evidence in the presence of the Court.

(9) The Rules Committee constituted under the Supreme Court of Judicature Act (Cap. 322) and the Family Justice Rules Committee constituted under the Family Justice Act 2014, may make such rules as appear to it to be necessary or expedient for the purpose of giving effect to this section and for prescribing anything which may be prescribed under this section.

(7) Upon the successful booking of a Technology Court for videoconferencing,

(a) prior arrangements for videoconferencing testing have to be made at least 5 working days before the first day fixed for the hearing, in order to ensure equipment compatibility;

(b) applicants will be informed of the ISDN number for videoconferencing during the testing session; and

(c) as a matter of general practice, the remote site will dial in to the Technology Court and it is the responsibility of the party requesting the videoconferencing to coordinate the booking and calling in from the remote site.

(8) Any person who desires to use audio-visual and computers equipment additional to those provided in the Technology Courts will be asked to provide details of such equipment when applying to use the Courtroom. The applicant must also be prepared to have the equipment available for testing with the audio-visual system of the Technology Courts at least 3 working days before the first day fixed for the hearing. It is the responsibility of the applicant to provide equipment that is compatible with the audio-visual system of the Technology Courts.

Applications to use the Mobile Infocomm Technology Facilities

(9) A request to use the MIT facilities for the hearing of any matter in open Court or in Chambers before a Judge or Registrar must be made by filing a Request through the Electronic Filing Service at least 14 working days before the hearing at which the MIT facilities are to be used and Form 266A of Appendix A of these Practice Directions in Portable Document Format (PDF) must be annexed to the Request electronic form.

(10) An application to use the MIT facilities for any other dispute resolution process must be made by submitting Form 266A to the Registrar through the relevant person-in- charge at the organisation at which the dispute resolution process is carried out as soon as practicable, as availability of the resources are on a first-come-first served basis.

(11) The mobile audio-visual equipment is available for use in both open Court and in Chambers while the mobile videoconferencing equipment is only for use in Chambers.

(12) Any applicant desiring to use the mobile audio-visual equipment is required to provide details of the type of evidence presenting and media format in the application form. The applicant must also be prepared to have the presentation material or media available for testing with the audio-visual system at least 5 working days before the first day fixed for the hearing. It is the responsibility of the applicant to provide presentation materials or media format that is compatible with the equipment provided by the Court.

(13) Upon a successful application of the use of the mobile videoconferencing equipment,

(a) prior arrangements for videoconferencing testing have to be made at least 5 working days before the first day fixed for the hearing, in order to ensure equipment compatibility;

(b) applicants will be informed of the ISDN number for videoconferencing during the testing arrangement; and

(c) as a matter of general practice, the remote site will dial into the Courtroom or Chamber and it is the responsibility of the party requesting the videoconferencing to coordinate the booking and calling in from the remote site.

Fees

(14) The fees for the use of the Technology Courts and the MIT facilities are set out in Appendix D of these Practice Directions.

(15) The Registrar may refund any fee or part thereof paid in respect of any day on which the Technology Court and/or the MIT facilities was not used provided that:

(a) such request for refund must be made within 3 months after the last scheduled day of use of the said Technology Court and/or the MIT facilities stated in Form 266A; and

(b) the fees payable for the first scheduled day of use of the said Technology Court and/or the MIT facilities stated in Form 266A shall not be refunded if notice of cancellation for any scheduled day of use or part thereof is given less than 14 days before the first scheduled day of use.

162. Absence from Court on medical grounds

(1) If —

(a) any party to proceedings;

(b) any witness;

(c) any counsel; or

(d) a Deputy Public Prosecutor or other officer or person appointed by the Attorney- General to assist him or to act as his deputy in the performance of any of the functions or duties of the Public Prosecutor under the Criminal Procedure Code (Cap. 68) or under any other written law,

is required to attend Court and wishes to excuse himself from Court on medical grounds, he must tender or cause to be tendered to the Court an original medical certificate. The medical certificate so tendered must be in the form and contain the information and particulars required by sub-paragraphs (2) to (5).

(2) A medical certificate issued by a Government hospital or clinic may be in the pre- printed form produced by the Ministry of Health, a sample of which appears at Form 267 of Appendix A. A medical certificate issued by a restructured hospital or specialist centre may also be in a pre-printed form similar to the sample which appears at Form 267 of Appendix A. The pre-printed medical certificate must:

(a) be completely and properly filled in;

(b) contain the name of the medical practitioner who issued the medical certificate;

(c) state the name of the hospital or clinic in which the medical practitioner practices;

(d) indicate that the person to whom the certificate is issued is unfit to attend Court, and specify the date(s) on which he is unfit to attend Court;

(e) be signed in full by the medical practitioner and must not be merely initialled; and

(f) be authenticated by a rubber stamp showing the medical practitioner’s full name and his designation in the hospital or clinic, as the case may be.

(3) If a medical certificate is not in Form 267 of Appendix A, then the medical certificate should:

(a) be addressed to the Court for which the certificate was intended. It must not merely be addressed to “whomsoever-it-may-concern”. Where the patient is unable to furnish the name of the judicial officer concerned, the relevant medical certificate may be addressed to “The District Judge/Magistrate, Family Courts” or “The Registrar, Family Justice Courts”, as the case may be;

(b) identify clearly the name of the medical practitioner who issued the certificate;

(c) state the name of the hospital or clinic from which it had been issued;

(d) be signed in full by the medical practitioner and not merely initialled;

(e) be authenticated by a rubber stamp showing the medical practitioner’s full name, designation and any other relevant particulars;

(f) contain the diagnosis of the patient concerned, if any (unless the diagnosis cannot or should not normally be disclosed);

(g) contain a statement to the effect that the person to whom the certificate had been issued is medically unfit to attend Court, and specify the date(s) on which the person is unfit to attend Court; and

(h) bear the date on which it was written, and where this differs from the date of consultation this must be clearly disclosed.

(4) If any portion of the information set out in sub-paragraph (3) is not found in the medical certificate proper, such information should be included in a memorandum attached to the medical certificate. This memorandum must similarly:

(a) identify clearly the name of the medical practitioner who issued the memorandum;

(b) contain the name of the hospital or clinic from which it was issued;

(c) be signed in full by the medical practitioner and not merely initialled; and

(d) be authenticated by a rubber stamp showing the medical practitioner’s full name and designation.

(5) All information and details in any medical certificate or any memorandum must be clearly and legibly printed.

(6) If the Directions set out in sub-paragraphs (2) to (5) are not complied with, the Court may reject the medical certificate and decline to excuse the absence from Court of the person to whom the medical certificate was issued. The Court may then take any action it deems appropriate.

(7) This Paragraph shall apply to all proceedings in the Family Justice Courts, whether in open Court or in camera.

163. Publication of & Reports and Comments on Court Cases

(1) This paragraph applies to solicitors, litigants (whether acting by solicitors or in person), the media and all other persons reporting on or commenting about cases which are before any court (“court cases”). All categories of persons mentioned above are collectively referred to as “all concerned”.

(2) All concerned are reminded that reports or comments in public on court cases must not flout any existing law or order of court or be calculated to affect, or be reasonably capable of affecting, the outcome of any decision by the court.

(3) All concerned are not to publish, report or comment on publicly any affidavit or statutory declaration which has not been adduced as evidence or referred to in any hearing in open Court or in Chambers or any other court document which has not been served on the relevant party or parties in the court proceedings.

(4) All concerned are not to publish, report or comment on publicly any statements made in Chambers by anyone which is expressly stated to be confidential or is impliedly confidential. Solicitors may inform their clients of statements made in Chambers when it is necessary for them to render proper advice to their clients.

164. Citation of Case Numbers

(1) All originating processes and summons filed in the Family Justice Courts on or after 2 January 2015 shall bear case numbers in the following format:

Description of Court/Type of Application [Case number]/Year filed

For example:

Case Number Format Type of Case
HCF/P [Case Number] / [Year filed] Probate case filed in Family Division of the High Court
HCF/OSF [Case Number] / [Year filed] Originating summons filed in Family Division of the High Court
FC/P [Case Number] / [Year filed] Probate case filed in the Family Courts
FC/D [Case Number] / [Year filed] Originating summons filed in the Family Courts

(2) Parties are to cite the case number in full in all documents and correspondence which are submitted to the Court.

(3) Please take note that the court forum prefix will not be shown in the Electronic Queue Management System. Counsel and parties should disregard the court forum prefix when taking their queue numbers.

165. The Electronic Queue Management System

(1) The Electronic Queue Management System (EQMS) is used for hearings and conferences in the Family Justice Courts except the following:-

(a) Youth Courts;

(b) Mentions in the Family Courts;

(c) Trials in the Family Courts; and

(d) Open Court Hearings in Family Courts.

(2) When taking queue numbers at the EQMS kiosk, solicitors should indicate they are ready for hearing by taking the queue number for the opposing party.

(3) The Judge or Registrar has the full discretion to manage the queue and call cases in the EQMS in a manner which he or she deems fit.

(4) Senior Counsel will continue to be given the precedence and the right of preaudience according to paragraph 166.

(5) If a hearing or conference is being conducted in the Supreme Court building, solicitors shall use the Electronic Queue Management System as set out in the Supreme Court Practice Directions.

166. Precedence and preaudience of Senior Counsel

(1) By virtue of section 31 of the Legal Profession Act (Cap. 161) and existing custom and usage, Senior Counsel are given precedence and the right of preaudience.

(2) In order to give substance to the principle of precedence and preaudience to Senior Counsel, Senior Counsel who intend to appear before Judges or Registrars for summonses hearings should inform the Registrar in writing not later than two clear days before the scheduled hearing date. Matters involving Senior Counsel will thereafter be listed first, in the order of their precedence. If Senior Counsel do not appear at the time their matters come on for hearing according to the list, they will have to wait for their turn in accordance with their queue numbers given by the Queue Management System in the Family Justice Courts, subject to the Judge’s or Registrar’s overriding discretion.

(3) All other counsel, including those who appear on behalf of Senior Counsel, will continue to be heard in the order of their queue numbers in accordance with the current practice in the Family Justice Courts, subject to the Judge’s or Registrar’s overriding discretion.

167. Court dress

Trials in Court

(1) For Family Division in the High Court,

(a) the attire for male advocates and solicitors appearing in trials or in open Court will be the existing gown worn over an ordinary long-sleeved white shirt with a turn- down collar, a tie of a subdued or sober colour, a dark jacket, dark trousers and black or plain coloured shoes; and

(b) the attire for female advocates and solicitors appearing in trials or in open Court will be the existing gown worn over a long-sleeved white blouse high to the neck, a dark jacket, a dark skirt or dark trousers and black or plain coloured shoes. Conspicuous jewellery or ornaments should not be worn.

(2) The attire for Senior Counsel shall be as described in sub-paragraphs (1), save that, for hearings, they may, instead of the existing gown, wear a gown in the design of those worn by the Queen’s Counsel of England and Wales and made of the following material:

(a) silk;

(b) silk and wool mix; or

(c) artificial silk.

(3) For Family Courts and Youth Courts, the attire for appearing in trials or in open Court shall be as per sub-paragraph (4).

Hearings in Chambers

(4) When appearing before the Judge or Registrar in Chambers, the attire for both male and female advocates and solicitors will be the same as for trials and open Court, save that the gown need not be worn.

Mediations

(5) For mediations:

(a) The attire for male advocates and solicitors will be as in sub-paragraph (4) save that a single-coloured shirt of neutral or subdued shades instead of a white shirt may be worn.

(b) The attire for female advocates and solicitors will be as in sub-paragraph (4) save that a single-coloured blouse or a single-coloured dress of neutral or subdued shades instead of a white blouse may be worn.

168. Requests and other Correspondence

General Correspondence

(1) All Requests relating to or in connection with any family proceedings in the Family Courts and Family Division of the High Court shall be addressed to the Registrar and sent to the Registry of the Family Justice Courts.

(2) For cases which have been commenced electronically, a letter shall be sent to the Court by a law firm only using the Electronic Filing Service. If a letter is sent to the Court by a law firm in any other way, it is liable to be rejected. This sub-paragraph does not apply to litigants in person.

(3) In addition, all letters should be captioned with the number of the cause to which they relate and the names of the parties. For example:

‘DIVORCE WRIT NO. 12345 OF 2015

Between AB and CD’

(4) If the correspondence relates to an interlocutory application or applications, the reference number, hearing date and time of that application or those applications should be stated in the caption below the parties’ names. For example:

“SUMMONS NO. 98765 OF 2015

CASE CONFERENCE ON 1 JANUARY 2015 at 2:30PM”

Request to adjourn, refix or vacate a hearing date

(5) A request for a hearing date to be re-fixed shall be in Form 268 in Appendix A to these Practice Directions and sent to the Registry of the Family Justice Courts as soon as possible and at least 7 working days prior to the hearing date.

(6) Before parties write to the Court to request an adjournment or vacation of any hearing other than a trial, they should seek the consent of the other party or parties to the matter. Unilateral requests made without first seeking the consent or views of the other party or parties to the matter will not be entertained, except in the most exceptional circumstances.

(7) If the consent of all other parties to the matter is obtained, the request should state that all parties have consented to the request for the adjournment or vacation. However, this does not mean that the request will be granted as a matter of course. The Court will still evaluate the merits of the request before making its decision.

(8) If the consent of one or more of the other parties is not obtained, the request should set out the reasons for the other parties’ objections, or explain why the consent of one or more of the other parties cannot be obtained. Any relevant correspondence between the parties should also be annexed. The Court will then evaluate the contents of the request and the relevant correspondence before deciding whether the request should be allowed.

(9) Where the reason for re-fixing of the hearing is a conflict of court dates, the following information relating to both court cases must be stated in the request:

(a) the case number;

(b) the date and time of the hearing;

(c) the nature of hearing;

(d) the date when the applicant was informed of the hearing date or agreed to accept the hearing date (e.g. date of Registrar’s Notice or date of case conference or Court mentions when the date was taken);

(e) in the event the family proceedings hearing date was fixed earlier, whether the court subsequently giving the same hearing date was informed of the family proceedings hearing already fixed; and

(f) in the event the family proceedings hearing date was fixed later, whether the Family Justice Courts was informed of the earlier hearing date and the reasons for the earlier date.

(10) Compliance with the directions in this Paragraph will facilitate the expeditious location of the relevant cause file.

(11) If a letter is sent to the Court by a law firm without the information specified in sub- paragraph (3) and (4), it is also liable to be rejected.

(12) All correspondence to Court relating to or in connection with any pending matter shall be copied to all other parties in the matter or to their solicitors unless there are good reasons for not so doing. Solicitors are further reminded that the Court should not be copied on correspondence between parties or their solicitors. The Registry has the discretion to reject or refuse to act on any inappropriate or ex parte correspondence.

(13) Registrar’s Directions and Notices from the Registry will be sent to law firms who are registered users of the Electronic Filing Service through the Electronic Filing Service.

(14) Registered users are to ensure that the inbox of their Electronic Filing Service account(s) are checked and cleared regularly.

169. Request for court interpreters

Family Division of the High Court

(1) For proceedings in the Family Division of the High Court, any party requiring the services of an interpreter of the Court for himself or any of his witnesses at a hearing is to comply with sub-paragraphs (2) to (10) below.

(2) The directions set out in sub-paragraphs (3) to (10) below are to be followed in relation to all requests for interpretation services of interpreters from the Supreme Court’s Interpreters Section, whether the services are required for hearings in open Court or in Chambers.

(3) Not less than 7 working days before the day on which the services of an interpreter are required (“scheduled day”), the requesting party must file a Request addressed to the appropriate Head Interpreter through the Electronic Filing Service and attach Form 2 of Appendix A of the Supreme Court Practice Directions in Portable Document Format (PDF) to the Request in electronic form.

(4) The Request in sub-paragraph (3) must be filed for hearings of matters which have been adjourned or part-heard, even if the services of an interpreter were requested and provided at an earlier hearing of the same matter. In the event that a Request is made in respect of an adjourned or part-heard matter, the Request should also state the date of the earlier hearing in addition to the scheduled day.

(5) The requesting party shall make payment of any prescribed fee for interpretation services under the Family Justice Rules upon approval of the Request.

(6) In the event that the services of the interpreter are for any reason not required on any of the scheduled days specified in the Request, the requesting party shall immediately notify the appropriate Head Interpreter either by letter, facsimile transmission or email. This shall serve as a notice of cancellation.

(7) Any request for refund of the fee paid under sub-paragraph (5) must be submitted to the Registrar through the Electronic Filing Service within one month from the date on which the reason for the refund arose. The supporting reasons and the amount of refund sought must be clearly specified in the request for refund.

(8) Unless otherwise decided by the Registrar, the fee paid for any scheduled day may be refunded only if a notice of cancellation under sub-paragraph (6) is given at least 1 clear working day prior to that scheduled day.

(9) The provision of interpretation services by the Supreme Court’s Interpreters Section is subject to the availability of suitable interpreters on the day that the interpretation services are required. Failure to comply with the directions set out in sub-paragraphs (3) to (5) may result in the services of interpreters not being available or provided.

(10) Engagement of private interpreters (i.e. interpreters not from the Supreme Court’s Interpreters Section):

(a) For the avoidance of doubt, a party may engage the services of a private interpreter for interpretation services in respect of the languages listed in Form 2 of Appendix A of the Supreme Court Practice Directions.

(b) If a party requires the services of an interpreter in a language apart from those listed in Form 2 of Appendix A to the Supreme Court Practice Directions, it shall be the duty of the party to engage such an interpreter directly to obtain his or her services for the scheduled hearing.

(c) Interpreters who are not from the Supreme Court’s Interpreters Section must be sworn in before the Duty Registrar before they may provide interpretation services for proceedings in Court.

Family Courts

(11) The directions in the following sub-paragraphs below apply to proceedings in the Family Courts.

(12) Any party requiring the services of an interpreter of the Court for himself or any of his witnesses at a hearing must inform the Registrar in writing:-

(a) within 7 working days from the date of the case conference or other proceeding at which the hearing date was fixed; or

(b) 2 weeks before the day when the interpreter is required,

whichever is earlier. This practice is to be followed for all fresh and adjourned hearings, whether in open Court or in Chambers.

(13) Where an interpreter is required and the Registrar has not been so informed, any deployment of an interpreter will be subject to availability.

(14) The Request should contain the following information:

(a) the Case number;

(b) the parties to the suit;

(c) the names of witnesses requiring an interpreter;

(d) the Court/Chamber number;

(e) the stage of the proceedings (e.g. fresh or adjourned hearing);

(f) the date and time of hearing (in the event the hearing is fixed for more than 1 day, the date and time on which the interpreter’s services are required);

(g) the number of days for which the interpreter’s services are required; and

(h) the language/dialect spoken by the witnesses requiring the services of the interpreter.

(15) Where the services of the interpreter requested are no longer required prior to the start of the hearing, such as in the event of a settlement prior to the hearing, the party who has requested the services of the interpreter must inform the Registrar in writing immediately.

(16) For proceedings other than proceedings under Parts VII and VIII of the Women’s Charter (Cap. 353), the requesting party must file the request for the services of an interpreter through a “Request for Hearing Administrative Support” through the Electronic Filing Service.

(17) Engagement of private interpreters (i.e. interpreters not from the Family Courts’ Interpreters Section):

(a) If a party requires the services of an interpreter in a language apart from Chinese, Malay or Tamil, it shall be the duty of the party to engage such an interpreter directly to obtain his or her services for the scheduled hearing.

(b) Interpreters who are not from the Family Courts’ Interpreters Section must be sworn in before the judge hearing the proceeding before they may provide interpretation services for proceedings in Court.

Translation

(18) Requests for translations of documents in Chinese, Malay or Tamil for use in proceedings in the Family Division of the High Court and/or the Family Courts should be sent using the form available at relevant counter at the Family Registry at least 6 weeks before the date the translations are required, unless there are exceptional reasons justifying non-compliance.

(19) In the event that the Family Justice Courts’ Interpreters Section is unable to accept a translation request, parties and counsel should approach a private translation service instead.

170. Authorisation for collection of mail and Court documents

(1) Without prejudice to sub-paragraphs (3) and (4) below, all law firms are required to notify the Registry of the particulars of person(s) authorised to collect Court documents or mail from the Family Justice Courts on their behalf by submitting a request to authorise user through the Electronic Filing Service.

(2) Where such authorised persons are no longer so authorised, law firms are required to revoke or delete the authorisation immediately by submitting a request through the Electronic Filing Service. Until receipt of such notification of revocation or deletion, Court documents and mail shall continue to be released to such authorised persons upon production of evidence of identification.

(3) Any solicitor may collect Court documents and mail on behalf of his firm and any litigant in person may collect documents and mail intended for him in any matter in which he is a party.

(4) A law firm may authorise a courier service-provider to collect Court documents or mail from the Family Justice Courts on their behalf. At the time of collection, the courier service-provider should produce a letter of authorisation which is printed on the law firm’s letterhead and addressed to the courier service-provider. The said letter of authorisation should clearly state the case number, the name of the courier service- provider appointed to collect and the Court documents or mail to be collected. An employee or representative of the courier service-provider collecting the Court documents or mail may be requested to provide evidence that will allow the Family Justice Courts to verify that he is an employee or representative from the courier service- provider and will have to acknowledge receipt of the Court documents or mail collected.

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