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Report No. 253

(ii) Singapore

2.20.1 In Singapore, the High Court, a division of the Supreme Court of Singapore, with pecuniary jurisdiction above SGD 250,000, is a court of the first instance. Procedure in the High Court is governed by the Rules of the Court, promulgated by the Rules Committee of the High Court comprising of the Chief Justice, Attorney General, and other judges and lawyers. A few key features of the Rules are:

(a) Court fees increase depending on the number of days taken up for hearing by the parties to the case. For example, no court fees are payable for the first three hearings, SGD 8000 is payable for the first five hearings, SGD 20000 for the first ten hearings and so on. The scale keeps increasing up to the tenth hearing and the court fee goes up to SGD 5000 per hearing from the eleventh hearing onwards.

(b) Pleadings can be struck out by the court at any stage of the hearing if such pleadings do not disclose any cause of action, are vexatious, delay fair trial, or amount to an abuse of process of the court.33

(c) A court can direct a "pre-trial conference" between the parties to examine the possibilities of settlement or to ensure smooth conduct of the trial, as the case may be. The directions given by the court to ensure smooth conduct of the trial in such pre-trial conferences are binding on the parties and any default can result in the court striking out a defence or rendering judgment on a point it sees fit.34

(d) An official record of hearing is made at the end of every hearing, and the parties can apply for and obtain the official transcript thereof.35

33. Order 19, Rule 19 of the Rules of Court.

34. Order 43A of the Rules of Court.

35. Order 38A of the Rules of Court.

2.20.2 These features are only being highlighted to show the importance placed by the courts in the UK and Singapore in ensuring that trial is conducted expeditiously and fairly and at a reasonable cost to the litigants. Whereas the guiding principles evolved by Lord Woolf are worth examining to understand how civil procedure in India can be re-cast, the provisions of the Singapore law provide an interesting model to adopt so as to give effect to these principles.

2.20.3 If the aim is to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of commercial courts in India, it would be prudent to seriously examine the procedural laws adopted in other countries to draw any worthwhile lessons that may be applied to the Indian scenario.

Commercial Division and Commercial Appellate Division of High Courts and Commercial Courts Bill, 2015 Back

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