Business Times – 10 May 2008
By MICHELLE QUAH
SINGAPORE’S Subordinate Courts are looking into fast-tracking the handling of motor accident claims, by concurrently managing civil personal injury claims arising from traffic accidents where there are related criminal proceedings.
The Sub Courts found, from a 2007 study, that almost one-fifth of personal injury motor accident civil claims filed with the Sub Courts have a prior related criminal proceeding. Such duplicity results in extra time, effort and cost for all parties involved.
It will thus spearhead a dialogue session with key stakeholders – such as the Attorney-General’s Chambers, the Traffic Police, the Law Society and the Motor Insurers Bureau – to determine how to streamline current practices. There will also be a joint working group to establish the conventional quantum of damages for more common types of personal injuries.
These are but some of the several changes the Sub Courts will be embarking on this year, as it aims to enhance the public value of justice. It also intends to make changes to the family justice and juvenile justice divisions, and have a greater emphasis on continuing judicial training.
These were announced yesterday by Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong, in his keynote address at the Subordinate Courts Workplan 2008/2009 Seminar. He had noted that the public’s perception of Singapore’s judicial system has improved – according to an independent survey commissioned by the Sub Courts.
The survey, conducted in 2007, showed that 97 per cent of survey respondents have trust and confidence in the fair administration of justice here, up from the 95 per cent who thought so in the survey conducted the year before.
But CJ Chan believes the Sub Courts can set the bar higher and build on the improved results from the public perception survey. ‘There is more we can do and must do to ensure and sustain fair and just outcomes for every case that comes before us,’ he said.
The Sub Courts will introduce the CHILD (CHildren, best Interests, Less-aDversarial) programme this quarter. The programme will focus on the best interests of the child and parental duties and responsibilities, rather than the rights and interests of the parents. Some of the key features include having a dedicated judge, deputy registrar and family counsellor assigned to the case, and having the same team deal with parties from beginning to end.
A specialised Children Care Court will also be established to hear certain cases of criminal offences committed by youthful offenders.
The Sub Courts will also intensify its current training programme for judicial officers – and has already been sending a number for overseas attachments with leading courts in developed countries, since the beginning of this year.