SINGAPORE - Almost 80 sets of neighbours went all the way to the court to settle their squabbles, in the first 10 months since the State Courts established tribunals to resolve such disputes.
Of the 79 cases seen by the Community Disputes Resolution Tribunals (CDRT) from October 2015 to July 31 this year, most - 70 per cent - involved claims of "excessive noise".
Littering and "interfering with moveable property" were seen in 25 per cent of cases respectively, said the State Courts on Friday (Sept 23). There can be more than one cause of dispute in each claim filed.
In one instance, a woman filed a complaint against a man living in the Housing Board flat directly below hers who would leave his door and windows open when using the karaoke machine.
In another, adjacent neighbours got into a dispute when one party placed a shoe rack, red metal incense burner, bicycle and other items under the other's sliding window in the common corridor.
While over 930 inquiries were made during the same period, not all were heard before the tribunals, which were set up last October to resolve ugly community spats.
"Mediation, either at the Community Mediation Centre (CMC) or the State Courts Centre for Dispute Resolution, remains an integral part of resolving neighbour disputes," said a State Courts spokesman. "Disputing neighbours are strongly encouraged to attempt voluntary mediation by grassroots leaders or at the CMC before filing a claim at the CDRT."
Potential applicants may have a free consultation to gain more understanding into court processes and consider alternatives to resolving disagreements with their neighbours before filing their claims.
If the applicants have not attempted mediation at the CMC and are willing to do so, they may be referred to the centre as well and even if a claim has been filed, the CDRT has power to order parties to undergo mediation, said the spokesman.
Separately, the State Courts also said on Friday (Sept 23) that there have been 222 applications for Protection Orders from November 2014, when the Protection for Harassment Act came into force, to July 31. It also saw 1,233 cases of Magistrate's Complaints, which are for criminal cases.
Speaking at the opening of a seminar on resolving community disputes, Presiding Judge of the State Courts See Kee Oon said that with Singapore being a multi-racial, multi-faith and multi-lingual community living in a "small and densely-populated island", and every one going about in a fast-paced and potentially stressful environment, "these factors have the potential to stretch and... fray the social fabric of our uniquely cosmopolitan society".
He added: "Both pieces of legislation are fundamental pillars in Singapore's framework to strengthen social cohesion and defuse tension within the community."