Bid to make Singapore law easier to understand

New system also allows users to e-negotiate a settlement

Those involved in disputes who wish to file a small claim can now do so at any time.

All claims at the Small Claims Tribunals will now be filed online, with the first phase of the State Courts' Community Justice and Tribunals System, an electronic case filing and management system, launched yesterday.

The new system allows parties involved in disputes to file claims and access court e-services online.

Before this, the small claims process was done manually.

Parties would have to go to the Small Claims Tribunals at the State Courts in person to file their claims and submit documents in hard copy. They would then have to attend mediation and tribunal hearings, before a tribunal order may be made.

Through the new system, parties can submit their small-claims documents and make payments online, as well as select their court date. They can also view documents submitted by the other party and monitor their case developments.

  • Bid to make S'pore laws easier to understand

    In an effort to make Singapore laws easier to understand, the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) has revamped its Singapore Statutes Online website, the official online repository for the country's legislation.

    The revamp aims to make Singapore's written laws in the online space more accessible to different users. The website, maintained by the national law-drafting office within the AGC, offers free access to all of Singapore's legislation in a single location.

    The AGC rolled out a beta version of its new Singapore Statutes Online website at last Friday to give users time to adjust to its look, as well as to obtain feedback on its features.

    The AGC told The Straits Times that the official roll-out date depends on how well the beta version works for users and whether modifications are needed. It expects the feedback period for the beta version to take about three months.

    Chief Legislative Counsel in the AGC, Mrs Owi Beng Ki, said the revamp is part of efforts in "ensuring that our laws remain understandable and conveniently accessible".

    As part of the Plain Laws Understandable by Singaporeans (Plus) project, announced four years ago, the AGC has been progressively implementing changes in law drafting. These include writing in shorter sentences and simpler English, such as using "must" instead of "shall" to signify mandatory obligations, adopting gender- neutral terms, and breaking down provisions into parts to aid readers.

    Calvin Yang

A key development is the ability of parties to e-negotiate a settlement on a confidential platform before they go to court.

For example, when a settlement offer is made by the respondent, the claimant will receive a notification to log on to consider it or make a counter-offer.

If an amicable settlement has been reached through e-negotiation, the parties may apply online for a tribunal order directly without having to go to court. If they are unable to do so, the claim will then proceed to the consultation and hearing stages.

Before a claim can be filed, the system will first take claimants through a pre-filing assessment to ensure that they are ready to proceed.

It will then assist them in completing the claim form and submitting the documents.

Claimants will also be able to choose their preferred court date within a given period.

These functions will help claimants save time and boost the likelihood of settling a dispute on their own terms, said the State Courts.

Individuals can access the Community Justice and Tribunals System with their SingPass, while businesses can do so with their CorpPass.

Presiding Judge of the State Courts See Kee Oon said the new system will "provide court users with more expedient and efficient access to the resolution of small claims".

The implementation of the Community Disputes Resolution Tribunals and the Employment Claims Tribunals processes into the new system will be progressively rolled out from the first quarter of next year.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 11, 2017, with the headline 'All small claims to be filed online'. Print Edition | Subscribe