Parties in cases will be actively encouraged to consider settling their disputes outside of court, said Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon on Friday. This will help them save both time and legal fees.
Speaking at the Opening on the Legal Year ceremony, he shared various initiatives to improve case management in the Supreme Court.
"Of course, alternative methods of dispute resolution remain voluntary, but parties will henceforth be actively encouraged to consider (them) whenever it may be appropriate...(they) may even be required to attend pre-trial conferences with their counsel to discuss the cost implications, before proceeding to trial."
He added that a panel of retired judges would be set up to conduct mediations and non-binding neutral evaluations of cases to this end.
Meanwhile, Attorney-General Steven Chong gave an update on some recently announced initiatives.
One is the Appropriate Adults scheme, a pilot project where volunteers help vulnerable offenders with mental disorders to communicate with the police during interviews. This scheme has been "positively received" according to anecdotal feedback. It will be rolled out to the remaining police land divisions and investigative agencies in the "near future", said AG Chong. Results are being analysed by the Police Psychological Services Division and Ministry of Social and Family Development, and focus group discussions will first be held to fine-tune the initiative.
Another initiative is a programme to station experienced Deputy Public Prosecutors in various enforcement agencies, with DPPs stationed at various organisations such as the Corrupt Practices Investigation and Central Narcotics Bureaus over the past year. The scheme, which aims to improve the working relationship between the AGC and these agencies, involves investigators consulting prosecutors on the merits of a case early on to save time and resources. It will be refined and rolled out to all Police Land Divisions over the next two years, said AG Chong.