Second Reading Speech by Minister for Law, K Shanmugam, on the Supreme Court of Judicature (Amendment) Bill
4 Nov 2014 Posted in Parliamentary speeches and responses
- I beg to move, ‘That the Bill be now read a second time’.
- Madam Speaker, the Supreme Court of Judicature (Amendment) Bill (“the Bill”) introduces amendments in two main areas:
- First, it establishes the Singapore International Commercial Court (“SICC”); and
- Second, it refines the procedure for obtaining leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal in civil proceedings.
- I will take each set of amendments in turn.
- Establishing the Singapore International Commercial Court
- Madam Speaker, I have touched on the rationale and general framework for the SICC during the debate on the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore (Amendment) Bill.
- I will therefore focus on the key features of the SICC that are found in this Bill.
- Key Features of the SICC
- The Bill establishes the SICC as a division of the High Court 1.
- The President of the SICC shall be the Chief Justice, unless he appoints a Judge of Appeal, a Judge of the High Court, a Senior Judge or an International Judge to be the President 2.
- The SICC will have jurisdiction to hear cases that can be heard by the High Court in its original civil jurisdiction, and are international and commercial in nature 3.
- The Rules of Court will set out the types of cases that are considered international and commercial in nature.
- For certainty, potential parties will have the option of applying for a pre-action certificate to certify that the intended action is international and commercial in nature 4.
- The pre-action certificate may also certify such other matters as the Rules of Court may prescribe.
- In addition, cases commenced in the SICC may be transferred to the High Court, and vice versa 5.
- This enables cases which would be more appropriately heard in the other Court to be transferred.
- The procedure and conditions for such transfer of cases will be set out in the Rules of Court.
- Proceedings in the SICC will be heard either by a single Judge or by 3 Judges 6.
- Where proceedings are heard by 3 Judges, the Chief Justice shall appoint one of the Judges to preside.
- The case will be decided in accordance with the decision of the majority 7.
- The SICC will have the same powers as the High Court, except:
- the powers that the Family Division of the High Court exercise; and
- the power to make prerogative orders.
- The rules and procedure before the SICC will differ from those before the High Court in three broad areas:
- First, cases before the SICC will not be bound by the rules of evidence that are applicable under Singapore law, in such cases and to the extent as provided for in the Rules of Court 8.
- Second, the Rules of Court may provide for different procedures and practices to be followed in the SICC 9.
- Third, even where Singapore’s laws of evidence are applicable, the SICC may allow any questions of foreign law to be determined on the basis of submissions, without requiring formal proof by experts 10.
- Jurisdiction of the SICC
- The SICC’s jurisdiction will generally be consensual.
- Parties who have voluntarily chosen to have their disputes adjudicated by the SICC are expected to comply with its orders without the need to resort to enforcement measures.
- The Bill further provides that the parties to an agreement to submit to the jurisdiction of the SICC shall be considered to have agreed 11:
- to submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the SICC,
- to carry out any SICC judgment without undue delay; and
- to waive any recourse to any court or tribunal outside Singapore against any SICC judgment and the enforcement of such judgment.
- This is unless the parties have expressly provided otherwise.
- Parties may also strengthen the enforceability of SICC judgements by including clauses in their jurisdiction agreements that will have the effect of waiving their rights to defend against an action based on an SICC judgment in any jurisdiction.
- Refining the Procedure for Obtaining Leave to Appeal to the Court of Appeal in Civil Proceedings
- Madam Speaker, I will now turn to the other set of amendments. The Supreme Court has suggested amendments to the Act such that it will:
- enable the Court of Appeal to hear applications for leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal under section 34 of the SCJA;
- without compromising on its case management capabilities.
- The Bill also introduces a new procedure for applications made to the Court of Appeal, for leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal.
- Such applications may be determined by two Judges of Appeal without the need to hear oral arguments.
- Miscellaneous Amendments
- The Bill also introduces consequential amendments relating to the appointment of Senior Judges and International Judges of the Supreme Court.
- These amendments were discussed during the debate on the Constitution (Amendment) Bill.
- The Bill also contains amendments to align the position for appeals from the High Court (other than the Family Division) with that for appeals from the Family Division of the High Court in family proceedings.
- Madam Speaker, I beg to move.
 Clause 7, new Section 18A.
 Clause 7, New Section 18B
 Clause 7, New Section 18D
 Clause 7, New Section 18E
 Clause 7, New Section 18J
 Clause 7, New Section 18G
 Clause 7, New Section 18H
 Clause 7, New Section 18K
 Clause 13
 Claus e7, New Section 18L
 Clause 7, New Clause 18F
Last updated on 04 Nov 2014