10 Nov 2014 Posted in Press releases
- The Community Dispute Resolution Tribunals Bill will create Community Dispute Resolution Tribunals to resolve complex disputes between neighbours. The Civil Law (Amendment) Bill will also establish a new cause of action that will give a person the right to seek remedies for disturbances and interferences with the enjoyment of his residence. Members of the public are invited to share their views on the drafts of both Bills.
- The Tribunal will have customised processes and its characteristics are as follows:
- Pre-hearing processes will be kept minimal. This will enable hearings before the Tribunal to be fixed quickly.
- Hearings will be judge-led and kept informal. Lawyers will not be permitted to represent the parties unless both parties agree to it, and the Registrar or Tribunal permits it. The Tribunal will not be bound by the traditional rules of evidence. Court procedures will be simple to understand and streamlined. This will encourage frank discussion between the parties and help keep costs low.
- Only claims relating to the new cause of action can be brought to the Tribunal. Given the simplified nature of the proceedings, it would not be appropriate for the Tribunal to hear disputes involving other kinds of claims, such as nuisance, which should be brought before the normal civil courts.
- Monetary damages the Tribunal can award will be capped at $20,000. Due to the informal nature of its hearings, the Tribunal will not be a suitable forum for complicated claims where large sums of money are involved or where there are different types of damages being claimed.
- The Tribunal can order a person to do or refrain from doing the act that is interfering with his neighbour’s enjoyment of his residence (e.g. for items placed on the common corridor to be removed, or for no loud music to be played between stipulated times).
- There will only be limited provision for appealing against the decision of the Tribunal. This promotes finality and avoids the high costs that may be incurred through appeals. This is similar to the position for decisions of the Small Claims Tribunal.
- In order to encourage parties to resolve their differences amicably, the person must first attempt mediation with his neighbour before a Tribunal case can be started. Even after a case has started, the Registrar can order the parties to attend a pre-hearing mediation. Any settlement reached at this stage can be recorded as a consent order of the Tribunal, which can then be enforced accordingly.
- The Civil Law (Amendment) Bill sets out the provisions for the new cause of action and examples of behaviour which may be considered disturbances and interferences with the enjoyment of a person’s residence. Remedies can be sought from the Tribunal as well as other civil courts. If successful, the court could order an injunction, the payment of compensation, and/or require an apology from the neighbour causing the disturbance.
- A public consultation on promoting good neighbourliness and resolving community disputes was conducted by the Government from 9 March to 21 April 2014. Respondents were largely supportive of informal mediation by grassroots leaders and formal mediation by the Community Mediation Centre. However, a few said that formal mediation was not always effective, especially when parties could decline to show up. As for mandatory mediation, others expressed concern that this may be abused by vindictive neighbours.
- There was strong support for a tribunal as a last resort, when all other efforts had failed. A number of respondents also called for government agencies to enforce rules against repeated anti-social behaviour by neighbours.
- Members of the public are invited to share their views on the draft Bills, from 10 November 2014 to 30 November 2014. The Public Consultation Paper is available here and www.reach.gov.sg.
- Views and suggestions may be submitted in electronic form or hard copy form to
Legal Policy Division, Ministry of Law
100 High Street
#08-02, The Treasury
Fax: 6332 8842
MINISTRY OF LAW
10 NOVEMBER 2014
Last updated on 10 Nov 2014