The Supreme Court
Supreme Court Registry
The Supreme Court, the apex of Singapore’s judicial system, comprises the Court of Appeal and the High Court. The Chief Justice, the Judges of Appeal and the High Court Judges are assisted by LSOs in the Supreme Court Registry and the JLC pool.
The Registry is headed by the Registrar and he is assisted by the Deputy Registrar. The registrars perform both judicial and administrative functions. In their judicial capacity, they preside over hearings in chambers of a range of interlocutory applications such as those for summary judgment, striking out of pleadings, and discovery and inspection applications. The registrars also hear matters such as bankruptcy applications, taxation of costs, assessment of damages after judgment on liability and taking of accounts. They conduct case management via pre-trial conferences. In addition, the registrars hold concurrent appointments as Magistrates or District Judges, and preside over preliminary inquiries in criminal cases.
The registrars also have administrative duties, which involve oversight of the Registry, including the Legal, Corporate Services, Compliance, Corporate Communications, Finance and Financial Policy, Corporate Planning, Computer Information Systems, and Learning and Management directorates, for the efficient administration of justice. They manage various portfolios, such as those relating to personnel, finance and corporate communications. The registrars are also involved in spearheading a wide range of projects that relate to case management, professional development and talent management, knowledge management (“KM”) and other aspects of organisational and operational excellence. The registrars are actively involved in various boards and committees, including the Rules of Court Working Party and the Board of Directors of the Singapore Mediation Centre.
As at 31 December 2011, other than the Registrar and the Deputy Registrar, there were four Senior Assistant Registrars and 21 Assistant Registrars in the Supreme Court.
The JLCs are selected from young LSOs with outstanding academic credentials. The JLCs sit in for trials and hearings, and assist the Court of Appeal and the High Court by providing legal research and analysis. In so doing, the JLCs benefit greatly from the close mentorship provided by the Judges, as well as gain exposure to a wide variety of civil and criminal cases. From time to time, the JLCs are involved in project work with the registrars. They may also be appointed as part-time Assistant Registrars to hear chambers matters. As at 31 December 2011, there were 34 JLCs in the Supreme Court.
Justices’ Law Clerks
The year 2011 has been a memorable one for the Supreme Court. It saw the launch of the inaugural International Conference on Electronic Litigation, which was strongly supported by the Supreme Court. In addition, the Supreme Court hosted a tea session to thank members of the Criminal Bar for their support of the Legal Assistance Scheme for Capital Offences (“LASCO”), which provides free legal representation to all persons facing capital charges in the High Court. It was also a fruitful year for the Supreme Court to build bridges with, as well as to learn from, the Judiciaries of other countries. Judges and judicial officers from the Supreme Court attended the inaugural Joint Judicial Conference between Singapore and Malaysia to build upon the existing close relationship between the two Judiciaries. A number of the Supreme Court Judges were also invited to address audiences at various international forums, such as the Judicial Seminar on Commercial Litigation in Sydney, Australia, the Access to Justice Conference in Johannesburg, South Africa, and the Alternative Dispute Resolution Conference in Jakarta, Indonesia. In 2011, the Supreme Court had the privilege of sharing its experience with over 5,000 official visitors, including both local and overseas guests from Australia, Europe, South Asia, South-East Asia, Africa, the USA, and the Caribbean, for example.
The Supreme Court constantly strives to achieve the highest standards of organisational, operational, and business excellence. In the Supreme Court Staff Workplan Seminar 2011, the concept of “Design Thinking” was introduced as a working strategy for transformative innovation. The Workplan Seminar also reinforced four strategic thrusts: Cross Collaboration for the different directorates to work holistically as a team; Customised Training to specifically design the relevant training to suit the functional and developmental needs of the Supreme Court; Knowledge Management to systematically preserve and share institutional knowledge; and Paradigm Shift to empower staff and officers to think creatively and develop new mindsets. On an individual level, a number of the Supreme Court staff received National Day Awards in recognition of their service and achievements.