REPUBLIC OF SINGAPORE
GOVERNMENT GAZETTE
ACTS SUPPLEMENT
Published by Authority

NO. 16]Friday, June 11 [1993

The following Act was passed by Parliament on 13th April 1993 and assented to by the President on 28th April 1993:—
Subordinate Courts (Amendment) Act 1993

(No. 15 of 1993)


I assent.

WEE KIM WEE
President.
28th April 1993.
Date of Commencement: 1st July 1993
An Act to amend the Subordinate Courts Act (Chapter 321 of the 1985 Revised Edition).
Be it enacted by the President with the advice and consent of the Parliament of Singapore, as follows:
Short title and commencement
1.  This Act may be cited as the Subordinate Courts (Amendment) Act 1993 and shall come into operation on such date as the Minister may, by notification in the Gazette, appoint.
Amendment of section 2
2.  Section 2 of the Subordinate Courts Act (referred to in this Act as the principal Act) is amended —
(a)by inserting, immediately after the definition of “commissioner for oaths”, the following definition:
“ “District Court limit” means —
(a)in sections 26(a) and 28, $3 million or such other amount as may be specified by an order under section 31A; and
(b)in any other section, $100,000 or such other amount as may be specified by an order under section 31A;”; and
(b)by inserting, immediately after the definition of “judicial officer”, the following definition:
“ “Magistrate’s Court limit” means $30,000 or such other amount as may be specified by an order under section 52(3);”.
New section 15A
3.  The principal Act is amended by inserting, immediately after section 15, the following section:
Solicitor, etc., authorised to act as bailiff
15A.—(1)  Subject to such directions as may be given by the Senior District Judge, the registrar may authorise a solicitor or a person employed by a solicitor to exercise the powers and perform the duties of a bailiff during such period or on such occasion as the registrar thinks fit and subject to such terms and conditions as the registrar may determine.
(2)  Section 68(2) shall apply to a solicitor or person authorised under subsection (1) as it applies to an officer of a subordinate court.”.
Amendment of section 19
4.  Section 19 of the principal Act is amended by deleting subsection (2) and substituting the following subsections:
(2)  Subject to subsections (3) and (4), a District Court shall have the civil jurisdiction conferred by the following sections of this Part.
(3)  A District Court shall have the jurisdiction in sections 20, 21, 25, 26 and 31 where —
(a)the defendant is served with a writ or other originating process —
(i)in Singapore in the manner prescribed by Rules of Court; or
(ii)outside Singapore in the circumstances authorised by and in the manner prescribed by Rules of Court; or
(b)the defendant submits to the jurisdiction of a District Court.
(4)  A District Court’s jurisdiction conferred by the following sections of this Part shall not include —
(a)any jurisdiction to hear and try any civil proceeding which comes within the jurisdiction of the Syariah Court constituted under the Administration of Muslim Law Act (Cap. 3); and
(b)any jurisdiction expressly excluded by any other written law.
(5)  Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (2), a District Court shall have such jurisdiction as is vested in it by any other written law.”.
Amendment of section 20
5.  Section 20 of the principal Act is amended —
(a)by deleting subsection (1) and substituting the following subsection:
(1)  A District Court shall have jurisdiction to hear and try any action founded on contract or tort where —
(a)the debt, demand or damage claimed does not exceed the District Court limit, whether on balance of account or otherwise; or
(b)there is no claim for money, and the remedy or relief sought in the action is in respect of a subject-matter the value of which does not exceed the District Court limit.”;
(b)by deleting the word “try” in the first line of subsection (2) and substituting the words “hear and try”; and
(c)by deleting “$50,000” in the third line of subsection (2) and substituting the words “the District Court limit”.
Repeal and re-enactment of section 21
6.  Section 21 of the principal Act is repealed and the following section substituted therefor:
Jurisdiction in actions for recovery of money under any written law
21.—(1)  A District Court shall have jurisdiction to hear and try any action for the recovery of a sum which is recoverable under any written law, if —
(a)it is not expressly provided by that or any other written law that such sums shall be recoverable only in some other court; and
(b)the amount claimed in the action does not exceed the District Court limit.
(2)  For the purposes of this section, “sum” shall not include a fine to which any person is liable on conviction.”.
Amendment of section 22
7.  Section 22 of the principal Act is amended —
(a)by deleting subsection (1) and substituting the following subsection:
(1)  Where a plaintiff has a cause of action which exceeds the District Court limit in which, if it did not exceed the District Court limit, a District Court would have jurisdiction under section 20(1)(a) or (2) or section 21, the plaintiff may abandon the excess and thereupon a District Court shall have jurisdiction to hear and try the action, provided that the plaintiff shall not recover in the action an amount exceeding the District Court limit.”; and
(b)by deleting the word “try” in subsection (2) and substituting the words “hear and try”.
Amendment of section 23
8.  Section 23 of the principal Act is amended —
(a)by deleting the word “try” in the third line and substituting the words “hear and try”; and
(b)by deleting “$50,000” at the end thereof and substituting the words “the District Court limit”.
Repeal of sections 25, 26 and 27 and re-enactment of section 25 and new section 26
9.  Sections 25, 26 and 27 of the principal Act are repealed and the following sections substituted therefor:
Jurisdiction in actions for recovery of immovable property
25.  A District Court shall have jurisdiction to hear and try any action for the recovery of immovable property with or without a claim for rent or mesne profits and whether or not the title to the property is in dispute, where —
(a)the annual value of the property appearing in the Valuation List authenticated under the Property Tax Act (Cap. 254) does not exceed the District Court limit;
(b)the annual rent payable by the tenant does not exceed the District Court limit or the monthly rent payable by the tenant does not exceed one-twelfth of the District Court limit; or
(c)if the annual value, annual rent or monthly rent cannot be ascertained, the last transacted price of the property does not exceed ten times the District Court limit.
Equity jurisdiction
26.  A District Court shall have all the jurisdiction of the High Court to hear and try any of the following proceedings:
(a)proceedings for the administration of the estate of a deceased person, where the amount or value of the estate does not exceed the District Court limit;
(b)proceedings for the execution of any trust or for a declaration that a trust subsists, where the amount or value of the property subject, or alleged to be subject, to the trust does not exceed the District Court limit;
(c)proceedings for foreclosure or redemption of any mortgage or for enforcing any charge or lien, where the amount owing in respect of the mortgage, charge or lien does not exceed the District Court limit;
(d)proceedings for the specific performance, or for the rectification, delivery up or cancellation of any agreement for the sale, purchase or lease of any property, where, in the case of a sale or purchase, the purchase money or, in the case of a lease, the amount or value of the property does not exceed the District Court limit;
(e)proceedings relating to the maintenance or advancement of an infant, where the amount or value of the property of the infant does not exceed the District Court limit;
(f)proceedings for the dissolution or winding up of any partnership, whether or not the existence of the partnership is in dispute, where the amount or value of all the assets of the partnership does not exceed the District Court limit;
(g)proceedings for relief against fraud or mistake where the damage sustained or the amount or value of the estate or fund in respect of which relief is sought does not exceed the District Court limit.”.
Amendment of section 28
10.  Section 28 of the principal Act is amended by deleting “$250,000” in the eighth line and substituting the words “the District Court limit”.
Repeal of section 29
11.  Section 29 of the principal Act is repealed.
Repeal and re-enactment of section 30
12.  Section 30 of the principal Act is repealed and the following section substituted therefor:
Jurisdiction to issue distress
30.  A District Court shall have jurisdiction under the Distress Act (Cap. 84) in all cases where the amount of rent distrained or to be distrained does not exceed the District Court limit.”.
Amendment of section 31
13.  Section 31 of the principal Act is amended by deleting “$50,000” in subsections (1) (b) and (2) and substituting in each case the words “the District Court limit”.
New section 31A
14.  The principal Act is amended by inserting, immediately after section 31, the following section:
Variation of District Court limit
31A.  The President may, after consulting the Chief Justice, by order vary the District Court limit mentioned in any of the foregoing provisions.”.
Repeal and re-enactment of sections 32 and 33 and new section 33A
15.  Sections 32 and 33 of the principal Act are repealed and the following sections substituted therefor:
Powers of District Court same as High Court
32.—(1)  A District Court, as regards any action within its jurisdiction, shall in any proceedings before it —
(a)grant such relief, redress or remedy or combination of remedies, either absolute or conditional; and
(b)give such and the like effect to every ground of defence or counterclaim equitable or legal (subject to section 24),
as ought to be granted or given in the like action by the High Court and in as full and ample a manner.
(2)  Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (1), a District Court shall, as regards any action within its jurisdiction, have power —
(a)to grant an injunction whether or not any other relief is or could be claimed; and
(b)to make binding declarations of rights whether or not any consequential relief is or could be claimed.
Powers of District Judge in chambers
33.  A District Judge shall have jurisdiction in any civil proceeding pending in a District Court to make any order or to exercise any authority or jurisdiction which, if it related to a proceeding pending in the High Court, might be made or exercised by a Judge of the High Court in chambers.
Assessors
33A.—(1)  In any proceedings, a District Judge may, if he thinks fit on the application of any party, or on his own motion, summon to his assistance, in such manner as may be prescribed by Rules of Court, one or more persons of skill and experience in the matter to which the proceedings relate who may be willing to sit with the District Judge and act as assessors.
(2)  Subject to subsection (3), the remuneration of assessors for sitting under this section shall be at such rate as may be prescribed by Rules of Court and shall be costs in the proceedings unless otherwise ordered by the District Judge.
(3)  Where one or more assessors are summoned for the purposes of this section otherwise than on the application of a party to the proceedings, the remuneration of any such assessor shall be payable out of moneys provided by Parliament.
(4)  Where any person is proposed to be summoned as an assessor, objection to him, either personally or in respect of his qualification, may be taken by any party in the prescribed manner.”.
Repeal of section 36
16.  Section 36 of the principal Act is repealed.
Repeal and re-enactment of section 40
17.  Section 40 of the principal Act is repealed and the following section substituted therefor:
Costs of certain actions commenced in High Court which could have been commenced in a subordinate court
40.—(1)  Where an action founded on contract or tort or any written law to recover a sum of money is commenced in the High Court which could have been commenced in a subordinate court, then, subject to subsections (3) and (4), the plaintiff —
(a)if he recovers a sum not exceeding the District Court limit, shall not be entitled to any more costs of the action than those to which he would have been entitled if the action had been brought in a District Court; and
(b)if he recovers a sum not exceeding the Magistrate’s Court limit, shall not be entitled to any more costs of the action than those to which he would have been entitled if the action had been brought in a Magistrate’s Court:
Provided that this section shall not affect any question as to costs if it appears to the High Court that there was reasonable ground for supposing the amount recoverable in respect of the plaintiff’s claim to be in excess of the amount recoverable in an action commenced in a subordinate court.
(2)  For the purposes of subsection (1)(a) and (b), a plaintiff shall be treated as recovering the full amount recoverable in respect of his claim without regard to any deduction made in respect of contributory negligence on his part or otherwise in respect of matters not falling to be taken into account in determining whether the action could have been commenced in a subordinate court.
(3)  Where a plaintiff is entitled to costs on the subordinate courts scale only, the Registrar of the Supreme Court shall have the same power of allowing any items of costs as a District Judge or Magistrate would have had if the action had been brought in a subordinate court.
(4)  In any action, the High Court, if satisfied —
(a)that there was sufficient reason for bringing the action in the High Court; or
(b)that the defendant or one of the defendants objected to the transfer of the action to a subordinate court,
may make an order allowing the costs or any part of the costs thereof on the High Court scale or on the subordinate courts scale as it may direct.
(5)  This section shall not apply in the case of any proceedings by the Government.”.
New section 41A
18.  The principal Act is amended by inserting, immediately after section 41, the following section:
Allocation of proceedings to High Court
41A.—(1)  The Chief Justice may, where he considers it necessary or expedient to improve efficiency in the administration of justice and to provide for more speedy disposal of proceedings commenced in the District Courts, by order direct such class or classes or description of proceedings as may be specified in the order to be heard and determined by the High Court.
(2)  Any order under subsection (1) may make such incidental provision for the transfer of the proceedings to the High Court (including matters relating to procedure and costs) as the Chief Justice thinks fit.”.
Repeal of sections 44, 45 and 46 and re-enactment of section 44
19.  Sections 44, 45 and 46 of the principal Act are repealed and the following section substituted therefor:
Enforcement of judgments of District Courts
44.  Subject to section 43(3), a judgment or order of a District Court may be enforced in any manner prescribed by Rules of Court.”.
Repeal and re-enactment of sections 50 and 51
20.  Sections 50 and 51 of the principal Act are repealed and the following sections substituted therefor:
Jurisdiction of District Courts exercising criminal jurisdiction
50.—(1)  Subject to subsection (2), a District Court exercising criminal jurisdiction shall have the jurisdiction and powers conferred on it by the Criminal Procedure Code (Cap. 68) and any other written law.
(2)  The criminal jurisdiction of a District Court shall be exercisable where the offence is committed —
(a)within Singapore;
(b)on board any ship or aircraft registered in Singapore;
(c)by any person who is a citizen of Singapore on the high seas or on any aircraft; and
(d)in any place or by any person if it is provided in any written law that the offence is triable in Singapore.
Criminal jurisdiction of Magistrates’ Courts
51.—(1)  Subject to subsection (2), a Magistrate’s Court shall have the jurisdiction and powers conferred on it by the Criminal Procedure Code (Cap. 68) and any other written law.
(2)  The criminal jurisdiction of a Magistrate’s Court shall be exercisable where the offence is committed —
(a)within Singapore;
(b)on board any ship or aircraft registered in Singapore;
(c)by any person who is a citizen of Singapore on the high seas or on any aircraft; and
(d)in any place or by any person if it is provided in any written law that the offence is triable in Singapore.”.
Amendment of section 52
21.  Section 52 of the principal Act is amended —
(a)by inserting, immediately after “20” in the third line of subsection (1), the words “(except 20 (1)(b))”;
(b)by deleting “32” in subsection (1) and substituting “32 (1)”;
(c)by deleting “$10,000” at the end of subsection (1) and substituting the words “the Magistrate’s Court limit”; and
(d)by inserting, immediately after subsection (2), the following subsection:
(3)  The President may, after consulting the Chief Justice, by order vary the Magistrate’s Court limit.”.
New section 56A
22.  The principal Act is amended by inserting, immediately after section 56, the following section:
Reference of Constitutional Question
Reference of constitutional question to High Court
(1)  Where in any proceedings in a subordinate court a question arises as to the interpretation or effect of any provision of the Constitution, the court hearing the proceedings may stay the proceedings on such terms as may be just to await the decision of the question on the reference to the High Court.
(2)  An order staying proceedings under this section may be made by the court of its own motion or on the application of any party and shall be made at such stage of the proceedings as the court may see fit having regard to the decision of such questions of fact as may be necessary to be settled to assist the High Court in deciding the question which has arisen and to the speedy and economical final determination of the proceedings.
(3)  Where an order for stay of proceedings has been made under this section, the court shall state the question which in its opinion has arisen as to the interpretation or effect of the Constitution in the form of a special case which so far as may be possible shall state the question in a form which shall permit of an answer being given in the affirmative or the negative.
(4)  The court shall cause the special case to be transmitted to the High Court and the High Court shall hear and determine the constitutional question arising out of the case in the exercise of its original jurisdiction.
(5)  Notice of the hearing of the special case by the High Court under this section shall be given to the Attorney-General who shall have a right to be heard.”.
Amendment of section 69
23.  Section 69 of the principal Act is amended —
(a)by inserting, immediately after paragraph (f) of subsection (3), the following paragraph:
(fa)enabling proceedings —
(i)to be commenced in a subordinate court against the estate of a deceased person (whether by the appointment of a person to represent the estate or otherwise) where no grant of probate or letters of administration has been made;
(ii)purporting to have been commenced in a subordinate court by or against a person to be treated, if he was dead at their commencement, as having been commenced by or against, as the case may be, his estate whether or not a grant of probate or letters of administration was made before their commencement; and
(iii)commenced or treated as commenced in a subordinate court by or against the estate of a deceased person to be maintained (whether by substitution of parties, amendment or otherwise) by or against, as the case may be, a person appointed to represent the estate or, if a grant of probate or letters of administration is or has been made, by or against the personal representatives;”; and
(b)by inserting, immediately after the words “a District Judge,” in subsection (4), the words “a legal officer in the Singapore Legal Service,”.
Transitional provisions
24.  Notwithstanding the amendments in Part IV of the principal Act, that Part shall continue in force and have effect in relation to proceedings which are pending in a subordinate court immediately before the commencement of this Act as if this Act had not been enacted, except that sections 33A, 41A and 56A in Part IV as inserted by this Act shall apply to such proceedings.