SINGAPORE: More people are turning to Singapore's highest court over the years, with 50 per cent more Court of Appeal cases being heard now compared with 2013.
Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon revealed this in his speech at the Opening of the Legal Year 2019 on Monday (Jan 7), which marks the start of the year for the law industry.
Cases involving both civil and criminal matters have increased steadily over the years, according to a spokesman for the Supreme Court.
"Additionally, we have seen cases of increasing complexity, as reflected in some of the judgments that have been handed down," said the Chief Justice.
One such case was the ACB v Thomson Medical case, where the court considered if a plaintiff could claim costs for raising a child conceived in an in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) sperm mix-up.
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To cope with the rise in the number of cases, Justice Woo Bih Li will be joining Justices Belinda Ang and Quentin Loh in the Apex Court.
Additionally, the number of sitting days for the Court of Appeal has been increased this year.
"Beyond this, we will also examine possible structural adjustments to help address the growing appellate caseload," said Chief Justice Menon.
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ONLINE DISPUTE PLATFORM FOR MOTOR ACCIDENT CLAIMS
He also spoke at length about transformation and innovation within the judiciary. One of the first major initiatives - an online dispute resolution platform for motor accident claims - will be launched in phases from the end of the year.
"The aim is to enable members of the public to resolve motor accident disputes online, very likely at lower cost," said the Chief Justice.
Called the Online Dispute Resolution platform, it will be made up of three components: An outcome simulator, which will help applicants find out how much they can get from the settlement; an online settlement module; and an online mediation segment.
The system will be accessible around the clock by those who need to make vehicle accident claims, said a High Court spokesman.
When completed, the system will allow applicants to resolve disputes more efficiently, without the need to meet in person, and consequently, reduce costs.
Turning to legal education reform, Chief Justice Menon said successful lawyering today "requires far more than just knowledge of the law".
"It demands competencies commonly associated with other disciplines, ranging from business and finance to project management and information technology," he said. "Consequently, law schools may need to do more than educate students in the law."
This education of the future generation of lawyers is a complex and dynamic question that cannot be answered by law schools alone, he said.