The Justice Statement
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History of State Courts
Court Governance and Administration
Construction of State Courts Towers
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EMPLOYMENT CLAIMS TRIBUNALS
Types of Claims which the ECT can hear
Before filing a Claim
Filing a Claim
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Settlement of disputes and Appeals
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How do I appeal against the Registrar's discontinuance order to the Referee (Small Claims Tribunals)?
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Small Claims Tribunals
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Before the construction of the current State Courts building at Havelock Square, the courthouses operated from various locations.
Criminal District and Magistrates' Courts
Criminal District and Magistrates' Courts, circa 1950s
Source: National Archives, Singapore
The Criminal District and
Magistrates’ Courts were situated at South Bridge Road between North Canal Road
and Upper Pickering Street. They date back to as far as 1877 and were also
known throughout the years as the “Police Courts”, “Magistrates’ Courts”, and
“Criminal District and Police Courts”. In 1951, two courthouses that were meant
to be temporary were built in Hong Lim Green but they eventually remained there
for more than 20 years, until the completion of the then Subordinate Courts
building in 1975.
The 7th and 8th Magistrates’ Courts
were situated next to each other along New Bridge Road, opposite Singapore
These courts were originally the 3rd Traffic Court, Juvenile Court
and Maintenance Court, until they were gazetted as Magistrates’ Courts in order
to complement the work of the other Magistrates’ Courts.
9th and 10th Magistrates' Court, circa 1975
Known to the older Hokkien-speaking Singaporeans
as see pai poh (a reference to
the Sepoy lines), the former Sepoy Lines Police Station in Outram housed
the 1st and 2nd Traffic Courts in the 1930s. The 3rd
Traffic Court was created in 1967 at 395 New Bridge Road. They were later
re-designated as the 10th, 9th and 7th Magistrates’
The Coroners' Courts were originally housed with the Criminal and Magistrates' Courts at South Bridge Road until they were relocated to 250 Outram Road in 1956. The Outram Road premises comprised two courts and chambers, two witnesses' room, an interpreters' room and a general office. The Coroners' Courts subsequently moved into the Subordinate Courts building at Havelock Square in 1975.
Civil District Courts
Civil District Court at Empress Place, circa 1940s
Built in 1827, the present Arts
House at the Old Parliament building was home to the Civil District Courts
during the early 1900s until the courts moved to Empress Place in the 1930s.
Due to space constraints, the 4th District Court operated out of the
Supreme Court building at St. Andrew’s Road. It only moved back into the Civil
District Courts building in 1948 when the 5th District Court shifted
into the South Bridge Road Police Courts building.
Juvenile and Magistrates' Maintenance Courts
The Juvenile Court first operated out of a room at 3 Havelock Road, then the Chinese Secretariat Building. In 1960, it moved to 11 Fort Canning Road (a former government bungalow) where both juvenile and non-Muslim maintenance cases were heard. The building was designated as the Fort Canning Magistrates' Courts. Following the closure of the Fort Canning Courts in 1963, juvenile cases were heard at the Civil District Courts at Empress Place. Maintenance cases were heard at the Criminal District and Magistrates' Courts at South Bridge Road up until 1964, when they were heard at the Civil District Courts. In 1970, these courts shifted to 397 New Bridge Road to function as the Juvenile and Magistrates' Maintenance Court. The following year, maintenance cases were again moved back to be heard at the Criminal District and Magistrates' Courts at South Bridge Road.
Construction of Subordinate Courts building (aka "the Octagon") in the 1970s
Subordinate Courts building, September 1975
Singapore government called for tender-bids for the construction of the
Subordinate Courts building. This was to centralise all courthouses which were operating
from different locations. Construction works at the present Havelock Square site
began shortly after in 1973.
Subordinate Courts building and the Family & Juvenile Courts building, 2010
Source: State Courts, Singapore
In September 1975, the Subordinate Courts
building was completed and ready for use. The building housed 26 courtrooms over
an area of 30,600sqm. That year, the Magistrates’
Courts relocated to the Octagon.
The 1990s and early 2000s
Small Claims Tribunals
at Apollo Centre
Established in 1985, the
Small Claims Tribunals (SCT) operated from Apollo Centre (currently known as
2HR) along Havelock Road from 1998 to 2005. For the public’s
convenience, SCT also operated in Ang Mo Kio and Marine Parade. When Havelock
Square became more accessible due to the extension of the public transport
system in the early 2000s, all the SCT offices were relocated to the
Subordinate Courts building in 2005.
Due to the increased caseload in the 1980s and
1990s, more courtrooms were added to the building in 1986. Six civil courtrooms
and eight criminal courtrooms were added to the mezzanine level. By 1993, there
were 40 courtrooms and 28 hearing chambers.
On 1 March 1997, the corporate logo for the Subordinate
Courts was launched. The corporate logo drew its inspiration from a tympanum
sculpture which is featured on the façade of the Supreme Court building. The
central figure represents the Lady of Justice; to the left of the logo is a
person begging for mercy, and on the other side of the Lady of Justice is a
figure showing gratitude for justice received. The Lady of Justice holds aloft a pair of
scales, symbolising the universality and impartiality of justice as well as the
common law heritage of Singapore. Collectively, the sculpture is a powerful
symbol of the authority of the Subordinate Courts in administering justice and
upholding the Rule of Law and the values espoused by the Subordinate Courts.
The Next Phase
Renaming of State Courts
On 7 March 2014, the Subordinate Courts were renamed the State Courts. The new name gives proper recognition to the extensive and important role that the Courts play within the community and the judiciary. The logo was also updated to reflect the name change. The State Courts logo features an emblematic illustration of the new State Courts Complex together with a stylised bridge. On the left of the logo, a clean representation of the tower complex is applied – two coloured tower blocks representing the courtroom tower and the administrative tower. The towers are solid at the base, illustrating a firm commitment to justice anchored in the law while the angled peaked tops represent progress and aspiration towards excellence. The modern and sturdy typeface signifies the State Courts as a forum where justice prevails and disputes are resolved fairly and amicably.
The flat arc symbolically
represents a bridge connecting the two towers of the State Courts Complex.
Metaphorically, the stylised bridge that connects both the tower blocks not
only emphasises the inter-connectivity between the judicial and administrative
functions for the smooth running of the courthouse, but is also a
symbolic reminder of the need to ensure access to justice to the people
of Singapore through the State Courts’ unstinting commitment to serving
New State Courts Complex
The State Courts are slated
to move into a new high-rise building that sits adjacent to the Octagon. The
winning design from Serie + Multiply Consultants Pte Ltd reflects a civic
building that brings order and restoration, an image befitting of the State
Courts. At the same time, the design resolves to make a link to the adjacent
historic Chinatown by adopting the colours and textures of the clay-pitched
roofs of the conserved shophouses of the area, by cladding the exterior of the
courtrooms in terracotta tiles. The segregation created by the twin blocks
enhances the clarity in the circulation for the users and occupants.
On 28 May 2014, The
Honourable the Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon officiated the groundbreaking of
the new State Courts Complex. The new Complex, to be
completed in 2019, comprises two towers which will accommodate over 60
courtrooms and over 50 hearing chambers. The twin towers are linked by a series
of sky bridges that enable the controlled circulation of court visitors and
staff of the State Courts. An eco-friendly building, the new Complex features
naturally ventilated corridors and high-rise gardens to filter the afternoon
sun. The high-rise sky terraces bring green relief to the built-up city and
provide soothing gardens to the users.
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