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A Magistrate's Complaint can be filed by any person who wishes to seek redress for an offence that they believe has been committed against them. The person filing the complaint is known as the "Complainant" and the person against whom the application is made is known as the "Respondent". The complaint should be made in the standard Magistrate's Complaint form which can be found here. The completed form should be submitted to the Complaints Counter of the Crime Registry (State Courts, Level 1), together with a copy of the Police report, if any, and a photocopy of the Complainant’s identity card (NRIC). A fee of $20.00 is payable once the completed form is submitted.
The Complainant has to affirm or swear to the truth and accuracy of the matters stated in the application form before a Magistrate. If the Magistrate is satisfied that the application is in order, he may do any of the following:
Issuance of Notices
When the Court directs that a Notice be issued to both the Complainant and the Respondent, the Crime Registry will prepare the Notices informing parties of the date and time they are required to appear before a Magistrate or a Justice of Peace (JP) in Chambers for a procedure known as "Criminal Mediation". In appropriate cases, parties may also be notified to attend mediation at the Community Mediation Centre (CMC). The CMC has a panel of trained mediators who are respected members of society from all walks of life.
If the matter is settled at CMC, parties will sign a Settlement Agreement. If settlement is not reached, fresh Notices will be sent to the Complainant and the Respondent to appear before the Magistrate or JP on another day.
When a Magistrate directs that a Notice be issued to both the Complainant and the Respondent, it means that the matter is fixed for criminal mediation before a Magistrate or JP in Chambers.The Complainant must be present on the day of the criminal mediation. Otherwise, it will be deemed that the Complainant is no longer interested in pursuing the complaint and the Magistrate will strike out the complaint.When both parties appear before the Magistrate or JP for criminal mediation, the Magistrate or JP may mediate the matter. If a settlement is reached, the complaint will be withdrawn, and no further action will be taken. If there is no settlement, the Complainant may wish to proceed to trial by way of a private summons. A Summons will be issued once the Complainant has prepared necessary charges against the Respondent. There is a fee of $20 payable for each Summons.
Service of Summons
The Complainant must serve the Summons on the Respondent. This is to give the Respondent notice that a Complaint has been made against him/her. Service of Summons can be done in the following ways:
If personal service fails, the process server may obtain the Court's approval to serve the Summons by:
It should be noted that a Summons cannot be served on a Respondent who is residing outside Singapore. If the Complainant does not know the current address of the Respondent, the Court will ascertain the address through available official records (where possible) to effect service accordingly.However, if it can be shown that the Respondent is no longer residing at the address that is reflected in the available official records, the Complainant has a duty to find out the Respondent's current local address where he resides. If the address cannot be determined, the Complaint cannot proceed.
Hearing of Summons
The case will proceed to hearing once the Summons has been served on the Respondent. At the hearing, the Respondent will be asked to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. If the Respondent elects to plead guilty, the Court will adjourn the matter (either before or after the plea is taken) for the Complainant to write to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) for the Respondent's criminal records to be forwarded to the Court before the sentence is imposed. At the next adjourned note, the Respondent will be sentenced accordingly once the criminal records have been forwarded to the Court.
The matter will proceed to trial if the Respondent elects to claim trial to the charge(s). The parties will give evidence in open court to prove their respective cases. The usual procedures of calling witnesses to support their case as well as the cross examining of witnesses will take place in open court. Cross-examination refers to the questioning of witnesses on what is said in evidence by the other party or his lawyer. The respective parties or lawyers representing the case will then present a summary of the case with the supporting arguments to the trial judge. The duration of the trial may take one or several days depending on the complexity of the case. At the end of the hearing, the Court will decide whether the Respondent is guilty of the offence(s) as charged.
If the Respondent is absent on the day of the trial, the Court may issue a Warrant of Arrest against him. If a Warrant of Arrest is issued, the matter will be handed over to the Warrant Enforcement Unit* (a division of the Singapore Police Force) for execution. This may not take effect immediately. Once the Warrant of Arrest is executed, the police will arrest the Respondent and produce him in court. The Court will offer the option to post bail for the Respondent, and the case may be re-fixed for mediation for parties to resolve the matter. If the mediation fails, the Complainant has the option to proceed with the trial against the Respondent at a later date. *All enquiries on the status of execution of Warrants of Arrest may be made to the Warrant Enforcement Unit located at:
Central Police Division HQ 391 New Bridge Road, Police Cantonment Complex Blk A Singapore 088762. The contact number is Tel: 6557 5017/ Fax: 6220 5083.
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