Supreme Court of Singapore
Describe about the Legal Research and Writing for Supreme and State Court.
Judiciary is one of the most important branches of Singapore government along with the two other branches namely Executive and Legislature. As per article 93 of Singaporean Constitution, the judicial power is authorized to the Supreme Court and State courts. The head of the Singaporean Supreme Court is the Chief Justice (Supreme Court, 2016b).
Supreme Court of Singapore
The Supreme Court of Singapore comprises of the High Court along with the Court of Appeal, which deals with civil as well as criminal cases. The Supreme Court consists of a panel of members, including the Chief Justice, Judges, Judges of Appeal, Senior Judges, Judicial commissioners and International Judges. Registrar is the key individual who heads the registry of the Supreme Court. The Registrar is supported by the Deputy Registrar. In addition, the Registrar is also assisted by the Senior Assistant Manager as well as the Assistant Registrar. The Supreme Court also consists of Law Clerks, who operate under the guidance of Chief Justice. The function of the law clerks helps in research of the laws with regard to the appeals, which is made in-front of the Court of Appeal (Singapore Academy of Law, 2013a).
Court of Appeal. Court of Appeal is a judicial body that hears the appeal of the people against the decisions made by the High Court with regards to criminal and civil matters. It is headed by the Chief Justice and consists of three judges. The Court of Appeal is regarded as Singapore’s highest court and is considered to be the upper division of Singapore’s Supreme Court (Singapore Academy of Law, 2016b). Under the Judiciary Act, the Judge of the Court of Appeal can also administer the High Court, when he is free from the proceedings of the Court of Appeal. The Chief Justice has the right to appoint an inferior judge to his rank for sitting into to the Court of Appeal, which might tend to increase the effectiveness of courts. The decision taken regarding the Court of Appeal is also obligatory for all the courts in the judicial system (Tan, 2015).
High Court. The High Court comprises of puisne judges in addition to the Judicial Commissioners, which consists of appellate as well as original jurisdictions. With regards to the appellate jurisdictions, the High Court focuses more on the appeals of the Magistrate’s Court. Original jurisdiction involves the hearings that are outside the jurisdiction of the subordinate courts such as Magistrate’s Court. For example, the High Court deals in cases such murder and cases which involves damages worth $250,000 (Tan, 2015). The High Court in Singapore is the considered to be lower division of the Supreme Court and consists of members such as Chief Justice and High Court Judges. The function of the High Court is to listen to civil cases in addition to the criminal ones. The other function of High Court is to hear the appeals on decisions that have been made in District as well as in Magistrate Courts. The High Court also has supervisory jurisdiction in addition to the revisionary jurisdiction (Singapore Government, 2016).
Role of Supreme Court
Role of Supreme Court. The role of the Singaporean Supreme Court is to maintain the law and make sure that the justice is provided to everyone. A President is the one responsible for appointing the Chief Justice on the basis of Prime Minister’s advice. The Supreme Court being the highest law governing body listens to appeals from both the High Court and States Court. The key role of the Supreme Court ensures that the laws are properly maintained all over the country (Supreme Court, 2016a).
Figure 1: Relationship between the Judiciary and the Supreme Court
Source: (Supreme Court, 2016a).
State Courts are the law-makers for most of the cases that are filed by the people of the organizations in order to come up with an effective decision (George & Yoon, 2016). The shared vision of the State Courts of Singapore is to influence public confidence and trust with the help of effective judicial systems. The mission of the State Courts of Singapore is to serve the society by making quality judgments and providing the public with excellent community services. The core values of the Singaporean State courts their fairness, accessibility, independence, integrity, responsiveness and most importantly impartiality (State Courts Singapore, 2016c).
The Singaporean State Courts consists of District Courts along with Magistrate’s Court. The State Courts are also made up of small claim tribunals and specialized courts. The Specialized Courts of Singapore include Juvenile courts and family courts. State Court is considered to be important in Singapore as it deals in more than 95% of the total judiciary cases. The State Courts are administered by the Chief District Judge. The Chief administrator is assisted by a team of officers, who are responsible for passing the judgment before the cases are taken to the State Court (Singapore Academy of Law, 2013b).
Magistrate Courts. One of the components of the Singaporean State Courts is the Magistrate Court, which acts as the law governing body and deals with the cases, where the period of imprisonment is even less than five years. The Magistrate’s Courts also includes cases that can be solved with payment of fines or penalties. The Magistrate’s Court of Singapore also has the jurisdiction, which can give order for imprisonment, even exceeding the time limit of 3 years in some cases as per the Common Gaming Houses Act (Cap 49). The company can also charge an individual as per their Miscellaneous Offences Act (State Courts Singapore, 2016b).
District Court. The District Court of Singapore is the judiciary body that looks after the criminal case in which the imprisonment for crime is less than ten years and can be solved with the fine payment by the offender. With regard to the fine, the District Court can only charge the offender with fine, which is below $30,000. The District Court can pass any combined sentences that are authorized as per the law. The Court has jurisdiction to sentence the offender for more than ten years time-period, as per the Companies Act (Cap 50) along with the Misuse of Drugs Act (Cap 185). The District can also sentence the offender as per the Securities Industry Act (Cap 289) and Prevention of Corruption Act (Cap 241) (State Courts Singapore, 2016b).
As per the case of Public Prosecutor v Tan Kim Hup  SGHC 237, the offender was convicted under the Misuse of Drugs Act (Cap 185). As per this, the accused was guilty of having 27 diamorphine packets in his possession as a part of his trafficking business. The case was serious enough for the high court to deal with as the offense might results in death-sentence. (Singapore Academy of Law, 2016a).
It can be said that the Supreme Court of Singapore is a Judiciary body, which looks after both the criminal as well civil cases. The Supreme Court is divided into two groups, which are Court of Appeal and High Court. The Court of Appeal is the highest division of the Supreme Court and the High Court is the lower division of the court. The Supreme Court is administered by the Chief Justice along with other officials. State Courts of Singapore are essential part of Judiciary systems as it handles more than 95% of the total cases relating to civil and criminal matters. The State Court of Singapore is made up of Magistrate’s Court and District Courts. These courts deal with cases which can sentence the offender for lesser time period or can even order the offender to pay certain amount of fine.
The Singaporean law is based on constitution, legislation, laws made by the judge and subsidiary legislation. The Constitution of Singapore has created primary principles and framework, under which the three branches of government operates, namely the executive branch, legislative and judicial branch. The Executive branch consists of the President along with the Cabinet, while the Legislature branch comprises the President with the support of Parliament, who are together responsible for passing the legislation. The Judicial branch finally entails an independent body, whose function is to administer justice and is protected by the Constitution of Singapore (Singapore Lawyers, 2016).
Primary Sources of Singaporean Law
Primary sources of law are statements that have been authorized by the government body such as the president, the courts and legislature (Oesterle Library, 2008). The primary sources of law in Singapore are primary legislation, electronic sources of legislation, treaties, common law and case law.
Primary Legislation and Electronic Sources. The primary legislation is a joint plan made by the Chamber of Attorney General along with Finance Ministry, Management of Excellence Office and the Singaporean Statutes Online, which gives the people of Singapore full access to the acts that are enforced by the Parliament. The Statutes Online of Singapore is often regarded as the division of versioned legislation database (VLDB). This includes official bills along with Singaporean subsidiary legislation and the Acts. The Singapore Statutes also provides the public with the facility to search for any act (IBP, Inc., 2015). The electronic sources of law include the bills introduced during the initiation of the 10th Parliament. The bills are available on the website of Singapore Parliament. The statutes of Singapore are regarded as the source for primary legislation that is widely available in the form of printed documents (Sim, 2007).
Common Law. The common law of Singapore is characterized by the principles of judicial standard. As per the doctrine, the laws are enforced by the judges with the help of legal principles with regard to the facts taken from some of the cases. The judges therefore apply for the ratio decidendi, which refers to the reason for making the decision. The use of the ratio decidendi, thus can be seen in the Court of Appeal along with the decision making process in the High Court, District Court and the Magistrate’s Court (Sim, 2007).
General Primary Sources. LawNet is one of the general sources that have helped in the key legal research on Singapore, which is controlled by Singapore Academy of Law. The LawNet provides access to the legislation, treatises and case laws of Singapore, which includes subsidiary legislation, statutes, decisions made by various courts, law reports and unreported judgments. The primary sources also include Singapore Law Watch, which provides the public with legal news in addition to the RSS feeds on the basis of judgments that are taken by the Supreme Court of Singapore (National University of Singapore, 2014).
Secondary Sources of law are the materials that describe, interpret and analyze the nature of the law including law reviews, treatises and newspapers. The secondary sources are helpful in providing extensive citation with regard to the primary information in addition to other appropriate sources. The secondary sources of law provide examination of the primary laws, which helps in understanding the importance of primary laws in a better manner. The secondary sources of laws are used for the purpose of locating and explaining the primary sources, as it might affect the legal decisions without having any control over the primary sources. Library provides an extensive collection of secondary sources for law. Legal directories can also be taken as secondary sources as it provides detailed explanation of the legal terms. Another form of secondary law source comprises the interpreted law reports providing information about a particular law. The annotated report focuses on narrow legal matters and provides insights of the cases with regard to every jurisdiction. The annotated law reports also provide references with regard to the statutes, treaties, texts and law reviews (Library of Congress, 2015).
Treatises are also a part of secondary sources. The treatises are helpful in focusing on a particular area of law. The reason for treatises to be considered as a part of secondary sources is its tendency to describe the law. The treatises are often considered good finder of the laws because of their influential nature, thereby providing an in-depth study of an area of law. Other secondary sources of law are the legal periodicals. These are the articles refer are important sources of law, which provides detailed information about the narrow area and issues of law. Legal periodicals are the articles comprising legal journals, which are theoretical and largely persuasive in nature, used primarily t for describing the laws effectively (Yale University, 2016), Some of the legal periodicals include Singapore Academy of Law Journal, Singapore Law Review and Singapore Journal of Legal Studies, which can be found both in printed as well as in electronic form (Bodleian Libraries, 2015).
The primary and secondary sources are immensely essential as it provides a large amount of information and helps in understanding of law. Primary sources include texts that are related to the law itself including the court cases. The importance of primary sources of law is that it enables the public to understand the operations that need to be undertaken. The primary source of law includes the punishments that are given to the individuals for breaking the law. With regards to the court cases, the primary sources of law also include information regarding the existing law.
The secondary sources of law are often the written facts and information that helps in comprehending law followed by interpreting and analyzing the primary sources such as court cases. The importance of the secondary sources of law is that it provides other facts and information in addition to the analysis of court cases. The secondary sources are not the law but act as a commentary. The use of the secondary sources is helpful in understanding of laws and mostly includes journals and reports.
Bodleian Libraries. (2015). Singapore law journals. Retrieved from https://libguides.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/c.php?g=423097&p=2889031
George, T. E. & Yoon, A. H. (2016). Who sits in judgment on State Courts. The Gavel Gap, 2-28.
IBP, Inc. (2015). Singapore criminal laws, regulations and procedures handbook: strategic information, regulations, procedures. USA: Lulu.com.
Library of Congress. (2015). Guide to secondary legal resources. Retrieved from https://www.loc.gov/law/help/secondary-rsrcs.php
National University of Singapore. (2014). Primary sources of law. Retrieved from https://libportal.nus.edu.sg/frontend/ms/c-j-koh-law-library/research/legal-resources-on-the-web/law-in-singapore/primary-sources-of-law#LegGen
Oesterle Library. (2008). Primary and secondary sources in law. Oesterle Library Information Literacy & Instruction Program, 1.
Sim, T. Z. (2007). A guide to the Singapore legal system and legal research. Retrieved from https://www.nyulawglobal.org/globalex/Singapore.html#_Primary_Sources_of_Law
Singapore Academy of Law. (2013a). State Courts of Singapore. Retrieved from https://www.singaporelaw.sg/sglaw/singapore-legal-system/2013-01-28-11-14-34/state-courts
Singapore Academy of Law. (2013b). Supreme Court of Singapore. Retrieved from https://www.singaporelaw.sg/sglaw/singapore-legal-system/2013-01-28-11-14-34/supreme-court
Singapore Academy of Law. (2016a). Public prosecutor v Tan Kim Hup  SGHC 237. Retrieved from https://www.singaporelaw.sg/sglaw/laws-of-singapore/case-law/free-law/high-court-judgments/20443-public-prosecutor-v-tan-kim-hup
Singapore Academy of Law. (2016b). Section 1 introduction. Retrieved from https://www.singaporelaw.sg/sglaw/laws-of-singapore/overview/chapter-1
Singapore Government. (2016). Supervisory and revisionary jurisdiction. Retrieved from https://statutes.agc.gov.sg/aol/search/display/view.w3p;ident=cb89582a-2235-45bc-a255-8c2c72d46b46;page=0;query=DocId%3A%224a6359f9-a3f3-45b9-aa01-c366b2b7c844%22%20Status%3Ainforce%20Depth%3A0;rec=0
Singapore Lawyers. (2016). Law of Singapore. Retrieved from https://singapore-lawyers.com/laws-of-singapore.html
State Courts Singapore. (2016a). District courts. Retrieved from https://www.statecourts.gov.sg/CriminalCase/Pages/District-Courts.aspx
State Courts Singapore. (2016b). Magistrates' court. Retrieved from https://www.statecourts.gov.sg/CriminalCase/Pages/Magistrate's-Court.aspx
State Courts Singapore. (2016c). The justice statement. Retrieved from https://www.statecourts.gov.sg/AboutStateCourts/Pages/TheJusticeStatement.aspx
Supreme Court. (2016a). Role of Supreme Court. Retrieved from https://www.supremecourt.gov.sg/about-us/the-supreme-court/role-of-supreme-court
Supreme Court. (2016b). Structure of the courts. Retrieved from https://www.supremecourt.gov.sg/about-us/the-supreme-court/structure-of-the-courts
Tan, K. Y. L. (2015). The Constitution of Singapore: A contextual analysis. London: Bloomsbury Publishing.
Yale University. (2016). Secondary sources. Retrieved from https://library.law.yale.edu/secondary-sources
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