Reframing Approach to Community Disputes
Thank you. Mdm Chair, high-density living is part and parcel of life in Singapore. Inevitably, there are cases where neighbours misunderstand each other and end up in disputes.
In Singapore, I recognise that we have adopted both a legal and community solution. On the legal front, we have the Community Dispute Resolution Tribunal (CDRT) and Community Mediation Centre.
Notwithstanding our efforts, the feedback I have received from residents in such situations is that the current community dispute resolution framework is not effective. They shared that errant neighbours do not comply with the orders of the CDRT or flout a mediation agreement. This is where our framework needs to have more bite to encourage compliance with the relevant orders and agreements.
In a recent engagement with Dr William Wan, Chairperson of the Community Advisory Panel on Neighbourhood Noise, he told me and echoed the need for more legal teeth such as requiring mandatory attendance at mediations and to strengthen the enforcement of agreements between disputing neighbours.
He highlighted the Government’s successful implementation of table littering rules at hawker centres, noting the high compliance by individuals given the threat of a fine. This example illustrates that a behavioural incentive model underpinned by legal sanctions can drive positive behaviour, leading to social benefits.
As MinLaw is uniquely positioned to consider the introduction of stricter enforcement within the community disputes framework, will Minister review the prevailing policy to increase compliance of individuals with orders and agreements and also provide us an update on the inter-Ministry review of the community dispute framework he mentioned last year?
Separately, I also believe that key to an effective implementation is by taking a more proactive stance. Thus, the introduction of a regime of trained on-the-ground councillors to actively engage parties involved in a community dispute at an early stage might facilitate the CDRT process. In this regard, will MinLaw consider reviewing the existing framework to facilitate the use of persons with specialised knowledge to manage community disputes?
Reinvigorate Civil Enforcement Framework
Mdm Chair, Singapore has experienced robust growth and recognition as a reliable centre that is business-friendly and with a legal jurisdiction not just locally but also on the international front. This has led to the in-flight of high-value multinational enterprises (MNEs) to establish their presence or headquarters in Singapore. This is key for Singapore’s long-term growth and global presence.
Singapore has become the choice jurisdiction for many for the conduct of complex and high-value litigations and dispute resolution for MNEs and high net worth individuals. It is therefore key for businesses and individuals to be able to rely on Singapore’s legal system not just for swift justice but also effective justice.
In this regard, there is scope for improvements in our legal enforcement framework.
At the end of a civil litigation proceeding, it is usual for the Court to issue an Order or Judgement, for which it often involves a monetary sum known as the judgement sum. This judgement sum is often not easy to enforce. Therefore, it is not uncommon to hear corporates as well as individuals having trouble in enforcing these monies, which if not paid, makes this a paper judgement.
I recognise that the Singapore Courts has in recent years improved the judicial process related to civil procedures to facilitate access to justice. As such, can the Minister explain new measures that MinLaw is considering to improve the civil enforcement process in Singapore?
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