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Southeast Asian Legal Research Guide: Case Law

Where to find Singapore Cases

REPORTS

The Singapore Law Reports is Singapore's official law report series. It is available on LawNet (UniMelb staff & student access) 1965 - to current

Other report series on LawNet include:

  • Singapore Syariah Appeals Reports (vol 1, 1982 to current)
  • Heritage Law Reports (1808-1980). This series combines the following law report series in one set: 
    • Federated Malay States Law Reports
    • Johore Law Reports
    • Kyshe Reports
    • Malayan Cases
    • Malayan Law Journal Reports (contains Singapore judgments from 1932-1991)
    • Malayan Union Law Reports
    • Singapore Law Reports (1946-56)
    • Straits Law Journal
    • Straits Settlement Law Reports
  • Singapore Construction Adjudication Review (2010-2016)

UNREPORTED DECISIONS

The Supreme Court website (open access) includes:

  • Supreme Court decisions for the most recent three months (earlier decisions are on LawNet - see below)
  • Very useful Case Summaries of Supreme Court decisions (2010 to current) 

Singapore Law Watch - from the Singapore Academy of Law (open access) includes unreported decisions from:

LawNet (UniMelb staff & student access) includes unreported decisions from 1965 to current from:

  • Constitutional Tribunal
  • Privy Council 
  • Court of Appeal 
  • High Court 
  • District Court
  • Family Court 
  • Magistrates Court 
  • Juvenile Court

Finding Cases on a Topic

Use LawNet (UniMelb staff & student access) to find cases on a topic. You can:

  1. Select 'Subject Browse' from the home page. You can select from a list of broad subjects in this 'Subject Tree', or open the folders to narrow the topic. Once the list of cases appears, you can keep narrowing the topic from the subject menu at the left hand side of the page. You can also refine by selecting catchwords and decades/years from the left hand menu. This method finds cases from all databases - judgments, decisions and law reports.
  2. Select Advanced Search from the home page, select 'catchwords' from the Field Search Terms menu, and type your term in the 'contains' box. You can either leave the default setting to search all cases, or select which you want searched (eg: only the Singapore Law Reports). You can also add in a date range. Once the list of cases appears, you can narrow further by Catchword, using the left hand menu - for example, you may be only interested in 'accused person' in constitutional law, not criminal law.

 

3. Once in a case, the Subject Tree appears at the top of the left hand menu. The folders open up to more specific topics. Use this to find more cases on your topic.

 

Books on Courts and the Judiciary

The Supreme Court of Singapore
Image Source: Wikipedia

Court Hierarchy

Until 1994, the Judicial Committee of The Privy Council in the UK was the court of final appeal for Singapore. 1989, Singapore abolished appeals to the Privy Council in all cases other than those involving the death penalty, or in civil cases where the parties had agreed to such a right of appeal. The remaining rights of appeal were abolished in 1994. 

The Supreme Court of Singapore is now Singapore's highest court. It is made up of the Court of Appeal and the High Court. The Court of Appeal is the highest court of the country and, as the court of final appeal, only deals with appellate cases. The High Court hears criminal and civil matters at first instance, and also appeals from Subordinate Courts. A special division of the High Court is the Singapore International Commercial Court (SICC), which is designed to deal only with transnational commercial disputes.

A Constitutional Tribunal (comprising three Supreme Court judges) has limited jurisdiction in constitutional matters. See the Judicial Review box on the Constitutional Law page of this guide for more information.

The Subordinate Courts form the lower tier of the hierarchy of courts. One category of Subordinate Courts is the State Courts, which comprise District Courts, Magistrates’ Courts, Coroners’ Courts, Small Claims Tribunals and Employment Claims Tribunals. The other category of Subordinate Courts comprises the Family Courts and Youth Courts. 

Muslim law is administered by a Syariah Court. However, the High Court has concurrent jurisdiction with the Syariah Court on specific matters relating to maintenance, custody and division of property.

For more information on the Court system, see Section 7: 'The Judiciary' in Singapore Law Watch's The Singapore Legal System (open access).

Subsequent Judicial Consideration - Finding Cases Citing a Case

Use LawNet (UniMelb staff & student access).

Navigate to your case. At the top of the screen, above the case citation, you'll see a ribbon summarising subsequent treatment of the decision. Clicking on this will open a new window containing a hyperlinked list of cases in order of treatment.

Alternatively, on the left hand of the page of your case, you'll see a list of all cases citing your case ('Referring'), and all cases cited in your case ('Referred to'). This list provides links directly to the cases, but does not sort them in treatment order.

Finding Cases on Legislation and Specific Legislative Provisions

Use LawNet (UniMelb staff & student access).

  • From the Legal Research heading, select 'Reference Trace'. Under the heading 'Legislation Reference Search' type in the name or of the Act, or Act/Cap or SL number. You can refine this further by typing in a specific section and sub-section/s (up to 3 levels).
  • The results will list and link to law reports and unreported judgments and decisions under the 'Category' heading - all results are in full text. 

Keeping up to Date

Singapore Law Watch - from the Singapore Academy of Law (open access) includes:

Email and rss feed alerts can be set up so you are kept up to date with new bills, legislation passed etc.

Singapore Supreme Court - latest cases - rss feed from Singapore Law Watch

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