Claims from road traffic, industrial accidents to be raised from 1 December 2016

The Supreme and State Court have announced that the State Courts’ jurisdiction for claims arising from road traffic accidents and claims for personal injuries resulting from industrial accidents will be increased from $250,000 to $500,000 with effect from 1 December 2016.

They said that the change is part of the plans to increase the civil district courts’ monetary jurisdictional limit in phases, which was announced by the Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon at the State Courts Workplan 2016.

Supreme and State Court noted that parties who wish to file for damages of between $250,000 and $500,000 for claims arising from such cases will still commence action in the High Court.

These cases will then be automatically transferred to the State Courts’ civil district courts, and they will follow the same statutes, Rules of Court and Practice Directions, and hearing and appellate structure that are currently applicable to district court cases of the same nature.

Graphical overview of the increase in the State Courts’ jurisdiction for claims arising from road traffic accidents and personal injuries resulting from industrial accidents :

Source : Supreme and State Court.
Source : Supreme and State Court.

As stated in the State Courts Workplan, a review was conducted on the civil district courts’ monetary jurisdictional
limit.  The changes on the limit will be implemented in phase, starting with the ceiling for personal injury
and property damage claims that can be heard by the civil district courts. This would apply to all claims for personal injuries and property damage arising from motor accidents, and personal injuries from industrial accidents.

It is said that the changes are due, given that the civil district courts’ monetary jurisdictional limit was last increased more than 18 years ago and therefore timely to consider increasing this jurisdictional limit, to reflect the increasing cost of living and the rate of annual inflation over the past 18 years.

There has been an increasing trend in recent years in which higher value claims in excess of the State Courts’ current civil monetary jurisdictional of $250,000 are heard in the State Courts. Such cases were either transferred from the Supreme Court, or heard by the State Courts because parties with claims exceeding the district courts’ jurisdictional limit had agreed, under section 23 of the State Courts Act, to have their cases heard in the State
Courts.

This trend is most notable in the area of personal injury litigation and suggests that parties are prepared to have the State Courts adjudicate claims of a much higher value, indicating strong trust and confidence in the State Courts. The operational and resource requirements of implementing the increase in the monetary jurisdictional limit of the civil district courts for personal injury and property damage claims are currently being looked into. The changes are expected to be implemented in early 2017.