More criminal cases going for mediation

More criminal cases going for mediation

SINGAPORE - When one of Mr Selva Naidu's clients was charged with negligent driving leading to a pedestrian's death, the case did not go to trial first.

Instead, the lawyer and the prosecution took it to mediation.

Both sides agreed on the facts, which said the driver knocked down the pedestrian as she dashed across a no-crossing zone at South Bridge Road.

What was in dispute was "whether the driver's acts constituted negligence under the law", said Mr Naidu.

After the mediating judge said the acts were at the lowest end of negligence, the driver agreed to plead guilty and accept a fine.

Not only did mediation - part of the Criminal Case Resolution (CCR) process - save the court's time and costs, it also avoided "more trauma", Mr Naidu said, as it did away with the need for a reconstruction of the accident, and calling up of other witnesses.

He said: "CCR pre-empted all this." While far less visible than mediation in family and civil law cases, CCR is seeing a rise in the the Subordinate Courts.

In the 12 months up to August, 72 cases have been successfully resolved, leading to a saving of 207 hearing days - up from 152 hearing days saved through 98 CCR cases in the three years from the end of 2009 to August last year.

"We have seen a steady increase in the use of CCR. For instance, in September last year, there were six such cases. But the figure more than doubled to 15 this August," said a Subordinate Courts spokesman.

"Predominantly, cases involving Penal Code offences such as property-related offences or voluntarily causing hurt have been referred for CCR," she added.

Other cases include corruption, moneylending, drugs and immigration offences, as well as regulatory offences under the Building Control Act and Workplace Safety and Health Act.

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