SDP's court appeal against two correction orders not open to public
The Singapore Democratic Party's (SDP's) court appeal against two correction directions issued against it under the fake news law is not open to the public or the media, owing to prevailing rules governing both the law and the courts.
A High Court spokesman told The Straits Times yesterday that the SDP's appeal against the corrections was filed by way of an originating summons, which is one of two possible modes of starting a civil action.
This is in accordance with the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (Pofma) rules.
The High Court website said an originating summons is a simpler and faster procedure than the other mode, which is by writ of summons, as it is "determined generally on affidavits filed and does not involve pleadings or many interlocutory proceedings".
The rules of court also provide that all originating summonses shall be heard in chambers, subject to directions of the Court, among other things, the High Court added.
"As the Pofma appeal was filed by way of an originating summons, the appeal was hence arranged to be heard in chambers instead of open court," the spokesman said.
The SDP had said in a Facebook post on Monday that it will make an application to the judge to have its case, challenging the Manpower Ministry's correction directions, heard in an open court instead of in chambers when the session is convened tomorrow morning.
It added the case, with the Attorney-General named as the respondent, should be open to the public as the matter "has drawn widespread and intense public interest".
One way for the case to be heard in an open court is for the judge to convert the originating summons into a writ action.
This was done last year in a case involving two Teochew clan associations, in which Senior Judge Andrew Ang allowed the move as he said it would enable a fairer resolution of the dispute.
The SDP case involves two corrections ordered last month by the ministry for two of the party's Facebook posts and an article on its website which the ministry said contained falsehoods.