Mr Leon Perera asked the Minister for Law (a) what is the average timespan of a manually-handled court case as compared to one managed under the Integrated Case Management System (ICMS); (b) what is the number of State Courts cases that have been adjourned over the ICMS system failure on 7 February 2023; and (c) what is the typical frequency and duration of ICMS maintenance.
The Senior Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Law (Ms Rahayu Mahzam) (for the Minister for Law): Mr Speaker, the State Courts’ Integrated Case Management System (ICMS) was officially launched in 2015. The State Courts decide on matters relating to their case management systems, such as procurement and maintenance. The following is based on information received from the State Courts.
The ICMS is used to manage all criminal cases in the State Courts. Judges and litigants may use ICMS to access case records, schedule hearings, upload documents, file applications and generate Court orders. An average of around 184,000 criminal cases were filed each year from 2018 to 2022 on ICMS.
The ICMS currently undergoes scheduled weekly and monthly maintenance, which takes about four or 10 hours, respectively. Scheduled maintenance is carried out after Court operating hours to minimise disruptions to users.
After the disruption to ICMS happened, the State Courts activated their business continuity plans to ensure that Court hearings could proceed despite the disruption. This included printing hard copy documents, where appropriate, for parties to refer to and Judges recording their notes on Microsoft Word.
As a result, the vast majority of criminal cases were not affected. The average time to manage these cases manually on 7 and 8 February 2023, as compared to the average time if the cases had been managed under ICMS, was not specifically tracked.
Only 16 of the 2,037 criminal cases scheduled on 7 and 8 February 2023, that is, less than 1% of the scheduled cases, had to be adjourned. Minimal disruption was caused to these adjourned cases.
Mr Speaker: Mr Perera.
Mr Leon Perera (Aljunied): I thank the Senior Parliamentary Secretary for her reply. Just two supplementary questions and I understand, of course, that you will have to relay this information from the State Courts. The first question is: is there a plan to overhaul the system? It seems to me that weekly maintenance that can take between four and 10 hours is quite burdensome and there is also feedback from some lawyers that the system is a bit clunky and slow, and sometimes, glitchy – that was reported in the media article. So, I am wondering if there is going to be a more thorough overhaul coming up in the future.
And my second question is, I understand that the system for requesting criminal case management conferences is, right now, not integrated with ICMS. You would have to go to a separate page on the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) website. So, is there a plan to integrate that functionality into ICMS?
Ms Rahayu Mahzam: I thank the Member for the question. I want to clarify on the point of the timing for the maintenance. Actually, it is four hours for the weekly maintenance and 10 hours for the monthly one, which are done during times when the Courts are not in operation. That takes about 328 hours of downtime, out of a total of 8,760 hours in a year. So, it is about only 3.7% of the hours in a year. In a way, it is a small number.
The second point I want to mention is the fact that we note some of the feedback given by the lawyers. I know that it was largely coming out from the article, so I am not sure if it is necessarily representative. But that is something we can look into and I take the feedback back. I think it is something that we want to continually improve on. There are suggestions made on the integration of the Criminal Case Management System (CCMS). That is something we can take back and look into.
Ministry of Law
28 February 2023