Tutorial Questions

1) Explain what you understand by “Law” and why is it important to know the law?

Law may be defined as a set of rules by which a community regulates its activities. Many of these rules have been derived from customary practices, ethics, religion, trade practices and moral values. These rules can be enforced in a court of law – this distinguishes law from other rules eg. Rules of a club, association etc. It is important to know the law because almost everything we do or encounter in daily life touches on some aspect of the law. Knowing the law helps us to understand case reports better, understand legal advice and even follow court proceedings. It also helps us to protect our own personal rights, family members etc. Furthermore, ignorance of the law is definitely not a defense.

2) What are some of the main differences between civil and criminal law?

The objective of civil law is to compensate victims and parties involved are plaintiff(the one who initiates the legal action) against the defendant (the one who has to defend the action brought to him by plaintiff), while the objective of criminal law is to punish wrongdoers and parties involved are state (the state has an obligation to protect its people) (represented by public prosecutor) against the defendant (wrongdoer or accused person). Decision made for civil law is judgement against or for the plaintiff base on the evidence in favour of the plaintiff to be proved on a balance of probabilities. Outcomes are award of compensation, order specific performance, injunction or other appropriate civil orders. However for criminal law, the evidence against defendant is to be proved beyond reasonable doubt to convict the wrongdoer if found guilty; can be acquitted or given a discharge if found not guilty. Punishment includes death penalty, imprisonment, caning, a fine or disqualification as appropriate.

3) In the following situations consider the type of proceedings (civil or criminal) the parties may face:

A) Ariel steals Joseph’s handphone by vandalizing the lock on Joseph’s locker at the gym and sells it to Lim.

Criminal and Civil Law is breeched. Ariel committed theft by stealing Joseph’s handphone. It is an offence punishable with imprisonment of up to three years or with fine or both.


  • Claim/Prosecution
  • Civil Proceedings
  • Who can sue who for what
  • Criminal Proceedings
  • Who (Public Prosecutor) can prosecute who for which offences

Criminal Proceedings

  1. The public prosecutor can prosecute Ariel for theft of the handphone.
  2. The public prosecutor can prosecute Ariel for vandalizing the lock on the locker
  3. The prosecutor can prosecute Ariel for disposing stolen property
  4. The prosecutor can prosecute Lim for dishonestly receiving stolen property.

Civil Proceedings

  1. The owner of the gym (plaintiff) can sue Ariel (defendant) for compensation for damaging the lock on their locker.
  2. The plaintiff can sue Ariel the defendant, for compensation for the loss of use of his handphone under the tort of conversion.

B) After a night of clubbing Samantha drives home drunk and knocks down Russel, a motorcyclist. Samantha drives home without stopping after the accident.

Criminal and Civil Law is breeched.


Criminal Proceedings

  1. The public prosecutor can prosecute Sharon for going against the road traffic act for drink driving.
  2. Samantha will be prosecuted for knocking down Russel.
  3. Samantha will be prosecuted for not stopping to provide assistance after knocking down Russel (Hit & Run)

(Need to describe every single movement or action)

Civil Proceedings

Russel the plaintiff can sue Samantha, the defendant under the tort of negligence for compensation. He can claim damages for injuries suffered, loss of income, hospitalization expenses, damages to motorcycle and all other related expenses.

4) Explain briefly the various methods of resolving civil disputes

There are three ways to resolve civil disputes.

Firstly, the litigation process; the plaintiff commences action through the lawyer, which is to sue the defendant, and there could be counterclaims.

Secondly, Mediation can help resolve too where neutral mediator helps parties reach amicable settlement. The parties appoint a third party to help them work through the dispute with the goal of reaching a mutually acceptable compromise. Not usually legal binding, and may not lead to a final outcome. (usually for domestic disputes)

Thirdly, Arbitration is another means of settling commercial disputes without resorting to the ordinary court process. In arbitration, the parties agree to appoint one or more mutually acceptable persons to adjudicate their dispute. This allows the selection of a suitably qualified expert as an arbitrator. There is finality of outcome and award is legally binding. (usually for commercial disputes)

With reference to Singapore court structure, state with reasons, the courts in which the following cases could be heard:

  • a claim for $80,000 as damages for breach of contract; District Court – This is because the claim exceeds $60,000 which is the maximum limit for magistrate court. This is also because the claim is less than $250,000, therefore it is heard in the district court.
  • a claim for $1,500 as damages for defective goods sold; Small claims Tribunal – Civil claims less than $10,000 In addition, small claims tribunal deals with defective goods and services.
  • a claim for $12,000 as damages under tort of negligence; Magistrate Court – Civil Claims of more than $10,000. This is because the claim is below the maximum limit of $60,000.
  • A shoplifting charge involved a teenager aged 15 years; Juvenile Court – Deals with teens below 16. This is because the court deals with teens below the age of 16. This case is a teen of age 15.
  • a case involving a husband using violence on the wide, and Family Court – Deals with Marriage and family matters. This is because this case is for family violence. The woman may apply for a PPO.
  • a situation involving a person suspected of having died from poisoning Coroner’s Court – Circumstances of sudden or unnatural death.