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Filing and Serving a Claim with the Small Claims Tribunal - Singapore
Rather than having people take legal action by involving legal counsel (and overworking the Courts), the Small Claims Tribunal serves as a comparatively quick and inexpensive forum for people to resolve conflicts which involve relatively small sums of money.
We have mentioned the Small Claims Tribunal a number of times, when referring to potential actions to take for debt recovery, or to resolve tenancy disputes. Filing a claim is done online, with only a nominal fee charged, and no parties are allowed to be represented by lawyers in proceedings before the Tribunal.
Here is all you need to know about filing a claim with the Small Claims Tribunal.
Jurisdiction of the Small Claims Tribunal
The first thing to determine is whether the Small Claims Tribunal is allowed to hear a dispute on the matter you are in conflict with another party over.
The types of disputes which the Small Claims Tribunal can preside over include:
· A contract for the sale of goods
· A contract for the provision of services
· A tort for damage to property
· Tenancy disputes for the lease of residential property not exceeding 2 years
· Contracts to buy or sell foreign currency with a licensed moneychanger under the Money-changing and Remittance Business Act
· Cancellation of contracts under the Consumer Fair Trading (Cancellation of Contracts) Regulations 2009
· Refund of motor vehicle deposits in accordance with the Consumer Fair Trading (Motor Vehicle Dealer Deposits) Regulations 2009
· Opt-out under the Consumer Fair Trading (Opt-Out) Regulations 2009
For a full list of what the Tribunal can hear, one can refer to the Small Claims Tribunals Act (Cap 308).
The quantum of dispute arising from these claims must also not exceed S$20,000. However, if both parties give their consent and file a Memorandum of Consent, the limit can rise to S$30,000.
In addition, the Tribunal will only hear claims which are filed within two years from the date on which the cause of action accrued (i.e. the day the facts arose to give rise to a right to sue).
If your claim does not fall within the jurisdiction of the Small Claims Tribunal, then you will have to pursue civil litigation.
Filing a Claim
All claims are filed using an electronic case filing and management system called CJTS (Community Justice and Tribunals System). Proceedings at the Tribunals begin when a claim is filed.
A person who files a claim is a “claimant”. A claimant files a claim against a “respondent”. A respondent can also file a "counterclaim" against the claimant in the same claim.
Claimants are required to take a pre-filing assessment to check that their case is eligible to be heard by the Tribunal.
Only an individual or a corporate entity with a claim that can be heard by the Small Claims Tribunals can file a claim. The fees for filing a claim or counterclaim are:
To file a claim, you will need to upload:
· Your pre-filing assessment ID, received after the pre-filing assessment has been completed
· Your personal details, such as name, contact number, email, and address.
· The respondent's details, such as name and address.
· A summary of what you are claiming.
· Supporting documents for your claim. Examples include invoices, receipts, contracts, tenancy agreements, stamp duty certificates, photographs, emails, or messages.
· Respondent's ACRA business profile obtained within 1 month of filing if they are a business entity.
· Your company's ACRA business profile obtained within 1 month of filing, if you are a business entity, as well as a Letter of Authorisation with your entity's letterhead.
All documents not in English must be accompanied by an English translation.
Serving the Claim
Once the claim has been successfully filed, you must serve the claim and Notice of Consultation on the respondent within 7 working days. This notice can be delivered personally by handing it to the respondent, or a member of staff if the respondent is a business entity. It can also be delivered by registered post to the respondent’s last known residential address or registered address.
After serving the claim, you must upload the Declaration of Service in CJTS. This Declaration of Service must include all of the following:
· Date and time when the Notice of Consultation was served on the respondent.
· Name of the person who served the notice. If the notice was served by a courier company, state the company’s details.
· Mode in which the notice was served (personal delivery or registered post).
· Detailed outcome of serving the notice, such as whether the service was successful or unsuccessful.
Proceedings under the Tribunal
After a claim is filed, a Consultation date will be fixed for parties to appear before the Registrar in Court. At a Consultation, the Registrar will:
· Assess if a claim is within the Tribunals’ jurisdiction
· Give parties an opportunity to discuss their cases with a view to resolving their dispute amicably
· Where parties are unable to settle a matter, fix the matter for a Hearing before a Tribunal Magistrate, or make such other orders as it deems fit
Before going to court, both parties can try to resolve the dispute online through eNegotiation or eMediation in CJTS. If an agreement can be reached, either party may apply for a consent order to record the agreed terms. Alternatively, the claimant can also opt to withdraw the claim.
If the matter simply cannot be resolved, then both parties will have a chance to present their cases to the Tribunal Magistrate at a Hearing. The Tribunal Magistrate will consider the parties’ documents or other evidence, the evidence of witnesses (if any), and make a decision on the case in accordance with the law.
An order made by the Tribunal Magistrate is binding on the parties.
Most cases presided over by the Small Claims Tribunal are concluded within 4 months of filing.
Read also: Receiving a Letter of Demand: Everything You Need to Know
Read also: Recovering Your Debt: Turning to Debt Collectors VS Seeking Legal Recourse
Read also: What Can Landlord Do When A Tenancy Dispute Arises and Rights Of Eviction In COVID-19 Situation in Singapore
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