In Singapore, when a party chooses to commence legal proceedings, the first step is normally a formal document that is sent by the plaintiff (the party who is suing) to the defendant (the party who is being sued).
The following are some of the common civil actions that are commenced by way of a writ of summons:
In most cases, prior to commencing a civil action by way of writ, a letter of demand is sent by a claimant through a law firm in Singapore.
In the event the demands are not complied with, the claimant may choose to commence formal legal action.
This begins by filing of the Writ of Summons in court, typically as a suit in the District Court or Magistrate Court.
In some cases, the District court may hear actions where the disputed amounts exceed $250,000 if both parties agree in writing to to have the matter heard in the District Court.
The writ has to be served on the defendant or his lawyers within the time validity of the writ as per the Rules Of Court.
In Singapore, the plaintiff is obligated to serve the writ within 6 months, which is the general validity period of a writ, except for the following:
Failing to serve the writ within the validity period will result in the plaintiff having to renew the writ by way of a court summons.
Personal service of the writ is mandatory (delivering by hand to the defendant).
Typically accompanied by the Writ Of Summons, the Statement of Claims serves to crystallise your position as the plaintiff by setting out the relevant facts surrounding your claim.
Generally, your Statement of Claim may contain the following:
When you receive a writ of summons, and you wish to defend yourself against the action, you have to “enter an appearance” within 8 days of receiving the Writ Of Summons.
You can do this by engaging a law firm in Singapore to file and serve a Memorandum Of Appearance on the plaintiff.
If you fail to respond to the writ, the plaintiff can apply for a judgment against you without trial, after which the court will make a Judgment in Default of Appearance against you.
The next step is assessing the sum of damages you have to pay the plaintiff.
As a defendant, if you feel that the claim against you is unreasonable, or unfounded, you can choose to contest the claim by serving your Defence pleading.
This has to be done 14 days after the time limit for entering an appearance OR after you’ve been served the Statement Of Claims, whichever is later.
Furthermore, if you feel that you have a counterclaim in the matter, you can a pleading known as a Defence and Counterclaim.
It is important not to ignore a Writ of Summons, as the plaintiff will apply to obtain a Judgement in default of appearance against you, which means you will be liable to pay the plaintiff the relief sought by them, as decided by the courts.
You are strongly advised to seek legal advice from a civil litigation lawyer in Singapore.
The plaintiff may apply to the court to enter judgment, either by Final or Interlocutory judgment in cases where the defendant either
The defendant may apply to the court to set aside the judgement by providing reasons why they did not enter an appearance or serve a defence.
In some cases, a judgment in default may be considered a final judgement, which is an order to pay the plaintiff an amount of money and legal costs involved
A default judgement typically not for a fixed amount of money, where assessment of damages need to be determined by the court.
This is where a neutral third party such as a mediator, guides both the plaintiff and defendant in negotiations, where a mutually acceptable settlement is reached.
The mediator does not attempt to determine the party at fault, but instead focuses on solutions that meets their concerns.
In Singapore, the Mediation service provided by the State Courts Centre For Dispute Resolution is the most common option chosen by disputing parties as it helps to preserve relationships and is fast.
Both parties may agree to resolve the dispute by bringing the matter to a neutral third party such as an arbitrator.
In arbitration hearings, cases will be presented to the arbitrator by the respective lawyers of both parties, after which the arbitrator will make a decision based on the merits of the case.
Both parties must then obey the arbitrator’s decision.
As you may have already determined, the legal process in Singapore is a complex one, that requires strong legal advice. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding the following: