Civil Litigation

Writ Of Summons Singapore : A Law Firm’s Guide

June 18, 2019

Guide: Writ of Summons in Singapore

What is a Writ Of Summons in Singapore


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:

  • Contractual Disputes
  • Personal Injury Claims
  • Intellectual Property Actions
  • Admiralty & Shipping Disputes & Actions

In most cases, prior to commencing a civil action by way of a 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.

If You Are The One Suing

Starting A Civil Action In Singapore

This begins by filing of the Writ of Summons in court (court summons), typically as a suit in the District Court or Magistrate Court.

District Court
  • Civil actions not exceeding $250,000
  • Road Traffic Claims / Personal Injury Claims Arising Out Of Industrial Accidents not exceeding $500,000
Magistrate’s Court
  • Hears Civil Actions For Amounts Not Exceeding $60,000

In some cases, the District Court may hear actions where the disputed amounts exceed $250,000 if both parties agree in writing to have the matter heard in the District Court.

Service Of Writ

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:

  • Admiralty Proceedings (12 Months)
  • Writs served outside Singapore (12 Months)

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).

Statement Of Claim Singapore

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:

  • Identity and Relationship of all parties involved i.e. plaintiff(s) and defendant(s) in the action
  • Obligations which you claim have been breached by the defendant
  • Facts and Situations surrounding the dispute
  • Your Losses suffered due to the actions of the defendant in this breach
  • Relief that you are claiming from the defendants

Cost Of Writ Of Summons In Singapore

The cost of a writ of summons varies, depending on the amount claimed and various other factors. This also depends on whether the case actually goes to trial, or is settled out of court through mediation. It is strongly advised that you contact a reputable law firm who will assess your matter and advise you accordingly.

If You Are Being Sued (Defendant)

Memorandum Of Appearance

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.

Defence and/or Counterclaim

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.

What To Do When You Receive A Writ Of Summons

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.


Judgement in Default Of Appearance, or Judgement in Default Of Service Of Defence

The plaintiff may apply to the court to enter judgment, either by Final or Interlocutory judgment in cases where the defendant either

  • ignores the Writ of Summons or simply does not serve an appearance by way of a Memorandum of Appearance,
  • Fails to serve a Defence,

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.

Final Judgement

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

Interlocutory Judgment

A default judgement typically not for a fixed amount of money, where an assessment of damages needs to be determined by the court.

Alternatives Methods Of Dispute Resolution


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 meet 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:

  • Commencing A Civil Action In Singapore
  • You Are Being Sued In Singapore
  • Costs Of Commencing A Civil Action In Singapore

Chambers & Partners – Asia Pacific 2023

PDLegal LLC is pleased to announce that Managing Partner, Peter Doraisamy, has been recognised and ranked by Chambers & Partners (Asia Pacific 2023 for Shipping: Domestic: Litigation). The following quotes appear with Peter’s ranking: –

“Peter Doraisamy of PDLegal in Singapore is a noted shipping lawyer in the market. He handles a wide range of disputes, including ship grounding, cargo and fraud-related cases” – Chambers & Partners – Asia Pacific 2023

“He is excellent in litigation. He has very good control of the case, collecting the right evidence and putting this into a very successful trial.” – Shipping Litigation Client

Chambers and Partners is the leading independent professional legal research company operating across 200 jurisdictions. Chambers and Partners delivers detailed rankings and insights into the world’s leading lawyers and law firms.

This ranking is a testimony to the expertise and experience of the Firm’s shipping practice and would not be possible without the support of our clients and friends.

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